How can you champion women’s rights?
Canada in Barbados
April 20, 2018
Building on the success of their 2017 video competition, the High Commission of Canada to Barbados gave three young leaders the chance to “Be High Commissioner for a Day” on International Women’s Day
“It is 2018 and gender inequality needs to stop now, and the beginning to the end starts now.” – Tapinawashe Haukozi, winner of “Be a High Commissioner for the Day.”
Spotlight local champions
Tapinawashe Haukozi addresses High Commission staff at a Town Hall on gender equality.
Building on the success of their 2017 video competition, the High Commission of Canada to Barbados gave three young leaders the chance to “Be High Commissioner for a Day” on International Women’s Day. Each participant was asked to submit a 60 to 90 second video answering the question: “How can YOU champion Women’s Rights in the Caribbean?”
Eighteen year old Grenadian Tapinawashe Haukozi won the competition, while 18 year old Rol J Williams and 16 year old Sierra Hamblin were named runners up and tasked with the duties of Deputy High Commissioners for the day.
In her video submission, Haukozi called for investment in school programs that teach young men the value of women in society.
She intends to make the challenges women face, such as sexual harassment and domestic violence, more visible.
Haukozi also proposes the organization of marches and rallies to demand an end to femicide, domestic abuse and sexual violence.
Rol–J Williams, Runner Up, addresses High Commission staff at the Town Hall.
“Being involved in STEM brings about independence of thought and independence of being which I consider to be two of the hallmarks of women’s rights.” – Rol‑J Williams, Runner Up, “Be a High Commissioner for the Day.”
Rol-J Williams, who hails from St. Kitts and Nevis, wants to level the playing field between men and women.
Williams, who studies in the male-dominated field of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), wants to create a regional organization for youth interested in STEM, especially young women.
Sierra Hamblin, Runner Up
“For me to make a difference, I have to start small and create a ripple effect.” – Sierra Hamblin, Runner Up, “Be a High Commissioner for the Day.”
Sierra Hamblin has long admired influential gender rights activists like Ronelle King, the creator of the social movement #LifeinLeggings, who champions women’s rights in the Caribbean. Hamblin knows she needs to start small and create a ripple effect.
A product of her generation, Hamblin wants to use social media to spread her message through online forums and live streams on social media channels like Instagram, YouTube and Facebook.
Hamblin is passionate about creating an environment where women and girls can discover their unique skills and talents. She founded a multicultural club at her school where 90% of the board members are female. She hopes to expand this program in schools throughout Barbados, and eventually across the Caribbean.
The winners were joined by members of Gender Champions and the Barbados Youth Parliamentarians.
On International Women’s Day 2018, the three winners spent a full day shadowing High Commissioner, Marie Legault. Together, they attended the Women in the World Symposium, which focused on women in business.
The winners also met with high-level politicians, participated in a Town Hall discussion with High Commission staff, and convened with a youth-led group known as Gender Champions.
Gender Champions have a successful partnership with the High Commission of Canada to advocate for gender equality and to eliminate gender-based violence in Barbados and the six countries of the eastern Caribbean. The group was also joined by the Barbados Youth Parliamentarians.
A formal dinner concluded the day’s activities, where Haukozi, Williams and Hamblin had the opportunity to connect with influential stakeholders like Peter Wickham, a leading political consultant, and Andrew Pilgrim, a prominent human rights lawyer. Ronelle King, creator of the #LifeinLeggings campaign against street harassment and sexual violence, was also present.
Working together, these young leaders will continue to combat gender-based violence and bring awareness to issues surrounding gender equality.
The High Commissioner and competition winners with influential community leaders.
Building on commitment
Rose-Mary Reynolds (left) and Christopher Brathwaite (right), 2017 winners.
This year’s initiative builds on previous work of the High Commission to spotlight young local champions for gender equality.
Rose-Mary Reynolds, a law student from Antigua and Barbuda, and Christopher Brathwaite, a passionate teen, both participated in the Commission’s first competition in 2017.
Reynolds, like Haukozi, acknowledged there is work to do in the region on domestic violence, sexual harassment in the workplace as well as the under-representation of women in leadership roles.
Both advocates continue to champion women’s rights in their communities.
Promoting change in the Caribbean
Canada envisions a world where women and girls are valued and empowered, have control over their own lives, fully participate as decision-makers in their homes and societies, and contribute to and benefit from development and prosperity.
The High Commission of Canada in Bridgetown continues to shine a spotlight on the youth creating positive change in their communities, and remains committed to advancing gender equality.
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