By DENISE MAYCOCK
Tribune Freeport Reporter
ABOUT 150 high school girls received words of encouragement and inspiration at Girl Con 2017 - the first girls conference of its kind held in Grand Bahama, highlighting National Women's Week.
The event - which is the brainchild of Senate President Katherine Forbes-Smith - took place Tuesday at Keen i Media Studios in Freeport.
It brought together a diverse panel of women speakers in various genres who shared their personal stories of struggle and success with girls in their senior year of high school to uplift them as they prepare for their transition to adulthood.
The speakers were Senator Jasmine Turner-Dareus; Marie Roach-Hepburn, a woman Anglican priest, Eldri Ferguson, vice-president of BTC Northern Bahamas; Bahamian playwright Gia Pierre; and photographer Lynda Wells.
The girls were encouraged to pursue their passion or dreams in life and to be the best they can be by working hard.
Mrs Smith said that the event was a success, and hopes to have it as an annual event. "This event taking place during National Women's Week which was launch on November 26 at Holy Trinity in New Providence. And in Nassau, Abaco, Exuma and the other Family Islands they are doing events in conjunction with [National Women's Week]," she said.
Mrs Smith said that Girl Con 2017 is something she has always wanted to do for a long time. The event is supported by Minister of Social Services and Urban Development Lanisha Rolle.
"This is truly a success today and this is something we will build upon because we want to continue to talk to our young women," Mrs Smith said. "We have to do things to recognise women generally. I always tell people I don't understand why we are not where we ought to be when we represent more of the voting bloc in this country, where we represent more than half of the world's population.
"But, sometimes I think we don't support each other enough, and really that is the message I want to get out from this conference with these young ladies. First of all, there should be no barriers that you should not be able to overcome as you move along in your life. And secondly, let's start supporting women in this country."
Mrs Smith said that when young ladies are graduating from high school and getting ready for the next level of development, it is important to give them some encouragement.
She believes it is necessary to bring women together who can give them some good advice as they move on to the next level of life.
"They have a lot of decisions to make; college is a big deal and some of them have to go into the workforce. I think (a conference of this kind) is always helpful."
According to Mrs Smith, much thought went into organising the conference and to make it as interactive as possible for the participants.
She was pleased with the turnout of participants, which included 151 students from various high schools, and some 40 women representing non-government organisations in the community, as well as women who are at the top in their profession.