|Women against Violence: Breaking the Silence (UNIFEM, 1997, 116 p.)|
|Taking Action Against Violence: A Case Study of Trinidad and Tobago|
Given its long and extensive experience with issues of gender-based violence and the linkages it has with organizations in Trinidad and Tobago and in the wider Caribbean, the RCS is well placed to spearhead a regional coalition of organizations combating violence. But the Society seems not to be ready for such a role particularly in light of resource scarcity and the subsequent reduction in its activities.
With its success, the RSC has encountered new problems, especially concerning organization and financial self-sufficiency. As the organization grew, a shift from volunteers to paid staff resulted in a serious loss of enthusiasm among the general volunteer membership and it became difficult to retain their interest. The volunteer mode of operating had fostered strong team spirit, emotional gratification and bonds of trust, friendship and interdependence. All activities had been jointly undertaken and success depended on shared resourcefulness and co-operation, creating a shared sense of purpose and risk taking, of pooling of energies, ideas and hopes. The separation of roles and managerial efficiency required by the expanded range of activities, administration of projects and accountability for funds changed the relations among the volunteers.
Growth and expansion called for increased administrative and managerial competence in project implementation and use of funds. The Management Committee focused on developing a strategic plan and mission statement. Clear guidelines were drawn up to direct the operations of the Society, particularly roles and responsibilities of management, volunteers and staff. A Policy and Procedures Manual was also started. Members of the Society were exposed to further training in strategic planning, proposal writing, public speaking and computer literacy.
After RCS self-evaluation in early 1991, the role of the Management Committee was further defined in terms of policy formulation and procurement of funds with attendant supervisory and monitoring functions. During 1992 the Society began to experience problems meeting recurrent expenditure as funding became more and more project specific. In response the Management Committee sought to diversify its funding base, especially in light of UNIFEM's inability to continue extending its support. The government of Trinidad and Tobago began to contribute a monthly subvention in 1993 and new partnerships were initiated with the German government, the Canadian High Commission and the Netherlands.
Income generating projects were more difficult. One project provided counselling to the private sector on the impact of domestic violence on productivity, including absenteeism, sick leave, tardiness and so on, as well as such things as improving team spirit, employee attitude, creativity, interpersonal and inter-departmental functioning. Although welcomed by some sections of the private sector projected revenue failed to materialize. Many workers were uneasy at being identified as having "problems," obliging the RSC rethink its approach.
Other projects were designed to equip survivors with employable skills as well as generate revenue. An agro-processing project and a sewing shop both trained a select number of survivors but did not reach the large number of persons targeted even when special arrangements were made for child care. The projects both floundered when it came to marketing their products.
The Society also doubled its efforts at local fundraising through traditional jumble sales, cake sales, concerts, and curry-ques. Despite its best efforts to do much work with little money, its ingenuity in obtaining labour, materials and services, its ability to attract significant external funding, money has never been enough to respond to demands and to carry out needed activities. Staff had to be reduced, increasing workloads and depressing morale. Low salaries meant that trained employees moved on, taking with them valuable work experience. Increased reliance on volunteers has not been an entirely satisfactory alternative since many members either lack the necessary skills or cannot sustain their voluntary services for a variety of personal reasons. The Society has had to continuously train new counsellors to meet its needs. Financial stress has also prevented long-range planning.