The material posted here was provided to the Division for the Advancement of Women by the Government in response to the Secretary-General's Questionnaire on Implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action. It has been made available in electronic format from the form received. In cases where it was not possible to reproduce charts and tables supplied, these can be obtained by contacting the Division for the Advancement of Women directly.

Trinidad and Tobago


Questionnaire to governments on the implementation of The Beijing Platform For Action


Demographic features

Trinidad and Tobago is a twin island state situated at the southern most tip of the Caribbean Archipelago, between latitude 10 North of the Equator and Longitude 60 to 62 West. Trinidad is located 7 miles from Venezuela on the South American continent. The land area of the country is approximately 5,128 sq. km. The histories of both islands are quite different. Tobago experienced a series of colonial governance by the Spanish, British, French and Dutch powers between 1498 and 1888 whereas Trinidad was governed by the Spanish from 1498 to 1797 and then the British up to 1962 when independence was granted. Trinidad was administrated by Spanish and British governments for over four centuries, but a significant number of its landholders were French Royalists who fled the French Revolution. In 1898, Trinidad and Tobago became a unitary state, in 1962 the islands gained independence from Britain and in 1976 the country achieved Republican status.

Population size and composition

Trinidad and Tobago's estimated mid year population in 1990 was 1.2 million, an increase of 14% for the period of 1980 to 1990. According to the Central Statistical Office in Trinidad and Tobago, females account for approximately 50% of the population, but of the total labour force of 541,000 in 1997, males accounted for 62.1% and females 37.9 % .

Recent Economic Developments

Trinidad and Tobago's economy was projected to expand by approximately 5 percent in 1998, due mainly to the continued strong performance (6 percent) of the non-oil sector. Growth in the non-oil sector was being fuelled by increased activity in the manufacturing and services sub-sectors and the oil sector was expected to grow by 3.1 percent in 1998. The increase in economic activity has impacted favourably on employment, with 22,300 additional jobs created in the first half of the year and the unemployment rate falling to 14 percent for the first six months of 1998 - the lowest level in 14 years. The rate of inflation for the first six months of the year stood at 4.7 percent, a small increase of just under 1 percent over the same period the year before. (Source: Republic of Trinidad and Tobago Medium Term Policy Framework 1999-2001).

Analytical overview of trends in achieving gender equality and women's advancement

The Government's recognition that any National Policy on women must be situated within the country's total national development plan resulted in the development of a National Policy Statement on Women in February, 1988. The policy objectives of the document included Government's commitment to upholding equal opportunities for both men and women, equality of educational opportunities, supporting the efforts of NGO's, the efficient compilation of data on women and the provision of support services and health needs for women. In February 1988 the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago presented a National Policy Statement on Women.

The policy objectives also addressed placing women at the decision and policy making levels in all sectors, as well as the unemployment situation of women, and the encouragement of female entrepreneurs.

The Trinidad and Tobago Government prepared a National Report on the status of women in preparation of the Fourth World Conference on women in Beijing, China September 1995. The exercise provided an opportunity for a national review of progress made on the advancement of the status of women since the ratification of the U.N. Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in 1967 and the forward looking strategies agreed upon at the World Conference on Women in Nairobi in 1985. The report therefore formed a basis for the formulation of specific areas for action in policy and/or programmes. It provided a focus for change for the country's women in ways that are both practical and sustainable.

The major achievements include:

A) In 1994, the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago entered into a technical co-orporation agreement with the Inter-American Development Bank to strengthen the Institutional capacity of the then Women's Affairs Division. The agreement included :

Improvement of program planning, co-ordination and management Training in publication and design. Establishment of a Gender/Women in Development Information System Strengthening of outreach and co-ordination with NGOs, public and private sector, mass media and community groups. Training and sensitization in gender and development.

B) The Government of Trinidad and Tobago agreed to:

C) The Government’s Medium Term Policy Framework included a commitment to incorporate a gender perspective in development planning at the policy and program levels, focusing on activities related to the achievement of gender equity over the medium term.

