International Women’s Day is again being observed with the acknowledgement that still more remains to be done to achieve gender parity around the globe. The LGBTQI human rights organisation United and Strong, joins with the women of Saint Lucia and the world in the annual observance. In keeping with the theme “Inspiring Change”, U&S draws attention not to the task yet to be achieved but to the work being done to inspire change for women and girls to live in a world where they feel safe, are protected and supported to fulfil their dreams and make their maximum positive contribution to society.
The concerns of lesbian, bisexual and transgender women are often overlooked by movements seeking to improve conditions for women and gay people but United and Strong is inspiring change by including women’s issues in its advocacy, acknowledging that a cross section of gender related issues must be addressed if true parity is to be achieved.
U&S has extended its activism to working with women’s bodies locally (PROSAF), regionally (Caribbean feminists network Catchafyah) and internationally (AWID). This has been recognised and supported by organisations such as the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice. In 2013 U&S brought together thirty-five (35) women from fourteen (14) countries, for the Caribbean’s first conference on Women and Sexual Diversity in collaboration with Curacao Pride Foundation (FOKO). The organisation has also made representation on behalf of Saint Lucian women in diverse local, regional and international fora and currently has two representatives attending the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.
The organisation is already planning the next in what is expected to be an annual Caribbean Women and Sexual Diversity conference; is empowering more women through education and sensitisation to advocate on behalf of themselves and others; is featuring more women in its media advocacy; and is extending its work with rights based women’s organisations.
Executive Director of United and Strong Kenita Placide, is herself an example of how the organisation supports women. However although she was nurtured to her leadership by what was a majority male executive at the time, she has since brought gender-balance to U&S, and the executive now includes three other women. She has further proven what an organisation can achieve with a female at the helm as U&S has reinforced its grassroots base, has drawn more open support from non-LGBTI persons, has initiated new projects every year and secured international recognition for its work.
United and Strong wishes all women of Saint Lucia a fulfilling International Women’s Day 2014, and recommits to inspiring change by working assiduously to promote gender equity through its mission to arrest the spread of HIV, reduce stigma and discrimination and protect rights and lives. The organisation further calls on people in every sphere to utilise their diverse skills and talents to inspire change in their own circles, no matter how big or small.