Clark-Rowley: Eliminate gender-based violence

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Sharon Clark-Rowley – File photo

SHARON Clark-Rowley, wife of the Prime Minister, on Tuesday called on men and women to continue to work towards gender parity and the elimination of gender-based violence in society.

She made these calls during a breakfast meeting at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s, in commemoration of International Women’s Day, which will be celebrated worldwide on March 8.

She warned, “There are still too many women in Trinidad and Tobago who deal with sexual harassment, rape and intimate partner violence.”

While many women are fortunate never to have experienced these situations, Clark-Rowley said, “Statistics show that one out of three women in our society and globally have not been so lucky.

“Many of these women suffer in silence, and it is for us to use our voices to help the voiceless. That voice must include our men.”

The government, Clark-Rowley continued, has recognised the need to eliminate gender-based violence “if we as a society must progress.”

She added this was why the launch on Monday of the national strategic action plan on gender-based and sexual violence is very important.

Clark-Rowley said efforts to eliminate gender-based violence dovetail into ongoing efforts to achieve gender parity in society.

“”The unfortunate truth is that there are still too many women in TT who have no idea what gender parity is about.”

Clark-Rowley, an attorney, told her audience she was fortunate to have been raised by parents who advocated gender equality.

Also, she said, “I am married to a man who holds fast to the belief of equality of the sexes. We have raised our two daughters to accept that belief in gender parity.”

She acknowledged that strides have been made in many fields towards equality between men and women.

Clark-Rowley said from the 1960s to the present, there have been many female MPs and Cabinet ministers. She added incumbent President Christine Kangaloo and her immediate successor Paula-Mae Weekes as other examples of women who have broken barriers.

Clark-Rowley said women should be celebrated all year long,

She paid special tribute to women who as mothers and grandmothers often do the duties of a father when there is no adult male in the household.

Clark-Rowley said these are women who work “at least eight hours a day outside the home in varied jobs and then work another ten hours in the home as caregivers, babysitters, cooks, cleaners and teachers without pay.”

She added, “Those women deserve to be celebrated every day of their lives.”