Today, many women in Trinidad and Tobago are jumping and dancing and revelling in the spirit of ‘freeness’ on this Carnival Tuesday. Many of them have no idea that it’s also the 100th Anniversary of International Women’s Day. And perhaps in one way this a good thing: that women feel so comfortable in their skins; free to roam the streets in various levels of dress or ‘undress’; to sing, to dance, to ‘wine’ down to the ground without fear of judgement or reproach; free from the overwhelming responsibility of work and caring for the family. Surely, such an exuberant expression of women’s freedom is in fact the real significance and true celebration of International Women’s Day.
But what happens come Ash Wednesday when women will resume their regular lives? When a woman will be judged on everything from what she wears to how loudly she speaks in the workplace; when she will have to maneouver the dichotomy of being the boss-lady at work and the submissive wife at home; when her assault will be blamed on her walking down that street/ being in that classroom/ being in that bedroom/ in that skirt/ at that time. For saying that thing/ for doing that thing she knows will make him mad.
Despite the gains made by the women’s movement these past 100 years, certain attitudes, beliefs and prejudices still persist which prevent women from enjoying human rights on a basis of equality with men. Each one of us, wherever we are, can do something to help accelerate the social, structural and policy changes that are required to ensure that women are free from fear and intimidation; are allowed to use all their talents and express themselves fully; and can enjoy respectful and consenual intimate and romantic relationships.
The Womenspeak Project was developed to give women a voice; to allow women to participate in changing their world, and the place of women in that world, through the simple act of telling your story. Telling your story is a political act. It is an act which says:
“This is an issue that is important to me. This is wrong. This violates my rights as a full and equal citizen.”
The popularity of social networking has created a unique opportunity for women to be able to share their experiences, stimulate discussion and build a constituency and community of support around the issues that are important to us. It is an opportunity to ‘blow the lid’ on the reality of women’s lives, and to help us become more conscious of the ways in which such violations affect our physical, emotional and psychological health and well-being.
We belong to this world and this world belongs to us! The world stage is in front of us time to get Advantageous.
Simone Leid Founder, The Womenspeak Project