D) The Government has recognized that Women’s Issues affect both women and men and has accepted the global shift in development approach from women in development to gender and development.

E) In keeping with the National Mandate, the Gender Affairs Division has continued to achieve the following:


Another aspect of the implementation programme of the Beijing Platform for Action is the focus on skill training for unemployed women in non-traditional areas.

Training programmes in the following areas were conducted:

1. Women in Business

2. Women in Construction

3. Leadership and Managerial Training for Community Leaders through the creation of a Cabinet approved Women's Leadership and Enhancement Institute in 1998.

Private organizations such as banks, and NGOs also offer skills training and technical training for both women and girls.

One of the principal strategic plans/activities of the Gender Affairs Division, is to conduct gender training programs for community groups, NGOs and other government agencies. Within the ambit of the Institutional Strengthening program, extensive gender training and sensitization programs were done targeting the private sector, senior government personnel including government ministers and the Judiciary. The final component of the Institutional Strengthening program, gender training and sensitization in development, yielded a gender training manual and a gender training video.

Since the advent of the Platform For Action, there has been a decisive move toward the inclusion of the issue of gender in government's agendas. The Gender Affairs Division contributes to policy formation by sitting on the following committees:

The National Youth Task Force The Education and Curriculum Development Task Force The Steering Committee of the Network of Rural Producers The National plan of action for children in difficult circumstances The Technical Advisory Committee on the Counting of Unremunerated Work The Technical and Advisory Committee on the Population and Housing Census in the Year 2000 The Ministry has collaborated with the Ministry of Planning and Development to incorporate a gender perspective in the seven year Medium Term Plan for Trinidad and Tobago. The Ministry of Planning is in the process of refining the document after a number of consultations with key stakeholders.

It should also be noted that the Ministry of Finance provides budgetary allocations to the GAD for its technical and administrative functions.

Since the Beijing Platform for Action all efforts are being made to mainstream gender. The Ministry has established an Inter-Ministerial Committee in 1998 as one of its strategies to move towards gender equity. The members of this committee were exposed to gender concepts and skills to incorporate issues of gender in policies, plans and programs. Members were sensitized to the critical importance of fully integrating gender sensitive approaches to every facet of life. A community based National Council for Women (NCW) was also established by Cabinet. In addition, the Gender Affairs Division has facilitated gender training for specific target groups such as the Coast Guard, the Community Police and staff of the Health Authority.

The Government of Trinidad and Tobago, in 1999 has agreed to the formation of a task force to create a National Domestic Violence Policy and develop a standardized system of data collection on Domestic Violence throughout Trinidad and Tobago. At present, data is collected from the Hotline 800-SAVE by the National Domestic Violence Unit (NDVU). This unit was established in 1997 in part to co-ordinate the activities of the NDV Hotline 800 SAVE which is a twenty- four (24) hour listening and referral service created in 1996.

Cabinet has approved the establishment of the Women’s Leadership and Enhancement Institute Project. The policies/objectives of this institute include promoting leadership and the empowerment of women, assisting women out of poverty on to productive and sustainable lifestyles and training women in personal development techniques.

In May 1996, a Bill for Counting the Unremunerated Work was passed in Parliament. This Bill required the Central Statistical Office to count the unpaid work undertaken by men and women and to calculate the monetary value of such work.

Constraints Encountered

The constraints encountered in the process of achieving gender equity and women’s advancement are:

Financial resources: The budgetary allocation of the Gender Affairs Division is inadequate to ideally implement and execute projects and programs. Human Resources: Extra technical and administrative staff are needed to ideally carry out the increased work load of the division. Limited information sharing: In terms of intra-agency information. Lack of disaggregated data: Data from most sectors are not disaggregated The absence of a fully operationalised Inter-Ministerial Committee: The current membership is positioned at varying levels of authority in their respective ministries. This impacts on their ability to influence policy. Ineffective ways of collaboration: There is a need to develop more effective ways of collaboration with NGOs intersectorally.

