The Status of Women's Committee of the Windward Island Teacher's Union hosted a two-day Women's Conference in Sonesta Great Bay Hotel with the Theme: " Women's Economic Empowerment in the Changing World of Work", on Thursday, February 23 and Friday, February 24, 2017.
After the tone was set for the Opening of the Conference with a warm welcome to all by the gentle voice of the moderator, Miss Sagan Gibson, the Sint Maarten Song was sung by the young male voice of Bradly Attyl.
The President of the W.I.T.U., Mrs. Claire Elshot-Aventurin, also extended a warm Welcome to the delegates of the Status of Women's Committees of the Caribbean Union of Teachers ( C.U.T.) from the various countries of Bermuda, Barbados, Bahamas, Guadeloupe/ French Saint Martin to our shores.
All the participants from the various local unions such as ABVO-SXM, SMCU, WICSU-PSU, WIHCUA and the various Women's Organizations such as Prominent Women, B3-Lifestyle, Anti-trafficking & Aglow International, Safe Haven, members of Sint Maarten Youth Parliament and the teachers and members of school management team and school boards and the presenters who were present at the Opening.
After thanking the Minister of Education Ms. Silveria Jacobs and Minister of Labour Mr. Emil Lee and head of the Department of Community Development, Family and Humanitarian Affairs, Ms. Aida Holaman and the board of W.I.T.U. for the financial support. Mrs. Elshot wished everyone a successful women's conference and assured the participants that their valuable contribution will be part of the discussions, where Education International will critically look at the link between the rights to education and the challenges faced with the implementation of the Millenium Development goals for women and girls. She then turned the mike over to the President of the W.I.T.U 's Status of Women's Committee.
In her Opening remarks, Ms. Silvy Ravenberg President of this committee gave an outline of the establishment and launching of the Status of Women's Committee in June 2013, the objective, purpose, mandate and goals of such.a committee
She also remarked that the idea was born when W.I.T.U. , provoking as a member organization of Education International, received an invitation to nominate a representative to be part of the 61st Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women March 13-15, 2017 UN Headquarters in New York.
She encouraged and motivated all to be actively involved in the discussions and to listen keenly to the presentation that would bet o provoke and very relevant to the our situation as women.
She remarked that a number of great women of Sint Maarten, who are no longer with us, have made their contributions and have let their voices be heard at similar events in the UN Headquarters and in Beijing 2000, setting the tone for a number of rights and privileges we enjoy today. It is therefore our task to continue their legacy that they have left behind.Thanking these great and brave ladies and looking forward for the contributions of everyone present to make the Women's Conference fruitful and a great success.
The program continued with the Secretary General of the Ministry of Education, Cultur, Youth and Sports Affairs, Ms. Jorien Wuite delivering greetings to the participants of the conference on behalf of our Minister of Education, who said that she was deeply honored as the sole female in the Council of Minister to be given the opportunity to address us a positive strong women and Ms. Angel Heyligar of Bermuda, Vice President of the Status of Women's Committee of C.U.T.
A Cultural Presentation was done in a song of Myriah ".Hero "by the talented Bradly Attyl.
The first-day presentations were marked with topics and presenters as follows;
1. "The Changing World of Work" This presentation was delivered by Mrs. Corinne Lejuez-van Putten, Vuce President of WITU and an English teacher at High Schools under the SVOBE School board.
2. " Women's Economic Empowerment - Stand Up for Somebody's Right Today ! "by Drs. Raymond Jesserun President of the Senior and Pensioners Association, member of the Anti-Poverty Platform and a seasoned educator also an advocate at various international platforms on human rights and development.
3. "Having a job is not enough.....too much work women do is undervalued" by Dr. Virginia Albert-Poyotte of Saint Lucia
Former General Secretary of the C.U.T. and former laison officer of E.I. in the Caribbean. She has been an advocate for funding of programs for training and implementation of capacity building programs especially for the smaller units within the C.U.T., networking to make sure that newly elected officers and the youth get special attention to be involved in their union's activity. Dr. Virginia Albert-Poyotte is a great activist and is no stranger to Sint Maarten since she was invited by our former Minister of Education, the Hon. Patricia Lourens-Philip to deliver the Key note address at the Celebration of World's Teachers Day in Port de Plassaince. She also represented E.I in the mission to Haiti after the devastating earthquake.
4. "Gender stereotypes in the media" by Miss Melissa Fleming an elementary teacher in Public Education.
Live and interactive questions and answers sessions followed each presentation before the closing of day 1.
The second day started at 9:15 am when the moderator called the gathering that consisted of a few new faces who had joined us, with her unique welcome. After reading the greetings from the General Secretary of the C.U.T, Mr. Don Howell, bringing well wishes to this Conference, she took time recapping the discussions of day 1.
The presentations followed:-
1. " Going back to the future for decent work and quality public services was presented by Miss Anenda Zaandam a teacher & entrepreneur and former Director at SHTA.
2. Sint Maarten Youth Parliament made the presentation on " Economic Empowerment of girls in the changing world of work" The challenges was brought by the dynamic Kamilah Gumbs.
3. " Challenges and achievements in the implementation of the MDG " were delivered by Rose Fleming of VSA, who as part of the Ministry of Labour and member of the workgroup on the MDG give a thought provoking presentation to the participants.
4. " Women's Empowerment and Its Link to Sustainable Development was energetically presented by Mrs. Genève Philip-Durham, Dean of University of St. Martin.(USM).
5. "Linking education to women' s empowerment" done by Mrs. Patricia Lourens - Philip was the last presentation to bring the participants from all cross sections into a very active and interactive discussions.
This event was not just another conference and several voices expressed appreciation and thanks to the WITU's Status of Women's Conference for extending the invitation to them and they would like to see this become an annual event. They are also eagerly awaiting to be part of the follow up and to receive the conclusions on the way forward with networking on several levels within the region and internationally.
At closing i would also like to thank Mr. Serge Artsen of Sonesta Beach Hotel and the staff of Sonests Great Bay Beach for their valuable contribution in making sure that the participants were well treated on both days to delicous well prepared Lunch and goodies during the coffee breaks. Mrs. Fabiana Vanterpool-Arnell , Ms. Aida Holaman department head of Commumity Development, Family and Humanitarian Affairs, Mrs. Elencia Baptiste-Boasman of Women's Desk & CDHA , The Management of Sundial school, all the presenters and participants because without them and their participation we could not have this great success. Ms. Diana Windevelde took charge of the transportation of all the delegates to and from the airport and the hotel to the Conference site. And last but no least the well articulated moderator, Ms. Sagan Gibson , who directed this two days program and questions and answers orderly.