Women’s Voice and Leadership-Caribbean April Update

The arrival of this year’s International Women’s Day (IWD) has also brought a powerful moment to reflect on the tremendous strides our WVL-Caribbean grantee partners have made over the past 18 months. The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day was #BreakTheBias. It shed light on the fact that conscious and unconscious bias make it difficult for women to move ahead. Furthermore, it is clear that knowing bias exists isn’t enough: concrete action is needed to level the playing field. 

This is where our grantee partners shine. As many of you in the WVL-Caribbean community know, our grantee partners are no strangers to challenging the status quo. They continue to #BreaktheBias in their communities and advocate for a world that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive. From the work of the Indigenous women’s rights organization Wapichan’s Women’s Movement in Guyana, who are highlighting the unique challenges they face due to climate change and indiscriminate mining of sacred land, to the FarmHERS of Helen’s Daughters from St. Lucia, who are showcasing their work and accomplishments as successful rural women in a male dominated sector, these women continue to challenge stereotypes and take up space in their chosen fields. 

The WVL-Caribbean family remains steadfastly proud of the strides made by our grantee partners and firmly dedicated to supporting these organizations as they continue to #BreaktheBias across the region.

In solidarity, 

The WVL-Caribbean Family

Photo of a farmHER from Helen’s Daughters showcasing her work during the “In the Eyes of a FarmHER” showcase and exhibit.

Amplifying Caribbean Women’s Voices

Raise Your Voice Saint Lucia Celebrates Tabling of the Domestic Violence Bill Act

After ten years of advocacy, WVL-Caribbean grantee partner Raise Your Voice Saint Lucia celebrated the tabling of one of the Caribbean’s ‘most progressive’ domestic violence bills. According to the organization’s president, Catherine Sealys, key elements of the bill are its gender-neutral language and tone and the fact that it covers every aspect of domestic violence including  financial, physical, and emotional abuse.  Ms. Sealys also noted that St. Lucia’s current administration and society is more progressive than ever before and therefore opposition to the bill is not anticipated. All of us celebrate and commend the hard work and perseverance of Raise Your Voice St. Lucia and its partners on the ground as they continue to advocate for and protect the rights of girls, women, and the LGBTQ community. Read more about this momentous occasion here.

Helen’s Daughters – In the Eyes of a FarmHER

On February 25th 2022, WVL-Caribbean grantee partner Helen’s Daughters hosted a visit by the French Embassy to the OECS and Barbados and Alliance Francaise St. Lucia to experience “In the Eyes of a FarmHer”.  According to Ms. Keithlin Caroo, founder of Helen’s Daughters, “In the Eyes of a FarmHer” was conceptualized to showcase female farmers in a way that was never done before. Invited guests had the opportunity to learn more about the perspectives and experiences of women in agriculture. During their visit, guests were treated to a spoken word performance, a farm visit, a sample market, and an authentic St. Lucian meal, with every single aspect coming directly from the hands of a FarmHer. Learn more here.

Photo courtesy of Helen’s Daughters

Integrated Health Outreach’s Beekeeping Trainer Project: Empowering Women Economically Through Climate-Smart Sustainable Livelihoods 

The Beekeeping Trainer Project, launched by Antigua and Barbuda WVL-Caribbean grantee gartner Integrated Health Outreach, promotes sustainable environmental practices through climate-smart agriculture, enabling women to become beekeepers and producers of honey and its byproducts. Engaging 60 women who were either unemployed or under-employed, the project promotes sustainable environmental practices, sustainable management of natural resources, and climate change adaptation. It also provides communities with essential tools to fight against climate change, poverty, and food insecurity. Thirty women have graduated as beekeepers after one year of technical and practical training. The graduates will  receive two years of mentorship from experienced beekeepers following the formal training, with 30 more women currently engaged in the training process.

Photo from the graduate ceremony for the first 30 women trained as beekeepers.

Promoting Empowerment Through Awareness for Les/Bi Women (PETAL) – International Women’s Day 

In recognition of International Women’s Day,  Belizean WVL-Caribbean grantee partner PETAL, in partnership with the country’s Ministry of Human Development, Families, and Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, held its Annual Women’s Forum at the Belize Biltmore Plaza. The focus of this year’s forum was “MIND, BODY & SOUL: Engaging Men and Boys in our families”. The conversation was organized around three panels, with a focus on intersectional needs, communication, and the existing and non-existing support system within the community.

