Dear Young Trinbagonian Girl,
You can be anything you want.
Historically, women like Audrey Jeffers and Beatrice Grieg, amongst many other remarkable women, fought to be able to work as your teacher, doctor, police officer and even your mail-woman, to name a few. They fought to make sure that they had a seat at the most important tables in our society.
They’ve inspired many women and girls to go beyond set limits. However, they also fought for you to forgo child marriage, go to school, aspire to achieve greatness, excel in your dream job and vote for the things that matter most to you. Due in great part to their efforts and many remarkable women after them, when your teachers ask you what you want to be when you grow up, President and Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago will not seem so much like a far-fetched reply, as President-elect Paula Mae Weekes and Kamla Persad Bisessar have already proven.
In fact, becoming a politician no longer has to destroy your dreams of becoming a queen. Take, for instance, Janelle Commisiong, the first black woman to be awarded the Miss Universe title. She even showed her prowess through her position in the Ministry of Tourism.
You can design your own picture of beauty like fashion designers Ayana Ife and Anya Ayoung Chee. You can compete in the Olympics in a sport that steps outside of social expectations like gymnast Thema Williams or you can be the fun-loving inspiring songstress that is Calypso Rose with songs that propel women to exercise their right to speak up in public places.
You can even be a doctor that starts a massive company that uses DNA testing to find the cure for breast cancer like Gerneiva Parkinson.
The presence of this number of female leaders in Trinidad and Tobago is not only a testament to the progress we have made in society with regards to women’s rights, but it also says that you can be any of these things and so much more, despite societal expectations, prejudices, stereotypes, violence, harassment and many other patriarchal limitations that exist today. Despite your position as a Caribbean girl in a world where you are typically not the archetype of success.
Know that it is not just that you can be anything you want. It is now that you have the right to!
The efforts of Beatrice Grieg and Audrey Jeffers have birthed a plethora of women’s organisations, like CAFRA, the Life in Leggings Movement, IDGS, The Rape Crisis Society, PLOTT and WOMANTRA to name a few, with militant women that will never stop fighting for your dreams. They will never stop fighting for you to be anything you want.
Take up the mantle, #BalanceForBetter
And this International Women’s Day with their commitment to #BalanceForBetter for gender justice in Trinidad and Tobago, it is safe to say that they will never stop until you have access to equal rights and opportunities. They will never stop until you too are seated with them at the most important table.
Due to the continuous efforts of the female leaders and fighters that are standing behind you today, Young Trinbagonian Girl, I can tell you, with conviction, that you can be anything you want.
Everyone that stands for the Women’s Rights Movement of Trinidad and Tobago.