Grand Bahama News

IBWPPI meets on GB for first time 

A weekend event highlighting the role of Black women in society and attended by delegates from around the world was officially opened on Friday morning in the Canal House, Pelican Bay Hotel.

It was the 14th Policy Meeting Retreat and Forum of the International Black Women’s Public Policy Institute (IBWPPI), an event where the women come together and strategize about the year ahead, according to IBWPPI Co-Founder and President Barbara Perkins.

“We look at what we’ve done and discuss where we are headed,” said Perkins.

IBWPPI is a non-profit organization led by a collective of inter-generational women leaders representing the interests of women in countries throughout the African diaspora.

According to the organization’s website, IBWPPI currently has representation in The Bahamas, Belize, Bermuda, Ghana, Haiti, South Africa, and the United States (US).

This year, for the first time, the meetings are being held in The Bahamas.   

Perkins said the IBWPPI, “Looks to support women who are in need, starting with their spirit; women who feel debilitated or powerless, or just tired. We are there to just support and lift them up the best way we can.”

Perkins noted that while this is her first official visit to the island, she traveled to Grand Bahama after Hurricane Dorian in 2019.

She said after seeing the devastation, the organization mobilized immediately and partnered with the Kidney Center.

“Throughout that partnership, we adopted 45 families and worked with them for one year, providing support for them as much as we could,” said Perkins.

“So, being here today is like a further expansion into the community. Having these influential women in Grand Bahama show up to learn about who we are and what we do is powerful.

“We want to join arms and aims, and set our intentions to really help each other. We don’t propose to have all the answers. But unless you are in conversations with women all over the globe, we can’t create solutions to problems that we don’t know anything about. We have to be in relationship with each other.”

The IBWPPI’s vision is to connect and advocate for Black women and girls, globally, through acts of kindness and public policy that are simple, yet bold and compelling.

Former President of the Senate Katherine Smith, who serves as chairperson responsible for IBWPPI’s Board of Directors, explained that the retreat is held every two years.

“We meet to refresh ourselves as a board and discuss whether or not we are actually doing the work we started out to do, because sometimes you can lose your way,” said Smith.

“So, we have to get in these strategic meetings and just make sure we are on the right path, building on the pillars that this organization stands on.”

The pillars include education, well and health, eradication of sex trafficking and violence against women, and economic security.

“We shared that with our invited guests, the cross-section of prominent women on the island, and our surprise guest, the Minister of Foreign Affairs Fred Mitchell,” said Smith. “We are thankful that we’ve gotten such great support from the corporate community in Grand Bahama.”

Also among those in attendance was Minister for Grand Bahama Ginger Moxey who commended IBWPPI executive officers for bringing their meeting to the island.

“We are talking about Black women in leadership roles … and so, I took the opportunity to share with them the Collab initiative that my ministry recently launched,” said Moxey.

“Collab’s main focus right now is the transition homes that we repaired and renovated in Tripp Circle. I invited them to take a look at that project and as we focus on partnering with NGOs to make things happen, I hope we can partner with the IBWPPI to deal with some of the issues that affect women and girls on the island.”

Moxey noted that aside from the organization’s business, she is hopeful the women take in some of the sites on Grand Bahama.

“They have a full weekend of activities, but I am hoping that they see other opportunities on Grand Bahama Island, and perhaps invest here,” she said.

US Embassy Chargé d’Affaires Usha Pitts, who delivered brief remarks during the opening session, told Grand Bahama News what she wanted the audience to take away from her presentation.

“My lesson was mostly for Black girls who are interested in policy and might want a career in public policy,” said Pitts.

“I want them to know that they will have to put up with adversity, but it is important that they ignore it and focus on their own excellence and doing well. If you focus on that and do not get distracted by all the other nonsense out there, then you will make it.”

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