International Women’s Day this year in Trinidad and Tobago holds a far greater significance than ever before.
Not only will the country recognise the tremendous contributions women have and continue to make to this nation, but this year the country is listening to the cries and the voices of women.
The famous quote, “Women are the backbone of the family and the bedrock of a nation” sums up perfectly the women of Trinidad and Tobago.
For decades, women here have prided themselves on bringing life into the world, raising families, working and providing for their loved ones and caring for all those who come into their paths.
This country has seen women soar in all spheres of life, from media, politics, law enforcement and business, all the way to the Presidency.
There has been no doubt that women possess extraordinary strength and prowess – juggling both family life and the demands of a career.
But many women in this country have also been suffering in silence.
While smiling on the outside, many have endured and still endure violence at the hands of loved ones.
Sadly, in just about every nook and cranny of this country, there is that woman who is being abused with no end in sight.
So many others have also lost their lives in a gruesome fashion.
The recent disappearance and murders of Ashanti Riley and Andrea Bharatt placed the spotlight on another aspect of cruelty meted out to women and girls, who often fall victim to sexual sadists.
But now, women are no longer alone and in agony.
The country is listening.
Gender-based violence and domestic violence are no longer “not my business” in Trinidad and Tobago; now they are everybody’s business. They are being seen for what they are – crimes against women. Crimes that are no longer culturally accepted. Crimes that can no longer be buffered with an apology or easily dismissed.
These crimes have been hurting this country’s women and doing unspeakable damage to the heart of this nation – which women undoubtedly are.
Fortunately, citizens have come together realising it must stop and have demanded those in leadership positions do more than offer the customary platitudes.
Much to their credit, those in Government have heard the pleas and are doing their part to effect the change and offer the protection that women so badly need.
Former US President Barack Obama once said, “You can judge a nation, and how successful it will be, based on how it treats its women and its girls.”
Trinidad and Tobago, it seems, is finally on a journey to real success because it understands it can no longer treat its women poorly and savagely.
It is, at last, now listening to what women have to say.