A huge gender wage gap has been identified as one of the biggest challenges facing women in T&T today.
Making the statement was co-ordinator of the Network of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) Hazel Brown at the proclamation of the month of March as International Women's Month held at City Hall, Port-of-Spain, on Monday.
"We say women and girls are staying in school and doing better but that good work is not translated to wages," Brown said.
At the last economic forum, she added, the difference between the average wage of a woman and a man in T&T was still huge and unacceptable.
"In 2012, the average for a woman in T&T was $9,000 whereas the average for a man was $18,000. It was double.
"In 2014, while the average income for a woman increased from $9,000 to $12,000, the average for the men was close to $30,000. So even though the women's average was rising, the gap between men and women was further widening," Brown said.
But she noted while there were some women earning a decent income there were many at the low-wage spectrum.
"And this is what brings the average right down. So in order to close the gap, the work that has to be done is to raise the level of income of women at the bottom.
"And that is why the minimum wage was important because the majority of people who are getting the minimum wage are those women who are at the bottom," Brown added.
She said one of the ways to close the gap was to build greater awareness among people and to provide women with the necessary skills training.
"Even the women at the top we have found are earning less than the men because when it comes to negotiating their own wages they aren't networking and sharing among themselves what the wages are," Brown said.
She said compared to other parts of the world, women and girls continued to make tremendous strides but there was still a lot of work to be done.
A recent statement issued from the Commonwealth noted that T&T was the third best country to grow up as a girl and the indices used were the number of women in Parliament and local government and the fact that there were many girls in school, Brown added. "There is always more work to be done but we are not doing badly. In fact we are doing fairly well," she said.
Brown said the media played an important role in how women and girls have been viewed by men.
Saying this was often reflected in certain advertisements, she added, "The media is contributing in all kinds of ways to projecting a negative view of women which is played out in the violence. It is not just one crazy man get up one morning and kill his wife.
"It is the messages he is getting that this woman is worthless and so on."
International Women's Day is observed annually on March 8. Brown said two things in focus this year are:
�2 Girls in the juvenile justice system. She said there are 11 juvenile girls being held at the Women's Prison at Golden Grove. "This injustice has arisen because of a lack of appropriate rehabilitation facilities for these girls. A stakeholder forum has been established to develop a short- and medium-term plan to address this problem."
�2 Women with disabilities
Brown said women with disabilities continue to be unable to access affordable healthcare services. A special one-day programme has been organised to provide much-needed healthcare services and information.