International Women’s Forum (IWF) Barbados has endorsed UN Women’s theme for International Women’s Day, Gender Equality Today for a Sustainable Tomorrow, with president Donna Every saying it aligns perfectly with the mission of IWF Global and that of the local Forum, which is “advancing women’s leadership and championing equality worldwide”.
Every noted that the three focus areas embarked on by the local Forum, since its inception in 2018 – Women on Boards, Women and Financial Independence, and Women in STEM – all have the purpose of propelling women to strive for gender equality in order to create a sustainable future for all.
To that end, the Barbados Forum has successfully carried out several initiatives which include: the launching of a series of vlogs to encourage women to pursue careers in STEM (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCcuYVw1_Ys8yUEIpjv0PG8g), publishing the results of the first Gender Diversity Index (GDI) survey of the boards of Barbadian companies, and a successful mentoring programme for young ladies in Children’s Homes and workshops to help them transition into the job market.
The Women on Boards group was also instrumental in commissioning similar surveys in Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica in order to compare the GDI in those countries with Barbados’, which came in at 29 per cent. The results of those surveys are soon to be released.
Founding President, Brenda Pope, was instrumental in Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley being invited to be one of the featured speakers at IWF’s first international virtual conference, where she made a tremendous impact on the attendees.
Pope has also recently been appointed to the global IWF Board where she intends to ensure that the voice of Barbados and the Caribbean is heard.
Last year, the Barbados Forum participated in several initiatives both locally and regionally. For IWD 2021, the Forum, with the help of the business community, made a donation to the ladies of the Best-Dos Santos Laboratory in recognition of their dedication throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Later in the year, the Barbados Forum partnered with the Forums of Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, the Bahamas and Bermuda to host a virtual Cocktail Café with Forums from the West Coast of the US and Canada in which cross-cutting issues pertinent to women across the globe were discussed and best practices shared.
Continuing in that vein, the Caribbean and Bermudan Forums will host a virtual event on March 16 around the 2022 IWD theme to provide thought leadership on the way forward. The featured speaker of the event will be Dr Carla Barnett, the first woman to be appointed Secretary-General of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). Her remarks will be followed by a discussion with a panel of distinguished women from across the Caribbean,
namely Ms. Marion Berthel (Bahamas), Ms. Margot Greene QC (Barbados), Dr Marcia Forbes (Jamaica), and Professor Rose Marie Belle-Antoine (Trinidad & Tobago).
In May 2022 in Santiago, Chile, IWF Global will convene its first in-person conference since 2020. This Cornerstone Conference will bring together members from across the globe to explore issues of importance to them as women who are global leaders and decision-makers. The global conferences are instrumental in sharing successful ideas and highlighting initiatives of diverse sister Forums to assist members to have a greater impact in their local and national context.
IWF is a membership organization comprised of more than 7,500 diverse and accomplished women from 33 nations on six continents. Members include executives, government leaders from the local to sovereign level, international non-profit leaders, and luminaries from the academy, arts, and sciences. Its members are trailblazers, innovators, and pioneers united to advance women’s leadership globally and locally.
This article appears in the 2022 edition of our International Women’s Day feature. Read the full publication here.