Minister of Sport and Community Development Shamfa Cudjoe says each citizen is responsible for changing the inequality, and violence faced by women.
She was speaking at the Association of Female Executives of Trinidad and Tobago (AFETT) Women of Influence Awards and Mentorship Celebration at the Government Campus Plaza in Port of Spain on Tuesday.
“If this injustice, inequality, (and) cruelty towards women makes us so uncomfortable, then we should be willing to do what it takes to bring about that change.”
Cudjoe was referring to this year’s International Women’s Day theme – Call to Action.
“It is a call to action; not only to call out or identify or bring awareness to, but for change. More so for us to be that change.”
Cudjoe recalled being nominated to serve in the Senate at the age of 28 in 2010.
“I had no plans whatsoever in pursuing a career in politics, but I’ve always been a voice for youth representation: a voice for women, and a voice for children.”
She said at the time her abilities were questioned and she was heavily scrutinised.
“Many people said, ‘She is too young. She is not even married. She has not even started a family. Give her some time to build her credibility. Give her some time to develop some sort of stability and to start her life.’
“All the contestants were older men, and nobody questioned whether or not they were married or if their family life was stable. In many cases they were not even questioned about their qualifications or experience. Some of them were just in the right place at the right time.”
She said this experience awakened a desire in her to prove people wrong and create a safe place in the Parliament for young women who are qualified and competent to be taken seriously.
“We don’t have to be anything fancy or extraordinary…to answer this call to action. It starts with the conversations we have with ourselves (and) with our children. It's about how we culture our boys and men.”
Five women were awarded at the event, including Teresa Wankin in the category of Business Pioneer; the managing director of beauty salon Solé – Solange Richardson received the Spirit of AFETT award; Roberta Clarke winning an award for National Spirit; Young Female Entrepreneur awardee Antonia Guston; and media personality Hema Ramkissoon.