"Being able to pull it off and have over 50 persons in the room was a new high for the conference."
All participants have hailed the 3rd Caribbean Women and Sexual Diversity Conference 2015, hosted by United and Strong Saint Lucia/CariFLAGS Eastern Caribben Hub and Womantra ,with support from the Women's Caucus of Trinidad and Tobago, as a success.
The conference, held at the Kapok Hotel in Port of Spain, Trinidad, from October 5 to 11, 2015, saw over 50 lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LBT) persons, as well as straight allies, from the Caribbean and Latin America, from a variety of feminist, LBT and women's organizations in attendance.
Members of St. Maarten/St. Martin Alliance For Equality (SAFE) on St. Maarten/St. Martin were among those participating and feel, “proud that they were able to attend a regional lbt women’s event of this magnitude. So much was shared and so much was learned. We definitely look forward to sending a delegation again next year and we have to thank the organizers, Body, Mind & Spirit of Saba and COC Netherlands for making our trip possible. We will definitely put the knowledge we acquired to good use.”
Kenita Placide, Executive Director of United and Strong, said it was interesting to see the politics and diversity in action between the groups. "Being able to pull it off and have over 50 persons in the room was a new high for the conference. We were able to also involve persons from Latin America with translation and their involvement brought a wealth of knowledge that was not present in the English-speaking Caribbean. The challenge going forward is how do we continue to improve, including ensuring the agenda reflects the needs of the people attending."
The participants attended several facilitated seminars on a variety of subjects, including community grassroots organizing, negative stereotypes and violence, fundraising, both locally and internationally, media and advocacy, creative activism, self-care, analysis of some of the international law relating to women, security of women's human rights defenders and LBT women's movement building through feminism.
Each year United & Strong partners with an organization from one of the participating territories based on a voting system. The idea behind this is to increase the capacity of organizations throughout the region and build solidarity through sharing resources and knowledge.
WOMANTRA Founder and Co Director Stephanie Leitch said that,
"co-ordinating a conference for some 50 people was definitely a challenge but at the end of the day you are not planning a one-time event but building a movement. We have to be responsible for the nature and direction of our movement/s toward equality and justice and I am particularly invested in how feminist lessons can be applied to LBT activism and how we are offering support to each other across difference.”
The conference was also an opportunity to gather factual data on the issues affecting LBT women and this was facilitated by the University of the West Indies through the Institute of Gender and Development Studies (IGDS), Cavehill. IGDS Cave Hill researcher, Shari Innis Grant, said "what both last year's and this year's conference provided was the opportunity to fill a gap of documentation of LBT persons' experience throughout the Caribbean.
There is a lack of data across various areas in the Caribbean, we rely on anecdotal evidence but we're now getting into a pattern of really firm, consistent, dependable documentation. I think having spaces like these is essential to collect further documentation and be able to put specific narratives to the lone statistics we have and get to see what's causing these issues."
The conference made a decision to host the 4th Caribbean Caribbean Women and Sexual Diversity Conference in St. Croix with the support of Liberty Place and Leitch adds, “I was honoured to have the opportunity to co-host the CWSDC this year and look forward to passing the torch to Liberty Place and my new comrades there, in continuation of a Cari-vision that dares not only to dream but to pursue the freedom and liberty of all women."
United & Strong Still the only LGBTQI representative organisation on Saint Lucia, U&S is celebrating 15 years of ex: istence with intensified connection with the LGBTQI community in Saint Lucia under the theme “Year of the Community: Education, Acceptance, Love”. This is driven by a five-member board newly appointed by the community in April 2014. The current board consists of two males and three females. Known for developing a regional structure to its advocacy in the past five years, U&S is the Eastern Caribbean Hub of the Caribbean Forum for Liberation and Acceptance of Genders and Sexualities (CariFLAGS) and the Women’s Secretariat of ILGA.
WOMANTRA is a youth-led, feminist non-profit organisation dedicated to gender justice activism, feminist scholarship and social programmes. WOMANTRA is Caribbean-based and originated as a dynamic and diasporic online community with a shared feminist discourse of social justice, sex and gendered issues.
St. Maarten/St. Martin Alliance For Equality is a foundation created in order that LGBT people and their allies can engage in meaning conversation about the state of affairs of the community/communities on St. Maarten/St. Martin. It’s aims are
Body, Mind & Spirit is a community-based organization tasked with the creation of public health awareness campaigns. The foundation strives to create awareness about (sexual) health, human rights and general well-being on the island of Saba, Caribbean Netherlands. Several programs maintained that serve the needs of the community of Saba and the wider Caribbean.
The original rainbow flag, called the Freedom Flag, was devised by Gilbert Baker in 1978. The design has undergone several revisions since its debut with 8 colored stripes, and today the most common variant consists of 6 stripes: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet.
Picture of Gilbert Baker's original Freedom Flag showing the meaning of the 8 colors.