Image courtesy UN Women.

The Association of Female Executives in Trinidad and Tobago (AFETT) is calling for a multi-pronged and many-layered approach in dealing with the issue of Gender Based Violence (GBV) in this country, stating that it should be a national priority, all year round.

In an official statement issued today, recently elected AFETT president, Dixie-Ann Dixon, points out that men need psycho-social support to bring about behaviour change, and that arming women is not enough to end the GBV scourge.

“While we need to look out for our women, we also need to pay closer attention to our young men, particularly at an early age, ensuring that they have respect for women and provide safe outlets for expressing themselves and their emotions,” Dixon observes.

“Arming our women—with pepper spray and firearms—is only one short-term measure that should be put in place.  We must do more for our men in society, working with guidance counsellors, communities, our education system and family networks,” she argues.

In the release, AFETT cites as statement by Commissioner of Police, Gary Griffith, on December 8, in which he reported: “Gender Based Violence (GBV) is a leading cause of death for women in Trinidad and Tobago… almost half the women killed in Trinidad and Tobago so far in 2020 were killed through domestic violence.”

AFETT also notes data from the United Nations, concerning the upsurge in violence against women during 2020, a year besieged by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The executive and members of AFETT join the international community in condemning any act of violence targeting vulnerable girls and women in our country.  Governments and societies at large have the responsibility of protecting the most vulnerable in their midst.  We also have a collective responsibility for our failure to protect the women who have been affected and afflicted by Gender-Based Violence,” the AFETT release said.

“Globally, in the past 12 months, over 243 million women and girls aged 15-49 were abused by an intimate partner (UN-women 2020). We see that the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a number of negative, crippling effects on countries’ economies, health care systems, and populations particularly women, in terms of their psychological, physical and emotional well-being,” the release states. 

It adds: “The apparent ‘shadow epidemic’ of GBV arose when countries implemented lockdown measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus.  Violence against women, especially domestic violence, increased.  Women have been made more vulnerable to exploitation, harassment and abuse because of the pandemic, and tragically Trinidad and Tobago is not immune.”

Dixie-Ann Dickson, AFETT President, said activism to end violence against women should be every day of the year.

Image courtesy UN Women.

She notes that the UN Secretary-General’s campaign, UNiTE by 2030 to End Violence against Women, marked 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence between 25 November to 10 December 2020, under the global theme, ‘Orange the World: Fund, Respond, Prevent, Collect!’.

“AFETT is challenging everyone to continue this awareness throughout the year. While December 10th marked the end of this campaign, it has initiated the start of our collective activism against GBV, which has to be consistently reviewed, reoriented and ramped-up as we move forward.  What we do, how we do it and whom we serve after December 10th, is what matters. Don’t let activism against GBV end on December 10th,” she urges.

She added: “In order to fight the scourge of GBV, there must be a collaborative approach among Civil Society, Faith-Based Organisations and the State.  We have partnered with Civil Society organisations in their fight against GBV and look forward to working with other agencies and engaging with the Government on this and other related issues.”

The AFETT president also says the organisation will be supporting the implementation plan and communication strategies and initiatives for the White Paper on the ‘National Child Policy’, which has emerged from the Gender and Child Affairs in the Office of the Prime Minister.

New AFETT Board of Directors to focus on gender issues

The new Board of Directors at AFETT, the Association of Female Executives in Trinidad and Tobago. (Image courtesy AFETT)

A new Board of Directors was voted into office on Friday 30 October 2020, when the Association of Female Executives of Trinidad and Tobago (AFETT) held its Annual General Meeting, virtually.  The new Board of Directors are as follows:

  • President – Dixie Ann Dickson
  • President Elect – Melena Simon-O’neil
  • Secretary – Desree Jack
  • Director, Programmes – Giselle Mitchell
  • Director, Membership – Afeisha Mc Kain
  • Director, Communications – Nicole Bachan
  • Director, Fundraising – Patries Ramkaran
  • Director, Finance – Sherleen Young-Griffith
  • Director, Social Outreach – Reneé Bain-Keller
  • Director, Research and Public Advocacy – Simone Francois-Whittier

The new AFETT Board held its first hybrid Strategic Planning meeting on 28 November 2020, during which it identified core areas of focus during its two-year term: Gender-Based violence; Gender Equality; Workplace Harassment; Personal and Professional Development and expanding its reach to Tobago.

In 2021, AFETT will have three major activities in the first quarter:

  1. AFETT’s first ‘Tech Drive’ for girls in Secondary Schools across Trinidad and Tobago. (Contact Nicole Bachan at 717-3813 or via email at [email protected] to learn more about the initiative.)
  1. Continuing AFETT’s Reach Mentorship Programme for young girls
  1. International Women’s Day Celebrations