Members of the GirlCon committee which includes Senator Kay Forbes Smith, veteran educator Yvonne Ward and scores of other influential women. (Photos: KeeniMedia for Barefoot Marketing)
Bahamian girls will do their part in the fight for for true gender equality worldwide when they attend GirlCon in Freeport on November 20.
This is the second time the conference is being held. The theme this year is "I am, I can, I will". Organisers said this conference has sparked a movement locally which has attracted the best and brightest female talents that the country has to offer and launched a new entity focused on inspiring, motivating and empowering the next generation of women leaders.
Aligning itself with the mission and vision of similar international organisations, the GirlCon organisation recognises its responsibility to ensure that girls in the Bahamas have every opportunity to succeed and that instances of abuse, exploitation, and violence are properly addressed.
According to UN statistics, in 2018 it is expected that 12 million girls under the age of 18 will be married, and 21 million girls aged 15 to 19 years will become pregnant in developing regions. As a result, GirlCon has made the support of the UN's Sustainable Goals a part of its core mission. Those goals prioritise the fight against the many adversities that hinder the right of women and girls to access education, training and even entry into the workforce. Of those 17 goals, GirlCon has put specific focus on the achievement of true gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls - particularly here in the Bahamas.
Since gaining the right to vote some 56 year ago, Bahamian women have taken their active and influential place in the direction of the Bahamas, helping to set the course of nation through their demonstrations of strength, determination and innovation.
Women have also stepped up to become leaders in politics, education, business, technology and the arts. In celebration and honour of the triumphs of the women that came before, this year's GirlCon conference will host approximately 300 young women from graduating classes across Grand Bahama and a group representing the Ladies Chamber from New Providence to a day of inspiration and empowerment.
GirlCon has enlisted entertainer Angelique Sabrina, playwright and author Kerel Pinder, as well as successful businesswomen Italia Williams-Wilson and Janette Martin-Isaacs to host a series of frank and open panel discussions on a wide range of topics, including their choices and challenges on the road to success.
"The women participating in this year's panel join the scores of women in Bahamian history of who have made amazing contributions to the development of the country and we're excited about the impact their stories will have on these future leaders," said GirlCon founder Kay Forbes-Smith.
To execute the upcoming event, GirlCon has enlisted the assistance of corporate Bahamas, including the IL Cares Foundation which has supported GirlCon since last year. The title sponsor this time around is GIBC, a global digital transformation facilitator who has supported local and global initiatives targeted toward the youth including SECME programmes in the Bahamas.
"GIBC believes that young girls and women will help to build our future, and we want to support the next generation of innovators," said GIBC Managing Director of Strategy and Planning Stella Chin.
"We live and breathe the value of gender diversity in our organisation. At GIBC, women represent 40 percent of our Bahamian workforce, and globally 34 percent of women hold leadership roles in our company."
Following the conference, the GirlCon organisation expects to continue with its mentoring programmes throughout the year in an effort to achieve its goals to inspire, motivate, empower, and advocate on the part of the next generation of female leaders.