TOBAGO East MP Ayanna Webster-Roy has appealed to young women to pursue jobs in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
"That is the way to go and that is where the big money lies. And ladies, yuh know we like we money," she told delegates on July 6 at the 73rd annual conference of the TT Federation of Women's Institute at Canaan/Bon Accord community centre, Tobago.
Saying the fields are becoming increasingly important in this digital age, Webster-Roy noted many economies around the world are thriving on technology.
"That is the way to go. So, if we want to become more competitive as a nation. If we want to stake our place and become a force to be reckoned with in terms of economy and commerce, then we must encourage our women to become involved in science and technology an engineering and mathematics."
The Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister with responsibility for gender affairs, Webster-Roy said there is still much work to be done in facilitating gender equity in the workplace.
She said the International Monetary Fund has found that increasing women in the labour force continues to bring significant gains to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in several Caribbean countries, including TT.
"Achieving gender parity in labour force participation could drive GDP growth as high as 13 per cent in Trinidad and Tobago. And closing in the gender gaps, such as equalising the number of women as employers and increasing gender equality across occupational categories, could boost GDP even further."
She added: "The need for us to ensure that women have opportunities to pursue education and training is critical because studies have shown that when women are educated, societies thrive and economies grow."
Webster-Roy said work also needs to be done to encourage more women to become involved in politics.
She said a woman told her recently she was thinking about entering politics and wanted to represent a particular community in the Tobago East constituency.
"I said to her 'Go for it, but let me warn you that life as a woman in politics can be very lonely at times.'" Webster-Roy said she told the woman she would support her.
She said women can bring a different perspective to the table because of their unique experiences.
Webster-Roy, however, lamented too many women continue to be affected by gender-based violence in communities.
"Many of these cases are under-reported and unreported and the victims often suffer in silence. If women and girls are living a life of fear because of gender-based violence and we say nothing, we are not only doing ourselves a disservice as women but we are robbing Trinidad and Tobago of the chance to really grow a strong economy if we disenfranchise a large segment of our population. So, sisters we have to stand and hold each-other up."