By Christopher Tobutt
More than 100 girls from kindergarten all the way up through to the end of high school age filled Kings Church SDA in George Town on Friday 9 October to find out why it is important to speak up and make a difference. It was a special, interactive meeting with lots of presenters telling the girls all about speaking out, self-esteem, and never giving up. Celebrating International Day of the Girl (October 11) with the theme ‘My Voice: Our Equal Future,’ the event It was put on by Real Women International Cayman Islands in collaboration with The Ashley Shillingford Foundation for Positive Living and Cayman Academy.
Cayman Academy guidance counselor Darisa applewhaite said, “This event is all about empowering girls to speak up to use their voice, to live with confidence to know that she has a voice and she can speak on her behalf, and advocate for herself, and that she is equal in the world. We are not leaving out the men or the boys but we are working together to have an equal future for everybody. a lot of times girls don’t have the confidence to speak on their own behalf, a lot of times women are taught to be quiet and humble and genteel and sit and do as you’re told kind of thing but girls need to know that they can do things, they do have a voice,”
Primary school guidance counselor Nichola Broomfield-Williams said, “It is amazing, it is empowering and I am happy to see that the girls are realizing that they have women in their corner, and that if they are empowered we will have less bullying, girls against girls, and we will see a better community”
Angeline Shillingford of the Ashley Shillingford Foundation for Positive Living was busy at the front of the church, facilitating a workshop, by getting the girls to group up in pairs she asked them to tell the other what made them afraid, what made them angry, what made them happy, and what made them proud. “This is part of the empowerment and self-esteem that we are trying to build up in them, and also it ties in with the anti-bullying theme that is linked to October,” she explained.
Her Daughter, Ten year old Renee said, “What makes me afraid is I love to swim, but when I am in the water alone and I turn to the right, I think there is a shark on my left, and when I turn that way, I think there is a shark behind me, so I need to stop watching shark movies. What makes me happy is when I have done something good to someone else, and they’re happy and they smile.”
15-year old Colindra-Rodericka McGarvey-Sterling, Deputy Head Girl, said, “What I have realized is that it is very important for us to empower our girls and empower our men and that really and truly we are able to let our voices out, because once we speak up, not just for ourselves but for all girls, we will then have equal future. I think that the affirmations we have been learning are important too, reminding ourselves that we are beautiful, we are gorgeous, we are smart we are intelligent, and once we start saying that other people will see us differently as girls and as women all together we can be powerful.
Head Girl Shania Amador, 16, said, “It’s very important to remind our girls of who they are of their importance and their worth, that they are beautiful smart, intelligent and worth so much and that their voices need to be heard and that they shouldn’t be scared to say what they want to say.”