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First Citizens Takes Aim At Gender Based Issues


Kieran Andrew Khan

March 11, 2021

Takes Aim At Gender Based Issues

With an established women’s conference and a credit card aimed at raising awareness and funds towards reducing violence against women, First Citizens turned its attention to the 13-18 year old, female demographic in 2017. Under the direction of Karen Darbasie, Group CEO, this innovative financial institution created the Girls First initiative to reach this younger female audience. This was done through a series of Girls’ First Festivals, with the inaugural held in Tobago in that year.

With gender-based violence a continued cause for concern nationally, First Citizens Bank aimed to take the conversation nationwide, eventually hosting Girls’ First Festivals across the country between 2017 and 2018. These events included fun and engaging plenary sessions, workshops and presentations including self-defence, health and wellness, peer pressure, fashion and image, sex education and of course financial literacy, among others. Well-known local female personalities also shared their stories with the young audience in a bid to guide and motivate the all-female attendees. With significant feedback over the two-year period, the Group then set about to create Girls First Ambassadors to spread the vision and ethos of the movement, year-round.

According to a representative of the Group, “When you add up all the ambassadors, you would have a pool of young women that can share this knowledge with their friends and family members. There is nothing like this happening consistently and given that one of the pillars at First Citizens is the advancement of women – what better way to complement our Women First initiative? With any major initiative that we embark on or engage in, the question for us is ‘Did we move the needle?’ or ‘Did we make an impact?’ and that’s what we aim to do with Girls First and Women First.” The latter programme’s current theme is Changing the Narrative and coincides with the relaunch of their Purple Card. That card allows holders to make small but meaningful monthly payments from TT$25 to $100 to contribute to help reduce and end domestic violence against women and children. The card is the only one of its kind locally, and all funds go toward NGOs that champion ending violence against women.