CAST participants graduate, reflect on living in a time of pandemic
October 6, 2020
Fun is essential, let’s get physical!
October 6, 2020

Recognising the rights of the girl child

By Leela Ramdeen, Chair, CCSJ & Director, CREDI

“In order to stop violence against girls and women and instill the values of respect, dignity, honesty and morality towards all human beings, we must start from the family, which is the fundamental basis of society…What happens behind the walls of the home is reflected on a larger scale in society…Parents need to be the first instruments of change”

(Msgr Savio Fernandes, Auxiliary Bishop of Mumbai)

Violence/discrimination against girls and women is pervasive and occurs in every country, in every segment of society, regardless of class, ethnicity, or culture and quite literally from womb to tomb.

Their human rights continue to be violated daily in many countries because of poverty; gender preference—in favour of boys; abortion; sexual harassment; the sexualisation of girls; genital mutilation; rape; incest; domestic violence; human trafficking; child-brides/forced marriages; denial of the right to own property or to be educated; illiteracy; murder (including ‘honour killing’) etc.

This Sunday, October 11 is the International Day of the Girl Child (girls under the age of 18 years). The theme this year is: My Voice, Our Equal Future. The day “focuses attention on the need to address the challenges girls face and to promote girls’ empowerment and the fulfillment of their human rights… Women and girls represent half of the world’s population and, therefore, also half of its potential. Gender equality, besides being a fundamental human right, is essential to achieve peaceful societies…

The world is home to more than 1.1 billion girls under age 18, who are poised to become the largest generation of female leaders, entrepreneurs and change-makers the world has ever seen…Every day, girls are breaking boundaries and barriers, tackling issues like child marriage, education inequality, violence, climate justice, and inequitable access to healthcare. Girls are proving they are unstoppable… As entrepreneurs, innovators and initiators of global movements, girls are creating a world that is relevant for them and future generations… Only by ensuring the rights of women and girls across all the Sustainable Development  Goals will we get to justice and inclusion, economies that work for all, and sustaining our shared environment now and for future generations… Ending all forms of discrimination against women and girls is not only a basic human right, but it also has a multiplier effect across all other development areas.

Worldwide, nearly 1 in 4 girls aged 15–19 years is neither employed nor in education or training compared to 1 in 10 boys of the same age. By 2021 around 435 million women and girls will be living on less than US $1.90 a day — including 47 million pushed into poverty as a result of COVID-19… Emerging data shows that since the outbreak of COVID-19, violence against women and girls (VAWG), and particularly domestic violence, has INTENSIFIED. At least 60% of countries still discriminate against daughters’ rights to inherit land and non-land assets in either law or practice” (UN).

Reflect on the needs/challenges girls face in T&T. Are we investing in/empowering them? We can’t leave this up to our Government alone. We are the Body of Christ; we must SEE-JUDGE-ACT.

While we celebrate the progress that has been made over the years, we have a long way to go before we truly create a culture in which girl children can flourish; can achieve equity and equality; can realise their dreams.


Webinar on World Day against the Death Penalty

I am also the Chair of the Greater Caribbean for Life (GCL). In 2018, Pope Francis changed the Church’s teaching. He said that the death penalty is contrary to the gospel and is inadmissible in ALL cases; it is “an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person”,  and that the Catholic Church would work for its abolition across the world.

Saturday, October 10 is the 18th World Day against the Death Penalty. GCL will be hosting a FREE virtual panel discussion on the theme Access to Counsel: A matter of life or death.

Time: 1 p.m.

Moderator: Cara Shillingford –Attorney-at-Law, Dominica, and Member of GCL Executive

I will open the session. Juan Luis Molinuevo – European Union Delegation to T&T, Officer in Charge, will express words of solidarity.

Featured speakers:

Archbishop Charles Jason Gordon – Trinidad and Tobago

Kevin Rivera-Medina – President of the World Coalition Against Death Penalty, Puerto Rico

Gregory Delzin – Attorney-at-Law, Trinidad and Tobago

Dr David Dorsett – Attorney-at-Law and Anti-Death Penalty Activist, Antigua and Barbuda

Juan Melendez-Colon – Exoneree (Witness to Innocence)

You can register via the link:

In his new Encyclical, Fratelli Tutti, Pope Francis reiterates his assertion that the death penalty is “inadmissible” and that the Catholic Church is committed to its abolition worldwide. He says:

“The firm rejection of the death penalty shows to what extent it is possible to recognise the inalienable dignity of every human being and to accept that he or she has a place in this universe.”