Date: 27 March 2022
Introduced by: Dr. Nilda Arduin
In the midst of the many issues and challenges facing our world, commemorating and celebrating women’s accomplishments this year is even more important in order not to be distracted and lose sight of progress made. So, I salute the many concerned persons all over the globe, who keep the torch burning to empower women over the years.
We should acknowledge that it is no longer a man’s world with an itsy bitsy touch of a woman in the Western hemisphere. Women have made strides and have taken over some sectors of the working society, causing at times a measure of concern of imbalance in the education of our youth, in particular in our Caribbean societies.
Though much has been achieved to break the bias since the Women’s lib movement and feminism of my youth, there is much work still ahead of us to raise the image of women in leadership and awareness for gender equality. I caution to be prudent not to define gender equality with perceived male standards. Female leaders are characterized by often prioritizing personal development, bringing different skills to the table, details, creativity, imagination, a new sense of awareness and perspectives for problem solving and leadership. Their nurturing instinct may play a role in supporting the development of others in order to make a real and lasting difference where they are.
Having moved from leadership within the household to the highest echelons in the corporate world, public power and authority, we should take stock as we forge forward. The Caribbean has seen many female leaders of Government over the years, including in our own territory, Sint Maarten. Hence, hearing the rising stories of two key players in politics at the unset of the new constitutional status of Sint Maarten should inspire.
As a leader I have learned that it is pivotal to be aware of your limitations and own (un)conscious bias, develop self-confidence to seize opportunities and take risks, stay inspired by being passionate and curious, be comfortable and stay true to your values and norms. It is important to be a voice at the table, and not an afterthought. Inspire and empower other women, while you are at the top.
I have also learned that humility directs your ego away from yourself to a larger good. It opens up possibilities, develops an open mind and curiosity, rather than protecting only your own point of view. And so I hope to inspire the next generations: to belief in yourself, be willing to learn and nurture others, focus on achieving the set goals (both personal and collective goals), lead with decisiveness, be passionate and open-minded, question the status quo. Be not afraid to admit when you do not know, and ask for help. Leadership is established by actual accomplishments, and willingness of others to follow.
Today’s panelist as the host coins them as ‘Women of the Constitution’ takes me back to 101010. Until 2010 Sint Maarten had no direct representation and deliberations with the Netherlands regarding the relationship, other than utilizing its right of self-determination to acquire an autonomous status within the Dutch Kingdom. Since 101010 Sint Maarten is responsible and accountable for making its own decisions and execute them. The right of self-government, self-directing freedom goes together with moral independence and personal autonomy. As such it behooves the people of Sint Maarten, the Rising Majority, to know and be actively involved with the direction of the country.
Knowledge of the Constitution of Sint Maarten and the history behind it, is a must for all persons that made Sint Maarten their home. Even after many years since decolonization, (a matter of debate in our Parliament today), people who have undergone colonization often live in a society marked by frequent misunderstanding, clashes, and reminders of the superiority of the colonial society. A barrier typified by the Prime Minister of Barbados, the Honorable Mia Mottley (a woman!), as the barrier of self-contempt.
As ‘Women of the Constitution’ todays panelists had to answer questions such as: What is the Constitution? Why is the Constitution important in a democracy? Why should you, the people of Sint Maarten know the basics of this law, which forms the foundation of our political system and organization of the country? They represented two of the three pillars of the Trias Politica in a democracy, the legislative and executive powers.
Being grounded in understanding who we are and what we stand for is pivotal to move forward. And so it is not surprising that, CHAI and its leader Amanda Vital, guiding, informing and playing a result oriented role in achieving the goals of their clients, as well as developing positive initiatives for the Sint Maarten community, are presenting you the stories of two leaders, women, who were at the helm of our young nation on 101010.
To young women I say: Be a change agent, lead by example, take charge and ownership of your career. To the women of my generation I say: Do not underestimate the value of having paved the way for younger generations. As a result, humanity is not deprived of the many talents and contributions of women, which were previously denied.