Kamla on International Women’s Day: No gender dominates in Trinidad and Tobago

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Opposition leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar –

OPPOSITION leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar says the time has come for women’s groups to stop engaging in “self-victimhood dialogues.”

In a message issued ahead of International Women’s Day, Persad-Bissessar said, having been credited with breaking proverbial glass ceilings as a politician, and as one “who has consistently implemented social, legal, and economic policies to ensure gender equality in our nation, I state without fear of contradiction: there is no gender domination in TT.”

She wrote: “Instead of engaging in unwarranted gender blame games and self-victimhood, we should acknowledge that men and women have complementary strengths.

“No successful society can be achieved unless both men and women work together in unity of purpose, respecting and relying upon each other’s strengths.”

Addressing women, she said, “I reiterate – men are not our enemy, neither legally, socially, or economically.

“The time has long passed for some women and women’s groups, especially those fond of embracing radical philosophies, to stop engaging in self-victimhood dialogues that encourage the unnecessary and dangerous blaming of men due to a misplaced belief that men are our nemesis and responsible for all our problems. This is simply not true.”

The UNC leader said, as the world commemorates IWD, she recognises that “many women in TT have been fully recognising their progressive, egalitarian status in society and committing to investing in self-empowerment by taking charge of their destinies instead of perpetuating the myth that men are our nemesis.”

The UN has designated this year’s theme Invest in Women: Accelerate Progress, which she said “gives pause for reflection on our tremendous strides over the past six decades as an independent, developing, democratic nation.”

This, she said, includes achieving legal, social, and economic gender equality, to a greater degree than many other countries worldwide.

“In TT, our women and girls are fortunate to have equal access to educational opportunities and healthcare, the right to own property and earn an income, and the freedom to participate in politics and decision-making at all levels,” Persad-Bissessar wrote.

“Admittedly, these tremendous opportunities took time to achieve. They result from generations upon generations of men and women who laboured under an oppressive status quo for decades, aiming to achieve equal opportunities for their daughters and granddaughters in the future.

She said it would be remiss of the opposition not to acknowledge the “great result of their tremendous, trailblazing work.

“And we can best do this by honestly acknowledging and embracing our democratic freedoms.”

She said TT women have “had it much better than in other nations in our Latin American and Caribbean regions and the wider world, particularly regarding leadership. We have women leaders, role models, and icons in every sphere.”

She said girls continued to outperform boys at most levels of education, and “the tragic reality today is that our young males are the main victims of crime and violence.”

The truth, Persad-Bissessar added, is that the pervasive problems facing the nation today have nothing to do with gender inequality, but rather a “crisis of governance.

“Therefore,” she said, “I call on all women to make a conscious effort to embrace their democratic, constitutionally enshrined freedoms and opportunities, and take charge of their destinies to inspire our nation’s future progress.”

Persad-Bissessar added that no successful society can be achieved unless both men and women work together in unity of purpose, respecting and relying upon each other’s strengths.

“We can achieve ultimate success as a nation only by investing in each other’s inherent strengths as men and women and standing together for good governance, justice, and progress.”