Caribbean Women in Leadership (CIWiL) – IWD 2022 Presentation to the OAS Permanent Council

Judith Wedderburn, a WVL-Caribbean Advisor and CIWiL  regional board member, spoke at the Special Session of the OAS Permanent Council in honour of International Women’s Day 2022. During her presentation, Ms. Wedderburn outlined current best practices for advancing gender equality and preventing sexual and gender based violence in the Americas with a focus on the Caribbean region and, more specifically, work done in CARICOM. Ms. Wedderburn highlighted that the lived experiences of women and their families show that the Covid-19 pandemic and its related health, economic, and social crises have precipitated new challenges while exacerbating existing ones. However, Ms. Wedderburn noted that progress has been made in the region since many Caribbean countries have gender equality policies or plans, and are engaged in aligning gender equality plans with the gender equality-related Sustainable Development Goals. Learn more about the progress being made in the Caribbean here and here.

Photo of CIWIL Regional Board Member Judith Wedderburn presenting at the OAS Special Session in honour of IWD 2022.

WVL – Caribbean Capacity Building Opportunities – Feminist Leadership Series features Peggy Antrobus

From February 3–March 3, 2022, WVL-Caribbean grantee partners participated in a four-week workshop series facilitated by feminist activist, author, and scholar Peggy Antrobus. The objectives of the series were to share the experiences of WVL-Caribbean grantee partners’ work and activism on social, economic, and environmental justice in the Caribbean;  discuss the relevance of feminism to work done in the Caribbean; provide a platform for networking and cross-movement building among the WVL-Caribbean grantee partners; and identify approaches that build solidarity among WVL-Caribbean grantee partners across differing contexts and issues. Discussions were rich and insightful. Thank you to all the grantee partners who participated in the series and made it such a success! 

Over the course of the year, WVL-Caribbean grantee partners will be supported through additional opportunities to build their political and technical capacity. The WVL-Caribbean team looks forward to hosting one-on-one support calls, aligning resources through its networks, and creating spaces for grantee partners to centre self-care as they continue to make waves throughout the region. Watch this space for more updates! 

Screenshot from Session 2 of the Feminist Leadership Workshop Series ft. Peggy Antrobus

Equality Fund’s Virtual Event: Climate Finance for Feminist Activism

On March 11, 2022, two WVL-Caribbean grantee partners, Wapicchan Women’s Movement and Integrated Health Outreach (IHO), participated in a powerful panel discussion on the topic of Climate Finance for Feminist Activism. Immaculata Casimero from Wapichan’s Women Movement and Nicola Bird from IHO shared their organization’s strategies to mitigate the effects of climate change as well as advocate for climate justice. All panellists emphasised the importance of including women-led organizations and feminist movevements in any and all climate finance strategies if they are to be sustainable and effective. Thank you to Immaculata and Nicola for sharing their story and representing the WVL-Caribbean project so magnificently. Watch the recording of our grantee partners live in action here!

Regional News

A new court ruling in Suriname offers every citizen the possibility to engage in name change. Autonomy and trans joy is centered in this tremendous win for trans rights, and it spotlights how trans people across the region continue to chart the course for their liberation and freedom. Paris Yvanna Simson played a pivotal role in this breakthrough as she set the precedent in the Court of Justice ruling around gender recognition which recognizes the agency of trans folks in changing their name and gender on their legal documents. This jurisprudence provides an avenue for gender identity autonomy in the update of gender markers and legal documents in Suriname. Read more about this groundbreaking decision here.

Global Affairs Canada (GAC)

Visit to Jamaica

On March 10, 2022, the Global Affairs Canada (GAC) team visited Jamaica and had an opportunity to meet with WVL-Caribbean grantee partners WE Change and CariFLAGS. Nicolette Bryan, Executive Director of WE-Change Jamaica and Dane Lewis, Regional Program Manager of Caribbean Forum for Liberation & Acceptance of Genders & Sexualities (CariFLAGS) and the GAC team discussed the support provided by the WVL-Caribbean program. Ms. Byron noted that due to support from WVL-Caribbean, the organization has been able to respond to their community in ways that had been impossible before. The support from the WVL-Caribbean project has allowed WE-Change Jamaica to engage in more community based efforts and research, which in turn allows them to better serve their community.

