This, the second instalment on the issues impacting women, was to have been published last week, but was postponed because of the onset of the covid19 crisis in our country. The two-part series was done in recognition of International Women’s Day whose theme this year was, I am Generation Equality: Realising Women’s Rights.
This year’s theme marks the five-year milestone towards attainment of the UN Sustainable Development Goals; particularly Goal 5 - Achieving gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls. There is much to be done to ensure that Goal 5 is fully realised in TT.
We must ensure legislative reform to allow educators at the ECCE level, most of whom are women, to be brought into the Teaching Service, and properly respected and compensated as professionals. UNESCO identifies Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) as “more than preparation for primary school.”
UNESCO says ECCE aims at the holistic development of a child’s social, emotional, cognitive and physical needs in order to build a solid and broad foundation for lifelong learning and well-being. ECCE has the possibility to nurture caring, capable and responsible future citizens.
It follows then, that the role of educators at this level is critical to the stability of the entire education system. The Education Act requires amendment to allow these workers to be properly recognised, respected and compensated as teachers. Not only is it a rights issue, it is also a matter of the importance placed on development of a seamless education system to support national development.
We must strive for greater inclusion of women and girls in STEM programmes and activities, thereby allowing them the opportunity to pursue careers in these fields. There are many instances where women in other countries have excelled in the fields of science, technology, engineering and medicine.
Locally, our girls have equal access to participate in STEM-related programmes at secondary and tertiary levels. However, gender stereotypes which exist around certain jobs in these fields must be eliminated.
As part of our country’s strategy for sustainable development and as an important step towards realising greater economic success, women need to be encouraged to grasp career opportunities in these fields. Women must be able to engage in technological innovations and fields of research.
Mentoring to support women throughout their academic and professional experiences and supporting efforts to retain women in the STEM workforce should be a significant element of human capital development.
We must take deliberate action in our public and private sector organisations to increase the skills and capacities of female workers, providing favourable circumstances for their leadership in these environments. TT has achieved an appreciable level of participation and representation of women in politics and governance decision-making processes.
Women hold some of the highest positions in our country. Women also occupy leadership positions in many private and public sector organisations. However, there must be programmes designed to build and strengthen capacity among girls and women, to equip them with the necessary cognitive skills and enhanced emotional intelligences to build the fortitude required to aspire to, and attain leadership positions.
The empowerment of the girls and women must be part of a national policy to ensure equality of opportunity and adherence to fundamental human rights. This should not be an activity based on one day’s commemoration.
Realising women’s rights across generations must involve concerted efforts to adopt a cross-agency approach to ensure all women are allowed to move past gender stereotypes and those lingering social elements of oppression. TTUTA salutes TT’s women in particular our female educators. Please continue to be the inspiration to our students.
In the words of C. JoyBell C., “The strength of a woman is not measured by the impact all her hardships in life have had on her; but is measured by the extent of her refusal to allow those hardships to dictate her and who she becomes.”