Co-founder of Women. Everywhere. Adeline Gregoire, kicked off International Women’s Week 2017 with the event WE Mean Business, on March 6 at B3 Wines and Spirits, The Normandie, St Ann’s.

The mission statement, ‘Share. Inspire. Empower.’ is a call to action from the new NGO, Women. Everywhere. An organisation committed to driving meaningful and lasting change in the lives of women, girls, and all citizens of Trinidad and Tobago.

Women. Everywhere. co-founders Adeline Gregoire and Ardene Sirjoo. Photo courtesy: Women. Everywhere.

Women. Everywhere. was co-founded and is directed by Adeline Gregoire. The organisation launched International Women’s Week in T&T in 2017 under the worldwide theme Be Bold for Change; it ran from March 6- 11.  During that week Women. Everywhere. organised a programme of ten events dedicated to celebrating the achievements  of women and girls, in addition to providing spaces for discussion on issues such as becoming activists for change, obstacles to female empowerment and the representation of women in the media.

“We believe that no step is too small,” says Gregoire, a graduate of the Université de Caen, Basse Normandie, France, who holds an MA in multicultural project management and BSc in education (early childhood and gender studies). She discovered her passion for female empowerment and gender equality while exploring feminist themes in her final years in high school. Since then, she has continued to be a fierce defender of women’s and children’s rights, questioning embedded sexist attitudes and systems, promoting empowerment and personal development for all women and girls.

“We must demand greater social accountability, systems that promote economic development, gender parity and a culture of respect.  These steps will make that difference in our lives: the lives of women everywhere, here in Trinidad and Tobago, and beyond.”

While T&T boasts a significant proportion of educated, highly qualified women, women’s progress seems stunted in key metrics. Out of 42 Members of Parliament, only 13 are women. That’s less than 30 per cent. Rates of gender-based violence are high, with an average of four women or girls killed in T&T every month from January- March 2017. Sexism in the mass media is as alarming in T&T as it is worldwide. According to UN Women in a Beijing-20 article online, “Research spanning more than 100 countries found that 46 per cent of news stories, in print and on radio and television, uphold gender stereotypes. Only six per cent highlight gender equality. Behind the scenes, men still occupy 73 per cent of top media management positions, according to another global study spanning 522 news media organisations.”

“Women. Everywhere. seeks to encourage a fresh look at feminism in 2017 and what it actually means to be feminist in our world today,” the organisation said in a release. “For Women. Everywhere. the feminist agenda is and must be all-inclusive, one of collective concern, focused on ensuring basic human rights for women and girls as it pertains to their education, safety, security, economic independence, and creating enabling environments where women and girls are actively encouraged to achieve their full potential, thereby becoming empowered.”

Women. Everywhere. recognises that men and boys must become allies in the ongoing fight for gender equality, equal pay a culture of respect. Gregoire says, “The role of men and boys in the female equation has to change drastically. We have to deal with rampant stereotypes. Representation of women as sexual objects for male pleasure, as physically inferior, and systematically as being in a supportive role behind or below men must change. The biggest obstacle to female empowerment is patriarchy and ordinary sexism, machismo.”

“Men must be held accountable for sexist and violent behaviour (verbal and physical), unacceptable actions and/ or lack thereof in pushing the female agenda forward. Now, more than ever they must value and promote the feminist cause, therefore becoming advocates for the best possible quality of life for all women and girls in their respective circles,” she says.

Women. Everywhere. is committed to citizen action while stimulating dialogue, asking hard questions and placing emphasis on female empowerment as a fundamental to building sustainable and developed societies.

This means promoting the female and feminist agenda every day:  constantly re-working the blocks of our societies—which have been placed in a pre-conceived patriarchal frame (by men, for men), so that women and girls are allowed to enjoy a life where they are regarded and respected as equals, and have access a future which is safe and fulfilling.

The second International Women’s Week (IWW 2018) in Trinidad and Tobago is scheduled from March 7- 11 2018. Women. Everywhere. is already accepting applications for volunteers and partners to be a part of it.  Address inquiries to: director@women-everywhere.com.