March 2018

Issue Home >>


Gender justice is named as one of The UWI’s Core Values. It means more than equality or treating everyone the same. It refers to equity, recognizing that the world values, constrains, harms and privileges different kinds of women and men in narrow and unfair ways. These are often linked to our beliefs and stereotypes about womanhood and manhood, gender roles and sexual freedoms.

Our approaches to Caribbean transformation need to not be naïve about how these shape the conditions within which we make choices, aspire, love, resist and break silences. Thus, gender justice requires true fairness in process and outcome; true commitment to fearlessly challenging hierarchies of power, whether in politics, business, the home or in reproductive rights; and true understanding that a world without violence against women, sexual harassment, homophobia, pay inequality – and more – is ours to envision and make possible.

The Institute for Gender and Development Studies (IGDS) has long had a commitment to gender justice. In the late 1990s, Professor Eudine Barriteau, now Principal of the Cave Hill Campus, began to write about this as a necessary part of wider social, economic and political egalitarianism in the region.

Twenty years later, the IGDS is the University’s flagship response to Caribbean societies and students’ desires for a better understanding of gender relations’ tensions and transformations, and the Institute is often the hub for mainstreaming gender justice across the University and wider region. To that end, along with our partners, we offer three events this week to include and inspire you.

Monday, March 5: #PressforGenderJustice

The UWI, St. Augustine Campus in collaboration with the Interclub of Trinidad and Tobago launches a week of IWD activities with a national public forum aimed to strengthen sensitization and advocacy. It starts at 9.30am at the School of Education Auditorium.

In keeping with the United Nation’s theme for International Women’s Day 2018, “Time is Now: Rural and Urban Activists Transforming Women’s Lives,” the forum will highlight the work of activists and advocates in the areas of economic justice, peace and security, sexual justice and ecological justice. Academics will bring a conceptual overview and community activists will speak about the work they have been doing to advance gender justice.

Featured speakers include Mrs. Sharon Rowley, and panelists Dr. Anne-Marie Mohammed (Lecturer, Department of Economics), Dr. Levi Gahman (Lecturer, Department of Geography), Ms. Roberta Clarke (President, Coalition Against Domestic Violence), Dr. Angelique Nixon (Lecturer, IGDS), Ms. Jewel Marshall (St. Barb’s Community Women in Action), Ms. Yashoda Singh (Cashew Gardens Community Recycling Programme), Dr. Catherine Ali (Palmasola Women’s Group) and Ms. Sharon Mottley (Women’s Caucus).

Thursday, March 8: #CaribbeanMenCan

The IGDS, the High Commission of Canada and the Interclub are hosting a morning event where men will express their solidarity with the struggle for women’s rights. From business men to sportsmen, they will be recording statements like these showing their willingness to be visible and vocal allies:

  • It’s time for women to be 50% of the region’s parliaments. Caribbean men can endorse women’s leadership
  • Women in sports deserve equal pay for equal play. Caribbean men can change the game
  • Ads that sell sex and stereotypes, harm girls’ self-esteem. Caribbean men can change the message
  • Women are climbing the corporate ladder, but are still underrepresented at the top. Caribbean men can make boardroom equality our business
  • Children can’t blossom when gangs grow. Caribbean men can work together to end insecurity
  • Sexual harassment remains an everyday issue. Caribbean men can make our society safe
  • Even working women do the majority of house work. Caribbean men can do better. Share the care
  • Sexual relations need consent. Caribbean men can end rape culture
  • Gender equality is everyone’s responsibility. Caribbean men can be allies for women’s rights

These statements will form part of the social media campaign #CaribbeanMenCan, conceptualized by the IGDS as a defining theme of now and future IWD commemorations. All men are welcome to post these solidarity messages as videos or text on their own Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram profiles, to paint or print them on posters and T-shirts when they march with us in Port of Spain, and to them implement these commitments in their families, communities and workplaces.

Saturday, March 10: #SpeakYourTruth

The most public act of solidarity has historically been the IWD march. This year marks its sixtieth anniversary in Trinidad and Tobago. In 1958, Christina Lewis was among leading organisers of the march in San Fernando and, if you want to be part of continuing this history, you can march through Port of Spain on March 8. Alternatively, you can rally with hundreds of other women and men from 3pm on March 10 opposite White Hall, and around the Savannah.

Paint your own posters and t-shirts with your concerns, issues and messages, bring your family, and create a safe space in public to speak out for gender justice.

To watch and upload solidarity statements, and for a broader and growing list of activities happening this week, visit the Facebook event page:

For example, on Friday 9, IGDS will also be represented at AMCHAM’s Annual Women’s Leadership Conference, forging closer links with the private sector. Gender justice affects all our lives. Let’s gather to strengthen how we collectively #pressforprogress, now and in the future.

Dr. Gabrielle Hosein is head of the Institute for Gender and Development Studies, St. Augustine Unit, The UWI, St. Augustine Campus.