Trinidad Weathers Adversity To Support Its Women And Children

No country is perfect…

… Even when said country is a picturesque island with a booming economy that offers tropical temperatures year-round, and presents you with gorgeous white sand beaches. 

Trinidad, however, has made significant strides to improve the lives of its women and children in recent years. 

Trinidad and Tobago is a thriving Caribbean nation with a population of over 1.3 million people. Of these, 49.83% are women, and 50.17% are male. And as of 2021, 281,556 children aged 0 to 14 years old live on the islands.

While Trinidad has room to grow to improve support of its women and children demographic, there’s no doubt the predominantly African and Indian-mixed island has done a lot so far.

Today, we’ll zoom in on persons and groups making a difference in Trinidad and Tobago, and how the country is paving the way in women’s leadership for other countries to follow. 

 

Trinidadians Help Trinidadians To Grow

In Trinidad, the highly praised mentality of “it takes a village” is prevalent.

In many tight-knit families, all the adults present raise the children. And in turn, children refer to close but non-blood-related friends as their tanty (also tantie, or tante, meaning aunt), uncle, granny, or grandpa.

This culture created what now allows Trinis (slang for Trinidadians) to boast, albeit humbly, that they have the friendliest people on earth. 

The island people are also quite tolerant of the religious groups on the island. 

Muslims, Hindus, Catholics, and other primarily Christian denominations live in harmony and treat each other with respect when it comes to their faith.

Of course, a segment of the population lives in poverty. And, sadly, there is a violence problem as well as cases of child abuse. 

But, despite it all, there are many Trinis trying to make a difference. 

 

Akosua Edwards Is Doing Her Part

Akosua Edwards is one such person. She created the group called NiNa, meaning girl in Spanish, to help at-risk young women and girls in her home island of Trinidad. 

Edwards grew up blessed with the support of family and friends. 

However, her heart goes out to those who weren’t as lucky as her —those who were neglected, exploited, and abused in many ways. Those who saw things they never should have, and now need help to heal.

For her part, Edwards faced gender bias and discrimination in the financial industry workplace before she became what she is today. 

Through the use of holistic methods such as art exhibitions, music, yoga, meditation, movement therapy, leadership exercises, and self-development workshops, Edwards fights against gender-based violence, helping girls in Trinidad to heal and grow. 

She listens, and they confide. Then, she acts. 

 

Groups Making A Difference

The world at large could do with a MAJOR social transformation, and Trinidad is no exception. 

If we don’t rethink each of our social interactions on a day-to-day basis, society will never change. 

 

“Be the change you wish to see in the world,” said Mahatma Ghandi.

 

Thankfully, a lot of Trinidadians have picked up the torch — because there can be many leadership torches contrary to popular belief. 

In recent years, Trinis have founded several organizations focused on change and advocacy for vulnerable groups.

Here are a few:

 

Break the Silence: End Child Sexual Abuse was founded in 2007 to raise awareness of STIs, incest, and child sexual abuse implications raised by the Institute for Gender and Development Studies Unit at St. Augustine.

 

The Caribbean Forum for Liberation and Acceptance of Genders and Sexuality (CariFLAGS) uses discussions to bring light to political and cultural issues and how to tackle them and change the status quo. 

 

The Coalition Advocating for Inclusion of Sexual Orientation (CAISO) and I AM ONE TnT are two social justice movements that partner with those who share a goal to alleviate the struggles the LGBTQ+ community faces on the island.

 

Coalition Against Domestic Violence T&T and Conflict Women are both groups that fight against domestic, sexual, emotional, psychological, and other forms of violence against women and others. 

 

The Organization for Abused and Battered Individuals (O.A.B.I) addresses violence against men, women, girls, and boys alike within Trinidad and Tobago, Latin America, and the rest of the Caribbean. They pay special attention to women and children and those who come from vulnerable communities. 

 

There is also an association for single mothers and a few youth-led organizations, among many more.

 

Women In Leadership In Trinidad and Tobago

In 2020, 58 young women took part in the first YWiLTT (Young Women in Leadership – Trinidad and Tobago) event where they explored “concepts of gender and gender equality” and learned how to be effective leaders. 

Over two days, and with a primary focus on parliamentary leadership, the young ladies were guided through public speaking, networking, activism, and how to make real changes in their community. 

The event reflects the growing representation of women in governmental roles in the country. 

According to the United Nations Women Count website, 26.2% of Trinidad’s parliament seats were held by women as of February 2021. 

A number of women serve as highly respected lawyers, ministers, educators, and politicians, and are prevalent in influential roles. 

In 2010, Kamla Persad-Bissessar became Trinidad and Tobago’s first female Prime Minister since the country gained its independence on August 1, 1976. 

Not to mention, Trinidad’s world-renowned Carnival is practically dominated by women who take the lead on the streets and express themselves as they wish.

 

There’s Always A Way To Help 

Trinidad has come a long way from being a highly patriarchal society like many of its neighboring islands, and western countries in general. 

But there’s always room for improvement.

You can help Trinidad continue to make positive changes when it comes to their vulnerable and abused women and children.

Global Fund for Girls has partnered with a number of groups on the island to work against gender-based violence against girls and youth in Trinidad. To make a contribution, and make a change, contact us or donate.