An International Women’s Day (IWD) Walkout will take place on March 8, led by 15 women’s rights, LGBTQ+ and social justice organisations.
In the spirit of IWD’s 2021 theme #ChooseToChallenge, the collective efforts of the walkout will aim to challenge the conscience of Trinidad and Tobago’s leaders to implement measures to create a safer country for women.
The muster point will be City Gate, Port of Spain, at 2 pm. The walk will then move to Parliament and will end at 4 pm.
In a release, the organisations said the "symbolic, nationwide" walkout will see all kinds of people walk out from their offices, homes, or wherever else they might be, to gather at the capital’s major transport hub, City Gate. When it concludes outside the Red House, the gathering will call on the Government and Opposition for immediate action against gender-based violence.
The organisations said the violent murders of 18-year-old Ashanti Riley and 23-year-old Andrea Bharatt brought TT to a tipping point of social action and demands for justice.
“Ordinary citizens across the country have led protests, marches, rallies, motorcades, strikes, and candlelight vigils over the past weeks, demonstrating the type of courage that is required by our leaders in this time of crisis. The Alliance for State Action to End Gender Based Violence has described the situation as a 'national emergency,' and we support this call for our Government to take URGENT ACTION!”
They said they had three demands for the Dovernment. The first was to implement safer transport for women: “all registered public transport vehicles must be equipped with digital tracking systems and surveillance cameras to ensure greater safety. We support the initiative by the Attorney General to regulate the public transportation system, ensuring that every number plate will have a radio frequency tag.”
The second was social reform programmes to facilitate cultural change by teaching nonviolent communication approaches and investing in social service provision, and public education campaigns.
The third was the approval of the National Strategic Action Plan to End Gender-Based Violence, which has been before Cabinet since 2016. The organisations said approving the document would help the government eliminate all forms of family violence and discrimination, which Gender and Child Affairs Minister Ayanna Webster-Roy said it was committed to doing in November 2020.
The groups said it is unacceptable that women comprise 43 per cent of TT’s workforce and yet do not feel safe using public transport to go to work.
“The country has failed to ensure the right to life, liberty and security of the person to all women. Our women must be able to walk free, not brave! We remember Andrea Bharatt, Ashanti Riley, Nicole Jaggan, Roberta Patterson, Rachel Ramkisoon, Devika Lalman, Gail Durity, Leah Lammy, and Sammy Lobai, who were all victims of taxi-related murders. We will call their names, never forgotten, in front of the Parliament as we demand a safer and more peaceful TT.”
The organisations partnering in the walkout are:
Act to Change TT
Women Working Together for Social Progress
Network of NGOs for the Advancement of Women
TT Transgender Coalition
Silver Lining Foundation
Caiso: Sex and Gender Justice
I Am One TT
Shidaa Sustainable Development Solutions Ltd
Women of Substance
CEDAW Committee of TT
CIWil TT National Chapter.