(Castries, September 30, 2015) The empowerment of women has been long accepted as vital to the achievement of comprehensive development in the Caribbean. Gender equality and empowerment are key markers in the United Nations millennium and sustainable development goals. This is also a concern in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, transgender, queer and intersex (LGBTQI) movement that seeks to achieve recognition of the human rights of LGBTQI people.
Women still comprise only a small fraction of leadership positions in such organisations in the Caribbean, resulting in a lack of focus on issues specific to lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LBT) women. The movement comprises of 51 major organisations; nine led by LBT activists; and six run by and organized solely for LBT women. This lack of representation has given rise to the annual Caribbean Women and Sexuality Diversity Conference (CWSDC).
This year from October 5 to October 11, LBT activists from over 16 countries will converge in Port of Spain Trinidad, for the third annual CWSDC, under the theme “Actioning Women’s Leadership.”
Janice Stephen, Vice-President of the Board of Directors of United and Strong says, “The conference is focused on developing in women the will to demonstrate what’s possibly a critical trait in anyone who seeks to grab the reigns of leadership, because it’s not just about the talk but also the action.”
The annual workshop, conceptualised by United and Strong, aims to create opportunities for women’s empowerment, leadership and activism. Supporting the CWSDC formally established in 2013 in Curacao, this year’s event is co-organised by WOMANTRA and the Women’s Caucus of Trinidad and Tobago. The CWSDC was established to engage LBT women and activists to create opportunities through joint activities and platforms developed by the participants collectively in influencing the mainstream agenda of LBT activism.
“The CWSDC in its third year has not only increased the visibility of Caribbean LBT women but also fosters a more integral approach to addressing the issues facing LBT women,” adds Secretary to the Board of United and Strong, Jessica St. Rose. “I believe that the variety of subject areas these women will be trained upon will enable them to enhance their advocacy and leadership skills. This is one of the conferences that I look forward to the most not only because it’s the brainchild of United and Strong, but also because of the positive impact of networking with brilliant women with a common goal that adds more depth to the experience at the conference.”
Support will be provided to the development of such a common agenda for advocacy and action; pursuing opportunities to influence policy dialogues to generate support for addressing the issues of marginalization of LBT women in the Caribbean; the adoption of shared strategies; and building capacity for advocacy.