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Focus on Inclusion for 25th Anniversary of Honouring Women Month

Local News 28 Feb, 2024 Follow News

Hon. Sabrina Turner

Hon Katherine-Ebanks-Wilks

This March marks the 25th anniversary of Honouring Women Month (HWM) in the Cayman Islands.  The Family Resource Centre (FRC), one of the units under the Department of Counselling Services (DCS), has been a strong proponent of HWM and, for years, has led on the monthly celebrations that highlight women’s accomplishments while addressing gender-specific issues affecting them.

“This year’s theme, #InspireInclusion, invites us to inspire others to understand and value women’s inclusion as a proactive way to forge a better world,” explains Clinical Supervisor for the FRC, Charmaine Miller.   “All women, independently of race, class, nationality, gender identity, disability, or beliefs, deserve to have a voice and be included as a way to ensure that they belong, that they feel relevant and empowered, so that they can contribute to their families, communities and the country as a whole,” she adds.

The 2024 campaign is an invitation for individuals, communities, organisations and workplaces to assess their inclusion practices and how to proactively include women in areas such as recruitment, retention and development of female talent, support women and girls in leadership roles, involve women and girls in sustainable agriculture and food security, and help them make informed decisions about their health, among other things.

“While DCS’ agencies are known for their work in the area of mental health, the FRC also has a long and consistent history of education and empowerment in the areas of sexual health information and education,” Judy Seymour, Director of DCS begins. “As part of the global effort to help women and girls make more informed decisions about their health and their bodies, this year’s efforts will also include the delivery of comprehensive sexual education programmes that provide young people with accurate, age appropriate information about sexuality and sexual and reproductive health, a critical component of their health and wellness,” she adds.

The World Health Organisation noted earlier this year that there is sound evidence that unequal gender norms begin early in life, with harmful impacts on both males and females. It is estimated that 18%, or almost 1 in 5 girls worldwide, have experienced child sexual abuse. Research also shows, however, that education in small and large groups can contribute to challenging and changing unequal gender norms by teaching young people about gender relations, gender equality and inequality, and gender-based violence.  “Inspiring Inclusion also means creating the opportunities for awareness, education and discussion and that is exactly what our team is doing,” Ms. Seymour concludes.

“One of my favourite quotes goes: ’if they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair’,” states Hon. Sabrina Turner, Minister for Health & Wellness. “Many women, in Cayman and across the world, have paved the way for those of us who came after them by taking this approach, and I wouldn’t be standing where I am today had it not been for their courage, boldness and quite honestly creativity.  However, in 2024, it is no longer enough to expect that, as women, we continue to expend our energy forging the way.  No, our talents are best placed and our communities best served when we come from a place of recognition, of inclusion, so that all of our energy can be focused on the task at hand, not simply getting to the proverbial table,” she continues.  “To say that DCS’ work in this area, in creating the spaces and the tables, is important is an understatement. It is fundamental for the health and wealth of the nation, and I commend them for their commitment and consistency in this area these past decades.”

Another government unit proactively promoting equality and inclusion is the Gender Affairs Unit (GAU).  As a driver of social awareness for gender-based equality, the GAU has contributed its expertise to research, policy advice, and analysis of Government legislation and policies. Karlene Bramwell, Senior Policy Analyst for the GAU, said “By advocating for the inclusion of women we recognise the historic and systemic barriers that women have faced and continue to face, simply because of their gender. Actively implementing total inclusion requires dismantling entrenched biases, challenging gender norms, and creating policies and practices that promote gender equality at every level.  The events and activities planned for this year’s Honouring Women Month acknowledge the inherent worth and dignity of every woman, affirming their right to participate fully in all aspects of society without discrimination or prejudice.”

This year’s HWM calendar has been jam packed with numerous activities, as in previous years, and features some additional events in light of the anniversary celebration.

The first new item on the month-long agenda is the first-ever International Women’s Day Gala, which will be hosted at the Kimpton Seafire Resort on March 8th. The evening will feature the return of Keynote Speaker Desiree Phillips, Equality Consultant. Ms Phillips, who is no stranger to the Cayman Islands, will continue the conversation on equity and inclusion as it is vital for all to have a clear understanding of what inclusion looks like, and how it can be achieved, in order to move past obligations and intentions and achieve inclusive environments for all women. In addition to Ms. Phillips’ address, there will be a silent auction and musical entertainment. Tickets are available for purchase from the FRC for $150 per ticket. 

The second new item is made up of a series of three workshops being hosted by Ms. Phillips, all of which focus on inclusion.  The sessions, entitled “Setting the Stage for Equity”, “Reimagining Self-Care”, and “Working with the Tapestry of Identity and Experience”, will cover a broad range of topics from understanding the concepts of diversity/inclusion/equity, to exploring the roots of common self-care practices, to how identity and experience ‘show up’ in the way that persons in caring professions carry out their work.  All sessions are open to the public and available free of cost, though preregistration is required.

