Senior cop urges other Tobago women: Be assertive!

Acting ASP Karen Stewart-Duncan speaks to the media in Scarborough on Wednesday during an International Women's Day parade.  Photo by David Reid
Acting ASP Karen Stewart-Duncan speaks to the media in Scarborough on Wednesday during an International Women's Day parade. Photo by David Reid

A senior female police officer assigned to the Tobago Division is urging women on the island to be more assertive.

Acting ASP Karen Stewart-Duncan made the appeal on Wednesday at the end of a march to commemorate International Women's Day (IWD) in Scarborough. This year’s theme is Embracing Equity.

The march, which featured women from the TT Police Service, Fire Service and Airports Authority, began at Tambrin Square and culminated with a service at the Scarborough Library.

Asked what would be her advice to women for this year’s observance, Stewart-Duncan said, “I want to see a more assertive female population.

"I am not saying that we are not assertive here, but that we would step up more.

“It is not by any means saying that we want to take over the men’s position, but this year’s theme, Embracing Equity, we want to make sure that everything is done equitably. So women need to step up and stand strong as the women we were created to be – that example to the younger ones.”

Stewart-Duncan claimed women are “standing out” more than men on the island.

“In fact, even in Trinidad, if we were to have a recruitment drive right now, and it’s for both males and females, the women will outnumber men. The women outnumber men when it comes to passing the exams.”

She added, “You are seeing where women are stepping forward and the men have literally kind of drawn back. I don’t know why that is.

"But," she reiterated, "is not to say that we want to take over the men’s position. We want to be able to work alongside the men because we were created to work together and we are supposed to be inter-dependent not independent of each other.”

Stewart-Duncan said the police commemorations of IWD began on Sunday with a karaoke lime and games night. They also hosted a symposium on mental, physical and emotional health as well as mentorship sessions with four schools.

The TTPS will also host a cocktail reception on Thursday at which new Police Commissioner Erla Harewood Christopher is expected to be the guest of honour.

“We wanted to make sure that she was a part of our celebration, so we invited her to share our cocktails so we could honour her, because she has shattered the glass ceiling for us women, and therefore, we think it is something that is worthy of recognition.”

Stewart-Duncan advised young women considering a career in policing: “Go for it.

“Nothing can stop you. Mrs Erla Harewood-Christopher has shown us that you can reach the top in this organisation, and therefore the sky’s the limit. The only person who can hold you back is you. Put your best foot forward and you will accomplish.”

Acting Fire Station Officer, Roxborough district, Charlene Sheppard, said young women have been expressing interest in the profession.

“We have 30 years in the job and we are moving forward since the first female batch enlisted in 1992,” she said, adding the Fire Service now has a woman in the first division.

“We never expected that in a male-dominated job, that we would have had a female in the first division. So we are elated and we are hopeful that one day we will have a chief fire officer."

Sheppard said she was privileged to have had good mentors and instructors when she entered the fire service.

She advised women to “trust God, work hard and everything will work out for you.”

Sherma Brebnor, woman estate sergeant at the Airport Authority, said the staff is made up predominantly of women.

“So it makes us have a sense of pride knowing that we can do anything that we want to do with dedication and determination. We can reach the stars,” she told Newsday.

She urged women to motivate themselves.

“Challenge yourself to be whatever you want to be. Don’t let the naysayers give you any doubt in your mind that you can achieve greatness.

“Women are finding themselves in places where the males never expected them to be. But we are standing up for equality and I will say to them, be your own motivator.”


"Senior cop urges other Tobago women: Be assertive!"

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