The Child Protection Task Force appointed by the Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar in wake of the scourge of murders against children in Trinidad and Tobago continues to replicate the abominable sin of marginalizing a father's voice, worth, contribution and presence in treating with delicate family matters. The composition of the Child Protection Task Force is grossly imbalanced when gender is considered, consisting of thirteen (13) females and only four (4) males.
It represents if not a conscious an unconscious bias toward the role of fathers within the family structure. Clearly, no one could refute the eminent and vivid gender imbalance committed by the second highest office holder of the land, the Prime Minister. By all means, one needs to balance the appointment of these officers/committees not only by gender but by the relevant expertise to which they can bring to the table. However, if one argues that we as a society cannot find six (6) professional men of statue, exemplary in father hood and with the relevant expertise necessary to sit on this committee, then God help us all.
As a society we must shift away from the myopic view of gender inequality as referring only to the female gender incorporating issues of salary disparity, education and the presumed glass ceiling in management spheres etc. This shift must be a move to involve Fathers not only for numerical balance and superficial equality, but rather, for their thoughts, their role and by all means their valiant contributions which can add variety and value from a male perspective to the activity which they shall be engaged.
The gender composition of the Child Protection Task Force is disappointing and must be highlighted so as to discourage and prevent the re-occurrence. A father's voice within the context of the family or parentage, must be viewed as critical and vital to the overall process of finding solutions to the deviant and heinous acts towards our children that has engaged the collective consciousness of our society. Fathers must not be viewed or labeled as passive, apathetic, unresponsive "beast", but conceived as gentle, firm, professional and compassionate beings who are passionate about the well being of their children.
A clarion call is therefore made to the authorities to desist from the stereotypical views of the man/father, and understand the high importance of a Father within the structure of the family. Moreover, a call is also made to review the provisions, regulations, legislation and public sector processes which relates to fathers and their involvement with their children, not from the narrow minded child maintenance perspective but rather from a father inclusive parenting approach. Lets get it right, Fathers must have a voice, they must be included in the affairs (from the highest level to the lowest) of our children and issues that impact and relate to their protection, upbringing, and overall welfare.
Written by O.J.Noel