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The progress for the equality of women has been too slow and while there has been some advancement over 50 years, there are many women who still feel powerless.
This was the view of Roxanne De Freitas, chairperson of the Scotiabank Foundation, at the Women’s Leadership Conference at the Hyatt Recency Hotel, Port-of-Spain, on Friday. The event, in its fifth year, was held in celebration of International Women’s Day last Thursday.
“While a growing of legion of outspoken and powerful women are advocating for change, there are still many women who feel less powerful, less bold and are still questioning ‘is it worth it,” De Freitas said.
She said women in this country earned $15,000 less per annum than men doing the same job, but added that this difference was a lot wider some ten years ago.
De Freitas said this was not unique to T&T but was a global phenomena.
“Speak up, show up and never be afraid to ask questions and give your opinion,” she urged women.
De Freitas also applauded the men who valued pressing for women’s progress.
“Too often though, women buy into the misguided belief that they have to dial up their masculinity to get ahead in a man’s world,” she said.
“Women don’t need to be more like men and when we try to be, we negate the difference our difference makes.”
She said social media, which was fast taking over traditional media as the new press, provided a highly accessible and powerful platform from which to advocate important causes.
And instead of being each other’s enemy, De Freitas advised women to form a network or to join one.
“It is often said that women are each other’s worst enemy. Together we are stronger. Help your network feel heard. Point out their talents.
“Acknowledge their efforts, celebrate their wins and losses, because out of every loss comes learning,” De Freitas said.
Labour Minister Jennifer Baptiste- Primus, who also spoke at the event, said in acknowledging the right of all women, focus must be placed on situations, issues, problems and opportunities from a macro perspective.
“Meaning that while the recognition of the virtues and vicissitudes of womanhood in pursuit of nation building must at all times be acknowledged, it is imperative that, as a leader, one’s approach must be dispassionate and objective,” Baptiste- Primus said.
“To be otherwise is to subject our women to seeing their inclusion merely as tokenism, when in reality it should be grounded on our intelligence, intellectualism and our cultural and spiritual attributes, which they are eminently empowered and equipped to bring to the table.”
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