Also making a first appearance in this year’s schedule of events is the Women in Agriculture workshop and women-led farmer’s market. This event, which is hosted in partnership with the Gender Affairs Unit, the Ministry of Sustainability and Climate Resilience, Ministry of Agriculture  and the CIG Wellness Committee will highlight the often overlooked yet critical role that women can play in agriculture and farming in the Cayman Islands. From owning and managing their own farms to pioneering sustainable practices, women have the potential to feed communities and sustain livelihoods.

Minister for Sustainability and Climate Resilience, Hon. Katherine Ebanks-Wilks said, “Celebrating Honouring Women Month provides us with a profound opportunity to reflect on the invaluable contributions women have made throughout the history of our Islands and the role they continue to play today. Honouring their resilience, their achievements, and their unwavering commitment to progress in all spheres of life. However, our celebration should extend beyond mere recognition; it should underscore the urgent need for the full and meaningful inclusion of women in every aspect of society.” The Minister continues, “When women farmers are supported and empowered, they become agents of change, driving innovation, promoting biodiversity, and fostering community resilience in the face of environmental challenges and climate change. Moreover, investing in women in agriculture can yield significant social and economic benefits, including increased productivity, improved food security, and a reduction in unemployment.”

While the FRC is working on bringing information to the community, the Cayman Islands Government, via the Portfolio of the Civil Service (POCS) is leading by example in its role as an employer by providing a unique activity to mark the occasion internally. On Monday, 18 March 2024, POCS is inviting Civil Servants to attend one of the sessions hosted by Joy Baldrige, author and speaker, where she will be speaking about the incredible women, local and international, who have shaped our world. Entitled “What does it take to be a great woman leader?” this insightful session will teach participants about the 10 most vital traits of exceptional women leaders and how to build a positive and productive team. Participants will discover how to exert one’s power, set standards for success, and achieve impactful results. RSVPs are required to attend this special event, dedicated to honour and uplift the women of the Civil Service, as spaces are limited.

More information on the Honouring Women Month public events, workshop registration, and ticket sales for the upcoming gala are available through the FRC via  frc@gov.ky  or 949-0006.  The full list of events can also be found on www.frc.gov.ky .

Highlights from the Calendar

Dress for a Cause- March 1 | 9:15am | Government Administration Building (steps)

Put on your shirt, strike the #InspireInclusion pose, and become a part of the movement.  Open to all.  To purchase the t-shirt contact the FRC on frc@gov.ky  or 949-0006.

International Women’s Day Gala– March 8 | 6:30pm | Kimpton Seafire Resort

Tickets are available at KYD 150 per person.

International Women’s Day Gala features the return of Keynote Speaker Desiree Phillips, and aims to ignite action and propel attendees ready to #InspireInclusion within the spaces they occupy. Celebrate women, enjoy incredible food and live entertainment at this unforgettable event. To register, email IWD@gov.ky .

Setting the Stage for Equity Workshop- March 11| 1:30pm-3:30pm| The Loft

In this session, participants will gain a common understanding of the foundational concepts of diversity, inclusion, and equity while examining the concepts of oppression and privilege through an intersectional lens. Participants will discuss their own power and privilege as they pertain to various identities and social locations and consider how these elements shape experiences for themselves and others. For more information, email frc@gov.ky  or contact 949-0006.

Working with the Tapestry of Identity and Experience Workshop- March 12| 9:00am-11:30am| The Loft

This session will explore the ways in which identity and experience influence the individuals that participants work with in helping professions. Participants will examine the concept of intersectionality and how common approaches can conflict with the realities of the diverse populations that are being served. Participants will also have the opportunity to consider ways to improve the service user/service provider alliance and enhance service provision. For more information, email frc@gov.ky  or contact 949-0006.

Re-Imagining Self Care Workshop- March 13| 9:00am-11:30am| The Loft

In this session participants will explore the roots of common self care practices and how these practices may or may not improve well-being for certain individuals or groups. Participants will be introduced to the concept of Ubuntu and a more inclusive understanding of self-care that embraces various ways of knowing and being in order to equip individuals with self-care practices that may be more realistic and more effective in cultivating overall well-being. For more information, email frc@gov.ky  or contact 949-0006.

Colour Me Purple 5K Walk/Run – March 24 | 6:30 am | 7 Mile Beach

Colour Me Purple 5K Fun Walk/Run, like all other Honouring Women’s Month events acts as a fundraiser to support the young mothers accessing clinical preventative and intervention services at the FRC. For more information, email frc@gov.ky  or contact 949-0006.

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