ACTING President Christine Kangaloo said much has been achieved, yet much remains to be done towards gender parity, in her message for International Women’s Day (IWD) being celebrated today. Saying the day is a time to mark women’s achievements in all fields of endeavour, from the political to the social, she said such celebrations are against a backdrop of renewed and persistent calls for gender equality.
“This year in Trinidad and Tobago, we recognise and celebrate the fact that we are on the cusp of creating history as the country awaits the inauguration of our first female Head of State, Justice Paula-Mae Weekes. Having already had a female Prime Minister, and having had women serve as Attorney General and as Minister of Finance, and having had women leading commercial banks and chambers of commerce, Trinidad and Tobago can feel justifiably proud of its women’s ability to rise to positions of leadership.”
However she lamented that the World Economic Forum 2017 Global Gender Gap Report said gender parity is reckoned to be 100-200 years away.
“This challenge is especially evident in the sphere of salary inequality between the genders, particularly in rural areas.”
While rural women make up a quarter of the world’s population and most of the agricultural labour force, few own land and most earn wages less than those of men, said Kangaloo.
“But because of entrenched gender inequalities and discrimination, rural women fare far worse than rural men and urban women. Less than 20 per cent are landowners and while the global pay gap between men and women stands at 23 per cent, in rural areas it can be as high as 40 per cent.”
She welcomed as timely the theme of this year’s celebration, The Time is Now: Rural and Urban Activists Transforming Women’s Lives.
“It focuses our attention, as it should, on some of the more pervasive and egregious inequalities that require urgently to be addressed if women are truly to stand side by side our male counterparts.”
She said IWD today presents an opportunity for all to recommit to the cause of equality for all. “Far from becoming complacent about our achievements, it is a call for all of us – men and women – to press on to ensure that all girls and women are guaranteed an equal footing in Trinidad and Tobago, and across the world. “Though much has been accomplished, there is still much more to be done. Let us all continue to press for progress.”