Jamaican Activist Reflects on Second Caribbean Women and Sexual Diversity Conference

The second Caribbean Women and Sexual Diversity Conference with the theme “Inspiring Women to leadership” was convened in Suriname October 5 to 12 by United and Strong St. Lucia with support from CariFLAGS, WomenSWaySuriname and international partners. IGLHRC’s Jessica Stern and María Mercedes Gómez participated in the conference and facilitated a capacity-strengthening workshop for human rights documentation. Paige Andrew of J-FLAG shares her experience and the impact the conference will have on her advocacy in the following post. Empowering and extremely fulfilling; those are the words that come to mind, when I think of my experience at the second Caribbean Women and Sexual Diversity Conference (CWSDC), which was held in Suriname in October this year. As a queer person and budding activist, the conference was an incredible experience. The workshops were not only informative and engaging, but exciting. The practical aspect of the workshops, made it easy for the participants to gauge exactly how we would use the information, in our fight for LGBT equality in the Caribbean. The workshops looked at different topics, from documentation and sexual violence to resource mobilization. One thing that was mentioned countless times throughout the conference, was the lack of and need for data on LBT women in the Caribbean. This is something I am incredibly interested in due to my love for research. The fact that it can assist greatly in the fight for equality, solidified its importance in my mind. This is something that I have taken home with me and I will continue to assist my organization with research in the coming years. Another fulfilling thing was interacting with many activists, who are well established in the field of activism and human rights. This made for an incredible opportunity for networking and I look forward to working with them in the coming years. Participants of the Caribbean Women and Sexual Diversity Conference

Participants of the second Caribbean Women and Sexual Diversity Conference. These strident activists are working to increase women's visibility in Caribbean LGBT communities.

The conference culminated with a pride march, which was a part of Suriname’s Coming Out week and without a doubt the most liberating experience I have ever had. I have lived in both Jamaica and Trinidad which are countries which do not celebrate LGBT pride, so it was an incredible experience to openly march for a cause close to my heart. All in all, the CWSDC 2014 opened my eyes to the issues Caribbean LBT women face, gave me the opportunity to meet activists from the Caribbean and North America and has truly empowered me to believe that I am doing exactly what I want and need to be doing with my life.