Women and Girls Celebrating Their Men and Boys - November 2018
In her opening address at the Association of Female Executives of Trinidad and Tobago’s (AFETT) latest Tea and Conversation Series held at NIPDEC’s Training Room on Thursday November 15th, the Association’s President Yolande Agard-Simmons declared,“With the
many controversies that have plagued us within the past few weeks surrounding intimate partner and gender-based violence; with the far too many images of young men and boys portrayed in the media as perpetrators of violence, I venture that the time has come for us, as a society, to understand that these boys and these men are not only perpetrators but are also victims themselves.” The event called “Women & Girls Celebrating our Men & Boys” was held in commemoration of International Men’s Day and was meant to bring women and men together to discuss issues relating to men in society.
As she outlined the importance of having the forum, Agard-Simmons noted that men in society were “victims of stereotyping and alienation”, that they were “victims to the negative influences of social media and to poor social and psychological systems” as well as “victims of a system that has ignored their value as role models and future leaders”.
The evening’s feature speakers were Terrance James, General Manager, NIPDEC, who has been instrumental in pioneering a number of community initiatives fostering the development of individuals from underprivileged communities; and Kevin Liverpool, founder and executive director of the Fatherhood Resource Centre, an NGO working to equip men and boys to succeed in their current and future roles within the family.
During his Address, Terrance James stressed the importance of fathers in families. “The most powerful role models for children sit across from them at the dinner table,” he explained. He discussed the narrative of what a “real man” is for society and noted that among other attributes a real man has the confidence “to be who he is”, is kind, considerate, does not choose to subjugate others, fosters healthy relationships and fulfills his responsibility to his family, friends and community. He reminded the listeners that children mirror our society.
During his Presentation, Kevin Liverpool put his 10 years of experience implementing social interventions and working with at-risk youth to good use as he discussed issues related to the effect of nature and nurture on boys. He noted that many social ills can be related to father passivity and the absence of a father figure in homes. “The stability of society depends on how men are socialized,” he observed. He noted that while discipline was important for children, a parent’s relationship with their offspring, the relationship with their spouse and the culture of the family can have a powerful influence on children’s development. These relationships can make discipline a successful process. Liverpool also emphasized the importance of understanding the unique ways boys and girls are defined. He also highlighted several of the initiatives his organization is implementing including assistance for fathers going through separations and a programme to help teenage girls recognize the warning signs of unhealthy relationships.
The evening’s rapt audience consisted of men and women; many of them were parents or teachers. Some worked closely with at-risk youth. Questions were raised about school violence, how to help boys process their emotions and how parents could get guidance on how to raise their children.
“As mothers and as female leaders, it is imperative that we recognize and embrace our role in the lives of our sons, our husbands, our brothers, our fathers,” explained President Agard-Simmons, underscoring the importance of having conversations on these topics. She added, “It is by encouraging our boys and men to embrace their roles as positive and equitable contributors that we can truly battle the storms of social and economic instability.”
As part of the regular feature of AFETT events and meetings, a segment was held to feature two female entrepreneurs. These were Wendy Lewis of Khalabash Productions and Regina King of King’s Specialty who each offered samples of ponche de creme sold by their companies. The Association also welcomed its newest member Krystal Marshall.
Thank you to our event collaborator: The Fatherhood Resource Center; and event sponsor: NIPDEC.
AFETT’s next event will be the historic launch of its youth arm at a cocktail reception on December 8th at the National Academy for the Performing Arts in Port-of-Spain.