The theme of the workshop was The Gender Agenda: Gaining Momentum. (FP)

Approximately 60 females from this island’s 23 secondary schools now have a better understanding of issues surrounding gender, following a Girls’ Talk Workshop which was hosted by the National Task Force on Crime Prevention (NTFCP), today.

The event was held under the theme The Gender Agenda: Gaining Momentum, to observe International Women’s Day, which was celebrated on March 8.

In an interview with the media, Director of the NTFCP, Cheryl Willoughby, explained that the session was aimed at "empowering women to recognise that they have rights; to recognise that they have an agenda in terms of taking care of themselves, as well as their families; as well as sensitising them to some of the things that they can go through as it relates to relationships, not only with male counterparts, but relationships in general."

Ms. Willoughby noted that various gender issues were on the day’s programme, including the role of gender in violent acts against women, and stressed that: "It is very important [to get this message across] now because the gender issue is on the agenda all across the region."

Emphasising the importance of selecting young girls to participate in the workshop, the Director stated that through her research on sexual violence against women, it was discovered that young women are "at a serious risk of being sexually victimised". She also noted that those victims of sexually violent acts, were usually familiar with their aggressors.

"So, it is important that young girls understand that this gender issue is about respect, it’s about knowing your rights, it’s about protecting yourself, and it’s about empowering yourself to do better, so these are the things we want to get across to these young ladies. It’s about the way you carry yourself, it’s about your dress, and it’s about how you interact with each other. So, it’s quite wide what we’re trying to do," Ms. Willoughby pointed out.

The Director expressed the hope that the participants would spread the message which they learned from the programme. "…We are hoping that this issue here that we are trying to sensitise these young ladies to is one of those things that they actually seek to put projects in place within the school system. We are hoping the message doesn’t die here but certainly it goes a lot further," she opined.


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