AFETT: Women need to encourage other women

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

From left- first vice president of Flow TT Simone Martin-Sulgan, AFETT young female leader Aleah Holder, Minister of Sports and Community Development Shamfa Cudjoe, president of AFETT Dixie-Ann Dickson, nursing administrator Melissa Balbasa-Craigwell, AFETT fundraising director Patries Ramkaran and NGO Is There Not A Cause (ITNAC) founder Avonelle Hector-Joseph – AFETT

THE ASSOCIATION of Female Executives of Trinidad and Tobago (AFETT) says gender equity has been happening in this country, but at a slow pace.

The association’s president, Dixie-Ann Dickson, made the observation at the non-governmental organisation’s annual Women of Influence Awards and Mentorship Celebration at the Reformation Life Centre, Bejucal, Chaguanas on Friday.

She said, however, women continued to fight against gender inequalities, unequal pay, gender stereotypes, discrimination and bias.

“These all serve as a barrier or hindrance to women’s advancement and development but, despite the odds, women are still making strides. Even though progress has been made over the past decades for women and girls, it has been uneven and incremental,” Dickson said.

“The United Nations noted that the gender gap will not close for another 100 years. So, we still have some way to go. As we journey, we ought to celebrate our wins along the way, until we achieve the ultimate goal. And this is why you are here today.”

AFETT was formed in 2002 as a leading network for professional women in TT. Its aim has been building a community of women who support each other in becoming more effective in the business world. The award ceremony recognises women for their hard work, dedication, and selflessness to work and country.

Dickson called on female leaders, achievers, and trailblazers to use their success stories to guide, inspire and support young women and girls.

She said, “One of the important ways to assist the younger generation to succeed and overcome the odds, even some of the same challenges you went through, is through active female mentorship – (be) sources of advice, leadership, motivation and experience in a world where this critical resource is often underutilised and denied.”

Dickson said TT’s young girls needed more female mentors.

“Your journey, your story can help and change the life of another or many young girls. Your insight and knowledge can serve as more than a source of support, it can empower.”

The event also inducted Sharon Rowley, wife of the Prime Minister and Shamfa Cudjoe, Minister of Sport and Community Development, as honorary members. Rowley was unable to attend the event owing to an emergency.

Cudjoe shared her experiences as a young woman and urged young people to persevere regardless of the trials and “dress for the job you want.”

She said women needed to assist each other as they climbed the ladder of success.

“Women kept moulding me and opening doors for me. Often times we are looking for that mentor to be someone who is dressed up, a professional person. Sometimes we are looking in places where we are told to look, but often times they are right in front us.

“As women with opportunities in our palms, there are young women or girls looking at you, emulating you, taking pattern from you and, often times, depending on you to simply leave the door ajar so they can have that opportunity.”

AFETT’s regional mentorship programme, she said, now includes Tobago and is welcomed for the development in young girls and women.

The 2022 awardees:


Aleah Holder – Young Female Leader award


Avonelle Hector Joseph – Social Entrepreneur award


Simone Martin-Sulgan – Business Pioneer award


Patries Ramkaran ­ Spirt of AFETT award


Melissa Balbosa Craigwell – National Spirit award