The Caribbean Democrat Union (CDU), in partnership with the Conservatives Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD) Programme, the New Democratic Party (NDP) Women’s Arm, the LeadHership Institute, and the UWI Open Campus Women and Development Unit (WAND) successfully completed a 10-week LeadHership Training Programme in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Twenty-eight young women aged 18-30 from various communities across St. Vincent and the Grenadines participated in the programme which consisted of online training courses via Zoom; a special mentorship session with current and former NDP female parliamentarians held on Feb. 18; a Q&A session with two elected female MPs, Tracy Panton (Belize) and Emmalin Pierre (Grenada); and two days of face-to-face training last Thursday and Friday, followed by a graduation ceremony where participants were presented with their certificates.
Regional Coordinator for the Conservatives WFD Programme in the Caribbean, Nick Francis, thanked the participants for making the commitment to attend the online courses and congratulated them on their high level of engagement.
He also noted the importance of working together to ensure that women have an equal opportunity to lead and serve their communities in the political sphere.
Laura Saunders, head of the International Department, Conservatives WFD Programme, reiterated the need to empower more women to participate in politics and decision making and hopes that by providing the funding for these initiatives, democracies across the region will become more inclusive and responsive.
Facilitators of the LeadHership Programme included Taitu Heron, head of UWI Open Campus, Women and Development Unit (WAND), Roshanna Trim, Melisa Belle and Jamie Lee Richards of The LeadHership Institute.
“Enhancing leadership skills is critical for young women’s personal development, especially to bridge the political ambition gap. It is important for young women to see possibilities and imagine a different political landscape in St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” Heron said.
“Programmes such as The Leadhership Institute particularly ones that work directly with political parties are crucial to ensuring that women who are already involved are equipped to navigate not only the political system but also to address systemic challenges faced by women both in political parties and nationally,” Trim said.
Speaking at the graduation ceremony, Ronnia Durham-Balcombe, president of the NDP Women’s Arm, expressed her gratitude to the Conservatives WFD Programme, the CDU and The LeadHership Institute “for providing this important opportunity to the young female participants and looks forward to working closely with these organizations to provide further capacity building initiatives,” a press release said.
President of the NDP, Godwin Friday, in his remarks at the graduation ceremony reiterated the party’s commitment to increasing women’s political participation and believes that women in the party will continue to make an important contribution to national development.
Friday congratulated the young female participants and the entire organising team for this wonderful initiative.
In her impact statement on behalf of the graduating class, Vakeesha John, who is also president of the NDP’s Young Democrats, said the training programme allowed participants to become more confident and to celebrate their own uniqueness.
John also noted that the opportunity to engage with female parliamentarians from St. Vincent and the Grenadines and the region was indeed an exercise in female empowerment.
One participant summarized the experience as “helping women to see that they have power within and embracing that power”.