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Saturday 21 September 2019
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UN women choose Carnival

Creative director of the Lost Tribe Valmiki Maharaj says the partnership with UN Women allows them to continue and expand on the #MyCarnival Campaign. Photo courtesy The Lost Tribe
Creative director of the Lost Tribe Valmiki Maharaj says the partnership with UN Women allows them to continue and expand on the #MyCarnival Campaign. Photo courtesy The Lost Tribe

MICHELLE A ENG LEANG

The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) is preparing to celebrate its tenth anniversary in 2020, and TT Carnival has been chosen as one of the cultural vehicles to assist with these celebrations.

A partnership between UN Women and Carnival band the Lost Tribe was revealed at the band’s mas camp in Woodbrook, with a full UN contingent present, including permanent representative to the UN for TT and chair for UN Women Pennelope Beckles-Robinson, vice president UN Women executive Board and permanent representative for the UN for Hungary Katalin Annamária Bogyay, deputy representative of UN Women Multi-Country - Caribbean office Tonni Brodber as well as creative director of the Lost Tribe Valmiki Maharaj.

Beckles-Robinson expressed her excitement for TT and by extension, its Carnival to be a part of the UN Women celebrations. “Carnival is a very special time for us in TT. So that UN Women deciding to join with The Lost Tribe for an event that is so important to TT is really special. When you look at the importance of culture in the UN and we go back to the charter, the charter speaks about the issues of culture, so that collaborating with UN Women brings the culture of TT to the United Nations.” Beckles-Robinson sees Carnival as being so important to TT as it speaks to diversity, creativity, talent and energy that is manifested on Carnival Monday and Tuesday.

A costume from the section Dastkaar from The Lost Tribe's 2019 Carnival presentation, Taj. Photo by Ikenna Douglas courtesy The Lost Tribe

“There is no greater gift to Trinidad and Tobago than to use our culture to bring together the work of the United Nations.”

Bogyay sees diversity as a source of inspiration and admitted to being inspired during her time in Trinidad. “Since we arrived in your country, we have been constantly inspired by you and by your country and by your culture. Culture is really something that builds the real bridge between people, continents and countries. Culture travels. Music and dance travels,” she said, adding that culture is about joint relations and that “through the language of art and culture, and with the help of artists and ambassadors of art, we have a chance to talk about the strongest messages.”

Maharaj of The Lost Tribe sees the partnership between the two entities as one that “through our language of Carnival will communicate the message of gender equality and women’s rights to the world.” According to UN Women, “this initiative is aimed at developing inspirational and awareness raising products and/or events to form part of the commemorative portfolio to celebrate UN Women’s ten years of existence and 25 years of the Beijing Platform for Action.”

The collaboration will involve a campaign that will begin when the band launches in July and run until Carnival 2020. According to Maharaj, the campaign will “focus on inclusion and national participation, mentorship events and branding opportunities” to help achieve the shared goals of The Lost Tribe and UN Women.

Earlier this year, UN Women put out a call inviting regional non-profit and for-profit institutions working in the creative and cultural industries to partner on a project entitled Creative Actions to Celebrate UN Women’s 10th Anniversary and the 25th Anniversary of the Beijing Platform for Action in the Caribbean. According to the UN Women, this project was designed with the culture of the Caribbean and its subsequent reach, at its core.

Organisations were asked to detail creative and innovative activations and/or products that would be launched or performed for 2020. Entities were also asked to indicate how a percentage of their profits would go to an institution or programme supported by the government or an NGO in their country. Two organisations applied and after both proposals were reviewed, The Lost Tribe was selected as the successful partner.

With the year 2020 being of such importance to UN Women and the subsequent movement towards gender equality and women’s empowerment, UN Women Caribbean asked for proposals that would illuminate and salute the gains that have been made in gender equality as sources of inspiration and motivation, while continuing to address the work that still needs to be done.

Maharaj said, “The partnership will not be limited to one section, but rather spread across our entire band for 2020. I am proud to say that these core values will emanate throughout The Lost Tribe in every aspect of our design and business. For The Lost Tribe, this partnership allows us the opportunity to continue and expand on the work we put in last year with the #MyCarnival Campaign.”

Tonni Brodber, deputy representative of UN Women Multi-Country, Caribbean office believes the partnership with The Lost Tribe to celebrate UN Women’s tenth anniversary and the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Platform for Action represents an opportunity to take the message of gender equality to the general public through cultural channels.

“We looked for organisations that were already celebrating our principles of equality, of diversity and of course ensuring integration because we want to ensure no one is left behind. The Lost Tribe applied and the presentation they made to us was the strongest and one that demonstrated from their #MyCarnival campaign, they mean and live the principles of equality.”

The UN Women Multi-Country Office Caribbean (MCO-Caribbean) was launched in January 2010. And covers 22 countries and territories in the English and Dutch speaking Caribbean, including TT. Over the past ten years UN Women has worked closely with regional partners such as Caricom and supported governments and civil society.

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