(Castries, Saint Lucia, Oct. 13, 2017) During the 5th Annual Caribbean Women and Sexual Diversity Conference, held during the first week of October 2017, on Saint Lucia, trans-men and women from across the region convened to form a new Transgender Caucus Group.
This year's CWSDC was the first time that such a representative group of transgender activists from different parts of the region were together in one location, and they made the most of the opportunity. Activists took the initiative to hold dialogue about moving forward during two lunch-time meetings during the conference. This was initially chaired by Alexus D’Marco, the Caribbean representative of REDLACTRANS and Vice-Chair of PANCAP's Steering Committee on Youth Advocacy. Subsequently, an interim management team guided discussions.
The new management team is tasked with reaching out to potential members among transgender activists and advocacy groups in the region, community mobilisation and education of transgender persons and the wider LGBQ+ community. The team consists of some eight persons from The Bahamas, Haiti, Jamaica, Guyana, Antigua, along with an advisor from Fiji.
The initial CWSDC-5 group was constructed to give voice to transgender persons in the region and to ensure that discussions on human rights, social equality and sexual and reproductive health are inclusive of trans-men and trans-women's issues in the Caribbean.
"These persons now have a seat at the table of decision-making and visibility and are available for front line advocacy,” Notes D’Marco. “There is now greater visibility and unity among trans-people in Caribbean and as a group we will be moving forward, upward, onward and together as one Caribbean voice. We may all be from different Caribbean countries, but as the meetings demonstrated, our issues are all the same."
The organisers of the CWSDC, which had as its theme, "Self-development for Community Empowerment", are pleased that the trans-persons in attendance made use of the opportunity to connect and took the lead with the establishing of this new group.
(Saint Lucia, Oct. 10, 2017) From October 5 to October 9, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex (LBTQI) activists from across the region gathered on Saint Lucia for the 5th annual Caribbean Women and Sexual Diversity Conference (CWSDC). The groundbreaking pre-eminent networking event for LBTQI activists was convened under the theme ‘Self-Development for Community Empowerment’.
“The first ever Caribbean Women and Sexual Diversity Conference was held on Curacao in 2013. Since then the event has traveled the Caribbean from Suriname to Trinidad to St. Croix and now, because of the steadfast involvement of United and Strong, to Saint Lucia,” organiser Kenita Placide says.
Maria Fontenelle, co-coordinator of the event since its inception, notes “The CWSDC is, in more than one aspect, the premier event for LBTQI activists to grow their skills and network. It has grown in recognition and scope around the region, particularly because of the work in which activists engage post-conference. It is now vested in the Eastern Caribbean Alliance for Diversity and Equality (ECADE), which as a regional organisation, is better poised to maintain it.”
Conference organisers say over the years the conference has focused on empowering activists to better serve their communities and region. This empowerment is reflected not only in the work that activists return home to do, but also their growing involvement in the conference as presenters and organisers. Read more...
Press Release: Caribbean LBTQI/women’s conference marks historic 5th year
The CWSDC is a forum to develop a regional network of support for activism related to the recognition of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) equality, with an emphasis on women’s issues. Liberty Place of St Croix, USVI, hosted the October 4 - 7, 2016 conference with United and Strong Inc. of Saint Lucia and the Eastern Caribbean Alliance for Diversity and Equality (ECADE), a regional network of human rights NGOs.
Explore the CWSDC 2016 Agenda
LBTI Conference Births New Caribbean Trans* Group
"At the CWSDC, we made the decision a long time ago to be as inclusive as possible and are proud of these individuals for seizing the moment to create this entity which will work towards improving the lives trans-persons across the Caribbean. We expect to hear great things from them in the months ahead and will definitely continue to support their efforts," Kenita Placide of the Eastern Caribbean Alliance for Diversity and Equality (ECADE) said.
The CWSDC was organised and executed by ECADE, a regional human rights organisation, with support from United and Strong of Saint Lucia and UWI IGDS Cavehill this year. It hosted some 50 plus activists and presenters from 20 countries.
St Croix hosts 4th annual Caribbean Women
and Sexual Diversity Conference (CWSDC-4)
CWSDC-5 is hosted by ECADE with in-country support from United and Strong and IGDS UWI Cavehill., in Saint Lucia, from October 5-9, 2017.
#CWSDC5, 2017, Saint Lucia
The convening provides a space for female- and trans-identified activists to strengthen advocacy and develop the regional network of support for activism related to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) equality, with an emphasis on women’s issues.
Theme: “Self-development for community empowerment”
With the aim of creating change through individual development, #CWSDC5 will celebrate the significant contribution of Caribbean women-identified and LBTI people to their diverse communities. We will explore how women and LBTI peopel live and love at the intersection of the personal and political, their commitment to maintaining our collective bonds of family, culture and identity while creating spaces for self-actualisation and expression beyond hetero- and gender normative structures. The conference will focus on creating change through individual development and community mobilization.
The Caribbean Women and Sexual Diversity Conference was conceptualised during the women’s caucus in 2012 at the groundbreaking International Dialogue and Training on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Human Rights which was hosted in Saint Lucia. The first of its kind to be staged in the Caribbean, it recorded the highest number of lesbian and bisexual women from around the region in one space. A women’s caucus was organised in keeping with the theme: Focus on Strengthening the Caribbean Response and Linking Regional and International Advocacy Around the World. This highlighted the need for further dialogue and to reinforce support networks for lesbian, bisexual, intersex women and transgender people in the Caribbean.
From September 24 - 29, 2013 the first Caribbean Women and Sexual Diversity Conference was hosted in Curacao, where more than 30 lesbian, bisexual and transgender women activists and facilitators gathered under the theme: Strengthening the invisible woman and empowering her to leadership.
The CWSDC was subsequently hosted in Suriname, Trinidad and St. Croix, USVI.
Previous organising partners include United and Strong Inc, FOKO, WomensWay, Womantra and WCTT and Liberty Place.
#CWSDC6, 2018, Belize
Eastern Caribbean Alliance for Diversity and Equality
Original CWSDC logo designed by Dexann Rose of Jamaica
One of the exciting aspects of the CWSDC is the opportunity for those present to select the next venue and host organisation for the event. A democratic bidding process near the end of the conference is open to all attendees to showcase their country and their organisation's ability to coordinate this major annual learning, followed by voting of attendees in a process monitored by ECADE's accountant. Following a comprehensive presentation by Ifáṣínà Efunyemi, Belize is chosen as the host country for the next CWSDC!
The conference will be hosted by ECADE in collaboration with PETAL. POWA, Our Circle and UniBAM, will act as co-hosts in Belize. Find below more information on the organisations:
PETAL (Promoting Empowerment Through Awareness For Les/Bi Women): https://www.facebook.com/PETALBELIZE/
POWA (The Productive Organization for Women in Action): https://www.facebook.com/POWA-171932066207684/
UniBAM (United Belize Advocacy Movement): http://unitedbelizeadvocacymovement.blogspot.com/
Our Circle: https://www.facebook.com/ourcirclebze/
Many thanks to activists from other countries who presented proposals to host the next CWSDC.
See you in Belize!