As the Ministry of Sport and Community Development launched its 2024 Pink Reign campaign at the Hilton Trinidad and Conference Centre, St Ann's on Wednesday, minister Shamfa Cudjoe-Lewis says the programme will go a long way in "breaking down barriers" for women and girls.
Entering its fifth year, Pink Reign is geared towards promoting the involvement of women and girls in sport, through various sporting activities and educational workshops. Cudjoe-Lewis said, the programme "is not all about getting the next Dwight Yorke or Jereem Richards, but we are trying to mould people who can lead" as well.
In her feature address, Cudjoe-Lewis said it is important for women in sport to know they have the power to be on par with their male counterparts, and she said Pink Reign can be the starting point for aspiring professionals both on and off the field to chart their own course.
"The harsh and unvarnished fact is that girls are not born under-confident and girls are not born unsporting. Certain societal influences and prejudices, however, embedded over time, have served that unjust cause," Cudjoe-Lewis told the audience.
"The Pink Reign campaign is designed to bring an end to that. Thankfully, the statistics have pointed in a positive direction."
Cudjoe-Lewis said the upcoming 2024 Paris Olympics will be a landmark moment, as the vast representation from women will see "a full gender balance" in participation at the event.
"Not only is the participation of girls and women in sport increasing, but also, there has been the removal of artificial barriers.
"The Pink Reign campaign is an excellent example and initiative which is working toward the development of women and girls in sport."
Cudjoe-Lewis also applauded Cricket West Indies (CWI) for their steps in advancing women's cricket. Last week, as part of an MOU signed with the West Indies Players' Association (WIPA), CWI revealed their plans to achieve parity in pay for men's and women's cricketers at the regional and international level by October 2027.
"I want to congratulate CWI on this recent commitment to pay equity and gender parity for all West Indies cricket teams. That means men and women will get the same type of compensation," Cudjoe-Lewis said.
"It has happened late, but it has happened in cricket and we need to see that kind of change and progress taking place in football and different sporting disciplines."
From 2020 to 2023, Cudjoe-Lewis said over 1,000 girls have participated in the #GirlsrunTTChallenge and she expects 2024 to be even more fruitful. At Thursday's launch, last year's top performers in the challenge were awarded, with nine-year-old Arya Joseph and 74-year-old Ingrid Muriell both recognised for being the youngest and most senior participants respectively.
The 2024 Pink Reign schedule includes free fitness sessions, life skills workshops, martial arts sessions, dancing, the popular running challenge and six panel discussions, titled You Go Girl. The 2024 panel discussions kicked off with the topic, Women's hormones and sport: How much do they affect us?
The panel discussion focused on puberty, menopause and women's menstruation cycles, with the panellists explaining how women can be affected in varying ways when carrying out their daily activities or competing in sport. Dr Vanessa Harry said the topic of menstruation was deemed as taboo, and she urged both men and women to have more open discussions to foster better understanding.
Natasha Nunez-St Clair, secretary at Menopause Empowerment Network of TT and Gwendolyn Smith, vice president of TT Association of Masters Athletics, were the other panellists.
Pink Reign activities started earlier this month and are expected to run till September.