Today, as I join Trinidad and Tobago and the rest of the global community in commemorating International Day of the Girl, it is my hope that we all pledge to ensure that our girls and young women are provided with every opportunity to build their skills, expand their knowledge and fulfill their potential.
Here in Trinidad and Tobago, we’ve made great strides in ensuring that our children have access to pre-school, primary, secondary and tertiary education. Our girls and young women are indeed fortunate to be able to access opportunities for employment, healthcare and other services, however, the challenges of poverty, abuse, reduced access to education and gender discrimination remain hurdles that we must work harder to overcome.
Under my leadership, Trinidad and Tobago stood out as a leader in seeking the interest of girls and women in various facets of national life.
In a Commonwealth report in 2011 focusing on girls, our country was ranked at the highest level in providing access to education for girls and the quality of education we provided. We were also ranked the third best country in the Commonwealth in which a girl could be born.
The Government I led bridged the cultural, social and political gender gaps that put us at number 36 out of 136 countries in the World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Report 2013, which measured the relative gaps between men and women in the areas of health, education, economics and politics.
But there is much more to do at home and globally.
This year’s theme: With Her: A Skilled GirlForce is significant, as it takes into account the challenges being faced with equipping our children with the skills required to enter the workforce of the future.
My vision is for a Trinidad and Tobago in which our children can take advantage of the Digital Age – the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
I want to see a future where all our children, have opportunities to explore fields such as coding, 3D printing, Artificial Intelligence, robotics, software and application development and more. It is truly an exciting time, and I have great hope for our future generations.
We have an obligation to encourage our daughters to dream and then work with them to accomplish those dreams. We must encourage them to be confident, to let their voices be heard, and to understand that each of them has a valuable contribution to make towards developing a brighter future for our country.
Today as we celebrate the International Day of the Girl, I re-commit to continue to do all I can to empower our nation’s girls and I encourage them to be bold, be brave and work hard towards achieving their goals and their dreams.
Leader of the Opposition