Soraya Khan - President,
InterClub of Trinidad & Tobago
When InterClub was founded in 1984 and 39 years later, our membership continues to honour the mission statement “to empower all women, especially the marginalised and underserved.” On behalf of our members, I am delighted to join women across the globe in celebrating International Women’s Day (IWD). This celebration at the local level in T&T takes place every year. Our annual IWD Tea is now a staple on the calendar of events of T&T. This year was no different, as we celebrated IWD with our Annual Afternoon Tea at the Hilton Trinidad on March 5.
Over the years, our concerns have been amplified by the various reports of violence against women and human trafficking of women particularly for prostitution. We partnered with the Ministry of National Security in 2020 and became part of the working group to implement the National Plan of Action against trafficking in persons. As part of the Prevention Team, we worked in collaboration with the Counter Trafficking Unit of the Ministry of National Security and others to raise awareness of this scourge that has become a very frightening part of our national life.
While we concentrate primarily on the plight of women and children in troubled areas, the Brahma Kumaris, another member group of the InterClub, working for peace, embarked in 1988 on a Prison Ministry at Carrera for men, which continues. One of the projects is art in the form of paintings. They produce annually an art exhibition, which is always exhibited at the InterClub’s International Day’s Annual Tea with an auction of one of the paintings.
The other paintings are exhibited at another venue later on for sale. Proceeds from these sales are ploughed back into the project so that supplies could be purchased, and the project maintained. The paintings are done by some of the prisoners at Carrera, and our sister member, Kay Narinesingh is the person responsible for this project.
Another significant highlight of the event is the presentation of the InterClub’s Annual Award to a woman who made an outstanding contribution to motivating women to reach their full potential by empowering them in one way or the other. Our recipient this year was Ms Shihan Marva John-Logan of The Ryu Dan Dojo Youth Empower Centre in Enterprise, Chaguanas. She was recognised not only by the InterClub but also by the UN, USAID International, countering violent extremism, and the Ministry of Sport and Community Development; speaking on platforms on crime and violence and often sharing her difficult life’s journey, all to inspire others to do better.
We are thankful to the many supporters who purchased tickets to attend the annual event which saw many foundation members, former presidents, current presidents of our 17 women’s NGOs and several dignitaries. We are delighted that Cabinet ministers, Senator the Honourable Donna Cox, Minister of Social Development and Family Services, The Honourable Penelope Beckles-Robinson, Minister of Planning and Development, the Honourable Kamla Persad-Bissessar, Leader of the Opposition, Commissioner of Police, Mrs Erla Harewood-Christopher, Asst Commissioner of Prisons, Mr Joseph Nelson, wife of the Honourable Prime Minister of T&T Mrs Sharon Rowley and Mrs Zalayhar Hassanali, wife of former president Noor Hassanali, who all took time out of their business schedules to attend the event and joined us in the usual lighting of the candles, all singing “I am Woman”–All Embracing Equity.
As I shared last Sunday in my contribution, “We are women, we are powerful, we are determined, we can do anything we put our minds to. We are mothers, sisters, daughters, wives,” and the list goes on. We are not accepting that in our society organisations are allowed to prosper through prostitution and the sale of women and children for profit. Citizens, we cannot close our eyes to what is happening in our country and remain silent. We, the women of the InterClub, will do all in our power to assist other collaborative bodies in their efforts to eradicate these crimes.
In closing, I would like to say to the women of our islands, that together we can skip and jump at the same time, and together we can move mountains so that great things can happen. Let us continue to shine, empower each other, empower our families, our communities, our country, and eventually the world. Yes, we can, because we are women. Happy International Women’s Day!
Women’s Groups of the InterClub
* African Women’s Association of Trinidad and Tobago (AWA)
* Brahma Kumaris Women’s Group
* Canadian Women’s Group
* CEDAW Committee of T&T (CCoTT)
* Hindu Women’s Organisation of T&T inc.
* Indian Women’s Group of Trinidad and Tobago
* Inner Wheel Club of Trinidad and Tobago
* Multicultural Club of Trinidad and Tobago
* National Muslim Women’s Organisation of T&T
* Network of NGOs
* Network of Rural Women Producers of T&T
* Petroleum Women’s Club of Trinidad and Tobago
* Soroptimist International Chaguanas
* Soroptimist International Esperance
* Syrian/Lebanese Women’s Association (SLWA)
* Women in Action for the Needy & Destitute (WAND)
* Women of Substance–Tobago
Shihan Marva John-Logan
Very early in my life, I knew that I wanted to be somebody great in the world, somebody that others could depend on. I had no idea what my purpose was but I knew I wanted to be someone that would positively impact the world. I know this because, from my early years, I was helping our family and people in my community, with simple chores, my peers with schoolwork, and senior citizens by reading the newspaper or cleaning their homes. Many times after helping the people in my community they would give me a small token for the service. I had no idea at that time helping freely without looking for any reward would in turn do just that.
The message I want to leave for the entire world is this, “Each one, teach one; Each one, help one; One team, one voice; Nobody gets left behind.”
Every life is important. Provide opportunities for our youths, and they will grab on to it for a positive outcome. Don’t lock them out. Do not!!! Words have power, speak positive things into their lives and positive things will happen. Protect our girls and women because there is no future without us.
I leave you with peace and love. Blessings.