International Women’s Day: 5 Caribbean women leading the charge

Communities, countries and continents are celebrating International Women’s Day in abundance today – and with good reason. This year’s theme, according to the United Nation Women, is “I am Generation Equality – Realizing Women’s Rights”.

The movement is geared towards bringing together people of every gender, age, ethnicity, race, religion and country, to drive actions that will create the gender-equal world we all deserve.

In the Caribbean, there have been several women that have been doing the good work to push the #EachForEqual agenda.

Today, BUZZ celebrates five women who have been leading the charge to make our space safe for the next generation but to also remind everyone that it only takes the decisive and determined action of one individual to make the world of difference towards an equal, enriched and enabled world for women and girls.

Senator Aziza Lake

Politician, Antigua and Barbuda

Politician, Senator Aziza Lake

The Honourable Aziza Lake continues to leave an indelible footprint on issues that affect our Caribbean youth, including LGBTQI + rights in the region. Some of this Antiguan’s biggest professional accomplishments include delivering a speech at the United Nations for the launch of the Global Equality Caucus (of which she is a founding member) and participating in a panel at the PGA Annual Forum alongside Sir Richard Cheltenham.

“Women and girls are disadvantaged at some level in all parts of the globe.”

— Senator Aziza Lake

For her, this year’s IWD 2020 theme, #EachForEqual, plays a significant role in the way she approaches her work. “It means to me that all members of society play a role in advocating for gender equality,” she explains. “Women and girls are disadvantaged at some level in all parts of the globe.

Lake has participated in a panel at the PGA Annual Forum alongside Sir Richard Cheltenham.

“Education, political representation, voting rights, bodily autonomy, safety and security, reproductive rights, abortion, salary and wage remuneration are all ways women and girls are not fully represented under the law.”

Leigh Phillips

Singer/Songwriter, Barbados

Singer/Songwriter Leigh Phillips

Leigh Phillips is a popular singer-songwriter known for her captivating vibrato on the Caribbean Jazz circuit. She also channels her passion for marketing as Lead Brand Strategist with G&A Communications Inc.

“We are all working towards living in a world where everyone is capable of pursuing their passions.”

— Leigh Phillips

To date, her biggest accomplishment as an artist was her performance in Toronto, Canada for Barbados on the Water 2019, where she was asked to perform the Barbados National Anthem to open the weekend of activities, in addition to having her own set with the John Roett Project.

To date, her biggest accomplishment as an artist was her performance in Toronto, Canada for Barbados on the Water 2019.

The songstress, who released her debut EP “Queen” in 2019, feels strongly about the International Women’s Day theme this year. “#EachForEqual means that we are all working towards living in a world where everyone is capable of pursuing their passions regardless of gender, race, age, class or sexual orientation.”

Zinaida McNamara

Attorney-At-Law/Event Director/Carnival Band Leader, St. Lucia

Lawyer and Businesswoman, Zinaida McNamara

Creating legacies is the name of the professional game for Zinaida McNamara. She takes personal pride into her accomplishments as a lawyer, following in the footsteps of her grandfather and father, who have both achieved Queen’s Counsel status in their respective careers.

“I have committed to a life of leading by example and ensuring that I create opportunities for women and girls in St. Lucia.”

— Zinaida McNamara

Having joined her family’s legal practice in 2008 as the only female lawyer – where her uncle, brother and two cousins are also lawyers – McNamara balances her life as an attorney and wife with various her entertainment pursuits. She is a Director at Exotic Events Inc., an event management company known for its in-demand events on the Carnival Circuit and is also co-founder of mas giant Legends Carnival Band.

“I am all about creating space at the table for women, and #EachForEqual embodies that mantra,” says the events director and mas band leader.

“I am all about creating space at the table for women, and #EachForEqual embodies that mantra,” she says. “Having had the personal experience of rising to the challenge of patriarchy several times in my career in my various roles, I have committed to a life of leading by example and ensuring that I create opportunities for women and girls in St. Lucia.”

Phylicia Ellis

Fashion Designer, Bahamas

Fashion Designer, Phylicia Ellis

When one thinks of weddings in The Bahamas, it’s hard not to mention the name, Phylicia Ellis. This young arbiter of bridal style has become a staple on the fashion circuit in the stunning chain of islands as well as throughout the region with her intricate beadwork and eye-catching creations.

“Equality is always in style”

— Phylicia Ellis

In addition to interning with big bridal names such as couture designer Victor De Souza and award-winning Mandy Coon, Ellis’ work has been featured in Caribbean Beat Magazine, Adriana Weddings, and has also gone viral with tens of thousands of followers on Instagram and Twitter for her gorgeous custom designs.

Equality is always in style,” says the Bahamian, whose designs have gone viral on Instagram and Twitter.

“Equality is always in style,” quips the young fashion designer. “#EachForEqual represents the women seeking the same opportunities as their male counterparts – and is a call for men to men who not only support the idea, but for them to engage in productive actions towards a better quality of life for women and girls who will continue to lead us into tomorrow.”

Shari Petti

Filmmaker/Director/Cinematographer, Trinidad and Tobago

Filmmaker Shari Petti

Not many film professionals can credit their first documentary as being accepted and nominated for Best Documentary Short Film at the Pan African Film Festival, but Shari Petti has managed to accomplish that and much more in her incredible career.

“We must be relentless in our pursuit of equal opportunities.”

— Shari Petti

The 2017 winner of the “People’s Choice” award at the highly-regarded Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival has received regional and international praise for her film “Sorf Hair”, which explores the vast natural hair experience in her twin-island Republic.

The “Sorf Hair” Director has been nominated for Best Documentary Short Film at the Pan African Film Festival.

For the brilliant creative Petti, #EachForEqual tells a first-hand experience of doing more to level the playing field for women, “We must be relentless in our pursuit of equal opportunities – not just between men and women, but especially for people of different classes, races, religions, shapes, sizes and more.”