From left to right, Sharon Peake, Executive Director, Global Affairs Canada’s (GAC) Caribbean Regional Development Program (CRDP); Nicolette Bryan, Executive Director WE-Change; Dane Lewis, Regional Program Manager, CariFLAGS; Christian DaSilva, Head of Development Cooperation, Jamaica/GAC CRDP

Visit to St. Lucia

On March 11th 2022, the GAC team traveled to beautiful St. Lucia and met with three of our St. Lucian-based grantee partners, Helen’s Daughters, Girls of a Feather and Raise Your Voice St. Lucia. During the visit, the grantee partners shared the many ways they are advancing gender equality and human rights. After speaking with the grantee partners, Jennifer Heyes from GAC noted that “the strongest benefits of the WVL-Caribbean program is that it is flexible, sustainable, and multi-year. This support allows organizations to worry less about day to day funding and focus more on the work that matters the most as they advance their agendas”.

From left to right, Keithlin Caroo of Helen’s Daughters, Cathrine Sealys of Raise Your Voice SLU, GAC Head of Cooperation, Jennifer Heys, GAC First Secretary Ashley Crossley and Chelsea Foster of Girls of a Feather.

Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (MEL) Magic!

COVID-19 has had a profound impact on all grantee partners, particularly on program implementation, stakeholder engagement and advocacy, and service delivery. However, they adapted  to the ever-changing situation by using online platforms or hybrid models for virtual and in-person workshops; as well as increasing their social media presence as part of their advocacy, networking, and communication strategies. Through resilience and determination, grantee partners were able to extend their impact and advance change throughout the communities they serve in the region.

Approximately 89 percent of WVL-Caribbean grantee partners reported  changes in awareness, agency, and behaviour as a result of their programs and interventions, which enabled more women, girls, and trans people to claim their rights at an individual or collective level. In addition, 63 percent of grantee partners were able to advance changes in access and resources so that more women, girls, and trans people’s well-being and power are increased through access to high quality services, resources, and participation in decision-making spaces.

As expected, changes at the systemic level are harder to achieve in the short-term. However, a few grantees have realized changes in laws and policies (6 percent); social norms and practices (6 percent); and in movement building (13 percent). Raise Your Voice St. Lucia advanced legislation as a result of their decade-long advocacy efforts which led to the tabling of the Domestic Violence Bill. Helen’s Daughters lobbied the Ministry of Agriculture in St. Lucia to officially endorse their training programme, and this resulted in changes in practices that benefit rural women farmers. 

Despite this progress, grantee partners have been vocal about the need for long-term funding. They have highlighted the value of flexible, core funding in ensuring that organizations were able to remain operational during this period. For 22 percent of the cohort, the WVL-Caribbean project is their sole funding source. The majority  (61 percent) had support from only one or two donors aside from the WVL project. This emphasizes how under-resourced WROs and LBTIQ organizations are in the Caribbean, and that any trajectory towards sustainability requires the recognition that change is often non-linear and needs a longer-term commitment and resourcing. 
It is these grantee partner priorities that are at the forefront for us. We have been busy planning activities for Year 4, including the  Caribbean CommsLabs, which we are very excited to launch soon!

Opportunities and Events

Inter American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR)  Fellowship!

Fellowship duration: 12 months (tentative May 2022 start)

Monthly stipend: US$ 3200

IACHR invites young professional lawyers from the States of Antigua and Barbauda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago with an interest in human rights to apply for the Fellowship for Human Rights in the Caribbean.  Learn more about this opportunity here!

FRIDA’s 8th Call for Applications is Open!

Deadline : April 19th, 2022

FRIDA invites applications from young feminist groups from all majority countries to apply to their grant cycle. Groups should be led by young women, girls, trans and/or intersex youth, who are aged 30 or less. At least 70 percent of the organization’s membership needs to be women, girls, trans, and/or intersex youth aged 30 or less. Organizations working on improving the lives of young women, girls, trans, and/or intersex youth at local, national, regional, or international levels, with a strong belief in inclusive organizing, collective action, and feminist movement building are welcomed and encouraged to apply to join the FRIDA community! Learn more here

The Black Feminist Fund is Looking for You!

Are you a Black feminist activist who wants to give time to contribute to resourcing Black feminist movements globally? Then nominate yourself to join our Grant Review Committee! No previous experience in philanthropy is needed. Click here to learn more about this fantastic opportunity! 
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