ON THE surface, TT appears to have done very well in bridging the gender divide, President Paula-Mae Weekes said in her message for International Women’s Day, but “beneath that glossy veneer” is a different story.
“Our girls regularly outperform boys at school and go on to occupy various positions of authority in the public and private sectors…however, (there remains) the glaring reality of unacceptably high levels of domestic violence against women, teenage pregnancy and sexual harassment in the workplace,” Weekes said. And while girls excel academically, Weekes said there was a “conspicuous paucity” of women in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), areas critical to the future of the nation, particularly given the recent sharp reduction in traditional sources of national income. “Innovation and technology have long been identified as the new frontiers in achieving social progress and transformation.
“If we are to keep pace with the demands of the modern world, the perspectives and unique experiences of women must be able to influence the creation and implementation of technological structures and solutions that will determine the way forward for this country.
This year, we acknowledge the need to revisit conventional approaches to advancing gender equality if we are to remove all barriers and close the gender gap once and for all,” Weekes said. International Women’s Day 2019 (which is observed today) is a clarion call for all industry leaders, activists and entrepreneurs to step forward and contribute to the development of systems that promote the empowerment of all women and girls, she said.
“Everyone has a part to play in bridging the gender divide, whether by challenging social norms and behaviours or by militating for changes to legal constructs which perpetuate inequality.
Now is the right time to buckle down and ensure that no woman or girl is left behind as we move into the future.
Let us take action to #Balanceforbetter (the theme of this year’s International Women’s Day) and realise a gender-balanced world in which every woman and girl can achieve her greatest potential.”
The framework of the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda has encouraged countries around the world to take decisive and concrete action in increasing the economic, social and political opportunities available to women and girls.
Although it has long been acknowledged that when women are empowered, the entire community prospers, Weekes said there was a high degree of gender inequality that continues to drive down national productivity levels and stymie the personal and professional development of women.
“On this International Women’s Day, we celebrate the achievements, triumphs and progress of all women and take up the cause to think equal, build smart and innovate for change,” she said.