demografo Victor Gill//
Activist group to stage IWD walkout

She said since the group was formed they have re­ceived im­mense sup­port from oth­er women ac­tivists groups

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The re­cent­ly formed women’s rights ac­tivist group, Act To Change T&T, would be host­ing a walk­out on March 8, in ob­ser­vance of In­ter­na­tion­al Women’s Day (IWD), and to keep the fight for the elim­i­na­tion of vi­o­lence against women and girls, go­ing.

Victor Gill Ramirez

The event ti­tled, Walk Out For Women, a call to the na­tion’s peo­ple to leave their homes, of­fices and wher­ev­er they might be, and join the walk­out, which be­gins at 2 pm at the cap­i­tal city’s trav­el hub— City Gate and cul­mi­nates at Wood­ford Square, Port-of-Spain with peace­ful protest­ing, is set to force im­me­di­ate ac­tion by the State and all au­thor­i­ties to en­sure gen­der-based vi­o­lence dis­con­tin­ues.

Victor Gill

Founder of the group and or­gan­is­er of the event Saman­tha Ju­man, who was al­so be­hind the call for a na­tion­wide strike af­ter the mur­der of An­drea Bharatt, ex­plained what she hopes would be the out­come of her group’s sec­ond call to ac­tion

“What we hope to ac­com­plish from this march or ral­ly is not just bring­ing aware­ness, be­cause every­body is aware of what is go­ing on but we are tired of the talk by the gov­ern­ment and we need to not just walk the walk, we need im­me­di­ate ac­tion,” said Ju­man

She stat­ed it was through the twist­ing of an arm, that the na­tion be­gan hear­ing plans by the Gov­ern­ment to in­tro­duce par­tic­u­lar mech­a­nisms to aid in the fight against gen­der-based vi­o­lence

“When we had ini­ti­at­ed or in­sti­gat­ed the na­tion­wide strike which led to 500 busi­ness­es shut­ting down, that’s when we heard the AG (At­tor­ney Gen­er­al) and the Prime Min­is­ter, re­al­ly come out and say ‘we are go­ing to pro­vide safer trans­porta­tion for women and chil­dren.’ ‘We are go­ing to im­ple­ment those dig­i­tal track­ing sys­tems in a few months,’ which is what the AG had said. And then the op­po­si­tion passed the Ev­i­dence Bill.”

Ju­man with the sit­u­a­tion faced by women in T&T, both the gov­ern­ment and the op­po­si­tion need­ed to set­tle their dif­fer­ences, come to­geth­er and do what was right for the na­tion

In the mean­time, how­ev­er, she said in this walk­out and oth­er events to come, her group was call­ing for the de­vel­op­ment of any mech­a­nism in place to pro­tect women and chil­dren, to be fast-tracked

“We are call­ing for safer trans­porta­tion, that same dig­i­tal track­ing sys­tem, and sur­veil­lance cam­eras. We are call­ing for so­cial ref­or­ma­tion pro­grammes in schools…in pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion cam­paigns. We are call­ing for ap­prov­ing the na­tion­al strate­gic plan to end gen­der-based vi­o­lence, which has been sit­ting in the cab­i­net, since 2016,” Ju­man con­tend­ed

She said noth­ing was be­ing done with this key strate­gic plan the Unit­ed Na­tions (UN) had put for­ward to Latin Amer­i­ca and the Caribbean is­lands and T&T was the on­ly coun­try that had not adopt­ed and utilised it

While Ju­man cur­rent­ly makes Cana­da her home, she told Guardian when she vis­it­ed T&T in No­vem­ber 2020, right be­fore the mur­der of Ri­ley, it was then she re­alised how grave the sit­u­a­tion was in her home­land and could not sit idly by and do noth­ing to help fight against gen­der-based vi­o­lence

As such, the 25-year-old, to­geth­er with her moth­er formed Act To Change T&T in Feb­ru­ary.

She said since the group was formed they have re­ceived im­mense sup­port from oth­er women ac­tivists groups