02 June 1999


Critical Areas of Concern Examples of successful policies and programmes and projects to implement the critical areas of concern of the Beijing Platform for Action (Indicate any targets and strategies set and related achievements) Examples of obstacles encountered/ lessons learned Commitment to further action/new initiatives
4.1"Collect data and compile statistics (…) relating to the prevalence of different forms of violence against women (…) and disseminate information (the) results widely" 4.1.1 "Sexual violence against individuals" Data on sexual violence against women from the Ministry of National Security for 1995, three hundred and nine (309) cases of sexual offences (rape, gang rape and sexual abuse) were reported. For 1996 two hundred and ninety-five (285) cases were reported. For 1997 five hundred and two (502) cases were reported. Additionally for 1996 twenty-five (25) cases of incest were reported and in 1997 there were forty-one (41) cases reported. (Source Ministry of National Security) 4.1.2 "Extent to which statistics exist on domestic violence" Data on victims of domestic violence is collected by various agencies - Probation Department, National Family Services, the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service and Juvenile Bureau, Families in Action, the Rape Crisis Society, Trinidad and Tobago Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the National domestic Violence Hotline - 800-SAVE.

The Probation Department recorded eight thousand two hundred and ninety-seven (8,297) applicants for protective orders in 1994.

A national Domestic Violence Hotline was established in 1996. Interviews forms were restructured in 1997 and data for 1998 were analysed and presented         Outreach programmes in communities by the Rape Crisis Society. Establishment of a National Domestic Violence Hotline in 1996 and a Domestic Violence Unit in 1997. Establishment of Community Policing Units in a variety of communities in Trinidad and Tobago.   The Piloting and Establishment of Drop-in-Counselling and Information Centres in Twenty-two (22) Communities by the Ministry of Culture and Gender Affairs Domestic Violence Unit Creation of a new Domestic Violence Bill. The Act of 1991 has been completely rewritten now by Parliament. The Ministry of Culture and Gender Affairs conducted a Policy Roundtable on Data Collection on Domestic Violence in February 1999. Governmental and Non-governmental organisations and UN agencies participated in the exercise. A national task force to centralise data has been established. UNDP has contracted a local consultant to provide a comprehensive report on the domestic violence situations. This report would provide information for the period 1993-1998, and will also examine best practices which can be used by other countries.  









Before 1998 data were not separated by sex.


Limited financial and human resources.











    Standardisation of Data Collection on Domestic Violence

    Continued institutional strengthening of community based support groups by Government and International Organisations

    Creation of a Caribbean Rapporteur to highlight perspectives on Domestic Violence supported by UNIFEM

    Creation of a Caribbean Taskforce/Committee to highlight a regional perspective of Domestic Violence

    To inform development of a central registry for the collection of data on Domestic Violence.

Critical Areas of Concern Examples of successful policies and programmes and projects to implement the critical areas of concern of the Beijing Platform for Action (Indicate any targets and strategies set and related achievements) Examples of obstacles encountered/ lessons learned Commitment to further action/new initiatives

    Gender specific data has been collected from the National Domestic Violence Hotline for the year 1998 in which a total of two thousand, six hundred and eleven (2,611) calls were received. Two thousand one hundred and ninety-three (2,193) calls were from women, while four hundred and eighteen (418) were from men


    "Deaths and non-fatal injuries due to domestic violence"

In 1996, sixteen (16) women died due to incidents related to Domestic Violence, in 1997 and 1998 respectively, twelve (12) and twenty-three (23) ) women died. (Source the Modus Operandi and Records Bureau of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service)

4.2 " Training of all officials in humanitarian and human rights law (…), (including) judicial, legal, medical social, educational, and police and immigration personnel."

    " Annual coverage of activities to provide training in human rights and humanitarian law to State officials"

a) Promoting an active and visible policy of mainstreaming a gender perspective in all policies and programmes related to violence against women. b) Adapting appropriate measures in the field of education to modify social and cultural patterns of conduct of men and women.

