International Women's Day
International Women's Day has been observed since in the early 1900's, a time of great expansion and turbulence in the industrialized world that saw booming population growth and the rise of radical ideologies.Our feminist struggles and those of our foremothers on every continent have forged new freedoms for us, our daughters and sons, and all the young girls and boys who will walk the earth after us.
We are building a world where diversity is considered an asset and individuality a source of richness; where dialogue flourishes and where writing, song and dreams can flower. In this world, human beings are considered one of the most precious sources of wealth. Equality, freedom, solidarity, justice, and peace are its driving force. We have the power to create this world. We represent over half of humanity. We give life, we work, love, create, struggle, and have fun. We currently accomplish most of the work essential to life and the continued survival of humankind. Yet our place in society continues to be undervalued.
The new millennium has witnessed a significant change and attitudinal shift in both women's and society's thoughts about women's equality and emancipation. Many from a younger generation feel that 'all the battles have been won for women' while many feminists from the 1970's know only too well the longevity and ingrained complexity of patriarchy. With more women in the boardroom, greater equality in legislative rights, and an increased critical mass of women's visibility as impressive role models in every aspect of life, one could think that women have gained true equality. The unfortunate fact is that women are still not paid equally to that of their male counterparts, women still are not present in equal numbers in business or politics, and globally women's education, health and the violence against them is worse than that of men.
However, great improvements have been made and so, the tone and nature of IWD has for the past few years, moved from being a reminder about the negatives to a celebration of the positives.
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50 years of International Women’s Day in Trinidad and TobagoInternational Women’s Day has been celebrated in Trinidad and Tobago for 50 years. Since 1958 Christina Lewis and the Caribbean Women’s National Assembly began organizing rallies and placard protests for maternity benefits, equal pay and other democratic rights for women in Trinidad and Tobago, These celebrations continued in the 60s and 70s, Christina Lewis died in 1974.
From the mid eighties it was decided that joint national celebrations could be organized for International Women’s day. These joint celebrations were coordinated by the Democratic Women’s Association and Women Working for Social Progress.
Over time these celebrations grew and more women’s organizations got involved. It became traditional to have a Rally in Woodford Square on March 8th, with a lunch time March through the streets of Port of Spain. For the past decade the celebrations have been coordinated by the Network of NGOs of Trinidad and Tobago for the Advancement of Women. A week of celebrations, with a theme, has included a variety of activities including Church Services, Award Ceremonies, Exhibitions, Seminars and workshops. We have seen celebrations by municipal corporations, government ministries and other public and private organizations for their clients. And we expect these to continue in 2008.
In 2008 we will focus on the issue of ‘Value for women’s work’ and take the celebration to the local communities. Collaboration with the Ministry of Community Development Culture and Gender Affairs has been an important feature of the celebration in the past and we hope to be able to continue that strong relationship even as we change the format and focus of the celebrations.