AMCHAM T&T Champions Gender Equity at 9th Women’s Leadership Conference

By Kennedy Everett Maraj
Communications and Events Officer - AMCHAM T&T

LINKAGE Q1 (2023) - Woman's Leadership: Embrace Equity

G ender equality and equity are a major pillar of AMCHAM T&T’s work. Having already secured gender parity on its board of directors since 2020, the organisation has a longstanding record of advocating for increased opportunities for women and girls throughout every aspect of society.

Through its flagship women’s leadership conference, which is held annually in March in commemoration of International Women’s Day, AMCHAM T&T celebrates the accomplishments of women in leadership roles while shining a spotlight on some of the issues that hinder their equal and full participation in the workplace and wider society.

The backdrop of this year’s 9th Women’s Leadership Conference held on March 10th was IWD’s theme “Embrace Equity”, which calls on every individual to actively support and embrace equity within their own sphere of influence. AMCHAM T&T President Toni Sirju-Ramnarine gave the welcoming remarks at the opening ceremony of the conference and said that tackling gender equity was now the business of everyone to help create a fair and equal world.

“If we are going to provide opportunities for all of our daughters to reach their fullest potential and ensure that they are safe and respected wherever they go, then we must accept that we each have a part to play to challenge gender stereotypes, call out discrimination, draw attention to bias, and seek out justice and inclusion in all spaces,” Sirju-Ramnarine said.

She also reminded the largely female audience to also take the time to identify, highlight and celebrate their progress and achievements to inspire the next generation of young girls. “For a young nation, it’s a testament to our progress and growth that we have already seen women ascend to the highest offices and positions in our country: Prime Minister, President, and the most recent examples - our first female Police Commissioner, and second President - show how far women have come and how much they have achieved.”

Sirju-Ramnarine also called on the audience to not ignore the realities that women face even as they celebrate their progress. “We read headlines about ’Period Poverty‘ existing in Trinidad and Tobago according to a recent study that said that women are unable to access basic and essential items such as menstrual products.”

Indeed, there are many issues facing women that are not spoken about because they are still viewed as taboo. “Where is the research into the physical and mental effects of perimenopause and menopause on women in the workplace?” Sirju-Ramnarine asked. “It is so not spoken about that I’m not even sure women understand them, far less men! We need to change this.”

She also cited the violence perpetrated against girls and women as a major issue that needs to be addressed immediately. “307 women were killed in the past six years from violent confrontations attributed to domestic violence and gang-related activities. These are the cases that sadly ended in murder, it is not counting the number of violent acts committed against women and girls that are both reported and not reported.”

Sirju-Ramnarine said what we needed now is more leaders stepping up to create opportunities for women to maintain their worth and live within the freedom of their own rights to make their own decisions. “The issues we address today will require the full commitment and participation of everyone showing up to address discrimination, combat stereotypes, and promote peace and equality. Therefore, we need more men who are wise enough to listen, strong enough to stand with us, and brave enough to champion change and progress.”

This point was also made by U.S. Ambassador Her Excellency Candace A. Bond, who delivered the keynote address at the opening ceremony. “For the inclusion of women, men must be allies. And ultimately, integrating marginalised or excluded voices is not about restricting access. Including women is not at the expense of men,” Bond said. “Rather, the goal of inclusion is ensuring balanced opportunity and access.”

Bond says it is a proven fact that equity and inclusion are economic issues. “Societies that exclude entire demographics, restrict access to opportunity and stifle inclusion pay an economic cost. For example, it is estimated that closing gender gaps in the workforce around the world would add between $12 and $28 trillion in global GDP.”

That’s why Bond says the economic security of women and girls in all of their diversity is essential to the realisation of their human rights and fundamental freedoms and strengthening communities, promoting peace and security, and building resilient, growing economies both for the United States and our allies and partners. 

“Gender equity and equality are not only a matter of human rights and fairness, but when present together they promote inclusive economic growth; advance peace, security, and the prevention and resolution of conflicts; and protect against gender-based violence,” Bond said. 

Bond also said securing gender equity and equality would help address global challenges more effectively, such as the climate crisis, forced displacement, the COVID-19 pandemic, and resulting economic and social disruptions. 

For these reasons, Bond said ensuring that all people, regardless of their gender identity, could achieve their full potential, was both a moral and a strategic imperative. “Gender equity and equality are at the very heart of human rights; therefore, it is paramount that we continue to forge ahead to find solutions and create opportunities for all affected.”

This year’s Women’s Leadership Conference broke an attendance record with over 400 persons registered for the event. Participants were treated to four insightful and impactful panel discussions that explored topics on “Embracing the ‘E‘ in DEI” [Diversity, Equity, Inclusion], “Financial Wellbeing”, “Building Self-Worth” and lessons from pioneering female leaders who offered important advice to help women “Dare To Lead”. 

Click the view the WLC 2023 Embrace Equity GALLERY


Kennedy Everett Maraj is the Communications and Events Officer at AMCHAM T&T.