    Gender Training workshops conducted aimed at the following target groups:

    personnel of health sectors judicial representatives personnel of the Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard Senior Police officers

    Gender Training was conducted for several organisations where theatre in education was one of the main tools used.   The Ministry of Culture and Gender Affairs through its Domestic Violence Unit commissioned the Creative Arts Centre of the University of The West Indies to perform appropriate plays addressing issues of Domestic Violence. These plays were performed at several community centres throughout Trinidad and Tobago.











Active work in gender mainstreaming is to seriously addressed.

Critical Areas of Concern Examples of successful policies and programmes and projects to implement the critical areas of concern of the Beijing Platform for Action (Indicate any targets and strategies set and related achievements) Examples of obstacles encountered/ lessons learned Commitment to further action/new initiatives
c) Create and develop training programmes for key personnel. Domestic Violence training programmes: One hundred and two (102) police officers participated in training programmes between 1996-1998, along with staff of safe houses/shelters and crisis lines, volunteers, members of non-governmental agencies, staff of the Community Development Division and community leaders of various communities throughout the country.    
4.3 "Enact and/or reinforce penal, civil, labour and administrative sanctions in domestic legislation to punish and redress the wrongs done to women and girls who are subjected to any form of violence."

    "Legal sanctions for violence against women.’

In 1991 the government of Trinidad and Tobago enacted The Domestic Violence Act. The Act attempted to provide legal protection for the victims of domestic violence by empowering the Magistrates’ Court to grant protection orders, to provide the police with the powers to arrest and lay charges where there was a breach of the Court’s order or where a domestic violence offence was committed.   4.4 "Allocate adequate resources within the Government budget and mobilise community resources for activities related to the elimination of violence against women"

    "Spending per woman on the prevention of violence"


                This 1991 Act has been rewritten (in 1999) following extensive consultation. It now being debated in Parliament Mandatory counselling for victims and perpetrators is now available in the new legislation   Sexual Offences Bill (1999) has been laid in Parliament.     Twenty-three (23) Drop-in/Information centres were established at various community centres/complexes throughout the country. A Multi-disciplinary team comprising of a social worker, police officer, secretary/warden of the centre/complex and a Ministry official was responsible for the running of the centres. These centres offered members of the public the opportunity to access assistance for matters related to domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, and other types of family dispute within the communities.     Total cost of Domestic Violence Hotline, Domestic Violence Unit and Drop-In Centres as an indication of cost to Government  




  Lack of a Family Court.









        Lack of financial income resources.  

            Presentation of legislation on sexual harassment. Legal Aid for Domestic Violence victims.            


Critical Areas of Concern Examples of successful policies and programmes and projects to implement the critical areas of concern of the Beijing Platform for Action (Indicate any targets and strategies set and related achievements) Examples of obstacles encountered/ lessons learned Commitment to further action/new initiatives
  The Government of Trinidad and Tobago’s budget related to the elimination of violence against women for the year 1998 was approximately six hundred and seventy-nine thousand three hundred and seventy-seven dollars and nine cents ($679,377.09) Other Governmental, Non-governmental and Private agencies also do work with specific budgets.    


Financial and Institutional Measures

The budget of the Gender Affairs Division of the Ministry of Culture and Gender Affairs was $1,234,500 or .0089% of the nation's annual budget which stood at $13,721,290,576 for the 1998/1999 financial year.

This represents an increase from 1996 budget of $1,043,900. This budgetary allocation is enhanced by grants and financial support from local and international agencies for special projects for women and development.

Further to government's budgetary allocation to the Gender Affairs Division, special funding is provided to other non-governmental agencies working toward the economic advancement of women. These agencies, receive financial support from local corporate bodies, international agencies, as well as government subventions.

The government provides disbursements to financial institutions with special projects for female low-income earners and micro-entrepreneurs.


June 4, 1999