Women need to support each other in order to move forward. This was the theme of the EMPOWER Ladies Brunch and Cocktail event held on October 18, put on by The Sisterhood, an organization dedicated to the empowerment of women. Over 100 female executives, business women and entrepreneurs gathered at HOME Cafe in Port of Spain for this networking event.
Founder of The Sisterhood, Thokozile James, said she created the organization because she always wanted to be part of a sisterhood of women. “From a young age I feel like we as women subconsciously and unintentionally adopt a series of competitive habits. Most times we aren’t even unaware of the damage it causes to both ourselves and others as well as the many doors it closes. I think if more opportunities were made available for us to interact frequently and productively we can see for ourselves that we are indeed awesome. I think this is the purest example of true sisterhood and should be showcased more often and more vividly.”
She went on to introduce four motivational speakers who had all excelled in their chosen field.
First was Arlene Villarule Felix, owner and founder of the AV Makeup Line and the Art of Beauty. She told her story of being hired at the Giorgio Armani counter of Selfridges in London even though she had no formal training in makeup and how this eventually led to her returning to Trinidad, opening her studio and starting her own makeup line. Arlene encouraged the women present to find their passion and give 100% in whatever they did, regardless of what others might say about them.
The next speaker, Shalima Mahadeo, a financial advisor with the Guardian Group, told of her struggle to leave the family business because, coming from a Muslim background, women were expected to submit and were not acknowledged. She told the audience that they should always ask themselves “Why Me? Why Not?” Shalima also encouraged the women to empower themselves financially. She also handed out two vouchers for routine breast cancer screening. This prompted powerful testimony from a lady who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer, who urged the attendees to stop putting others before themselves and get their health checked.
Dr. Gabrielle Hosein, activist and researcher at the Institute of Gender and Development Studies at the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, reminded the women that they all have and should share their own stories, whether they be happy, sad, strange or passionate. “I’m passionate about creating the conditions for our lives where we do not experience any forms of subordination, exclusion, marginalization, misunderstanding and especially violence,” Gabrielle told an appreciative audience.
Motivational speaker and leadership coach Gillian Wall spoke to the ladies of doing business in a spirit of love, which would improve the quality of their businesses and lead to greater accountability, transparency and integrity. She urged them to engage in good practices in their businesses. “The more we represent greatness and love, that’s what we will see all around us.” Gillian reminded those present to tell themselves they were always enough.
The Sisterhood can be found on Facebook and contacted at 680-3006.