Parliament launches group for women legislators

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

President Christine Kangaloo speaks at the launch for a parliamentary group of women legislators on Thursday. – TT Parliament

THE Parliament has officially launched a parliamentary group for women legislators, which it hopes can be a “catalyst for change” when it comes to gender equality.

The launch was held at the Red House on Thursday evening.

President of TT Christine Kangaloo, and former Senate president, said although men have been at the “forefront of all political and legal endeavours,” women who are a part of the legislative process are a “critical component” in working towards gender equality.

“We have had a female prime minister, female president of the Senate, speakers of the house and two fem presidents,” she said.

But while there has been an increase in the number of women involved in politics in this country, there still needs to be a shift in people’s attitudes towards them.

The necessary support, she said, is not where it should be and not always forthcoming.

“It is unforgivable that even today, women parliamentarians continue to be subjected to gender-based ridicule and contempt.”

She said they continue to be objectified because of their sex and recalled when she and House Speaker Brigid Annisette-George were the subject of a social media attack.

What stood out, she said, was that the negative comments were solely based on their gender and not their actual contributions.

Speaker of the House of Representatives Brigid Annisette-George speaks at the launch for a parliamentary group of women legislators on Thursday. – TT Parliament

“Women need to unite to fight for themselves. We (do) not (need) to leave it entirely to men to fight for us. It is up to women parliamentarians to defend themselves.

“In today’s environment, Parliament can hardly afford not to have a caucus of women legislators. Women parliamentarians need to appreciate that they are leaders in their own right. Silence is not a viable option.”

Annisette-George agreed with Kangaloo, adding that gender equality will strengthen the identity of the future.

“We cannot wait for men to take us seriously. We must believe in ourselves and our own worth and capabilities.”

She said while they can assist by being allies and supporters, “we do not have to wait on them.”