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Community Last Updated: Mar 20, 2019 - 10:15:55 AM

S.M.A.R.T. Women Campaign launched
By Felicity Darville
Mar 20, 2019 - 8:15:02 AM

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(l-r) - Marisa Mason Smith, Linda Baker, Charlene Paul, Cheryl Bazard and Corinna Neely

A new campaign has been launched in an effort to unite Bahamian women from all walks of life to create an impact on an ailing Bahamian society. The SMART Women campaign seeks to work with existing organisations for women and girls, allowing them all to network in a way that makes their goals more achievable and impactful on the broader society.

SMART: Spiritual, Mature, Active, Relational Tutors plan to flood the schools, corporate Bahamas and communities with messages designed to "inspire and influence women to build strong communities".

The campaign will result in the conducting of a survey of at least 1,000 women. After the survey, the information will be used to help tailor specific messages to empower women which, in turn, will help them empower their families and the country. The Smart Women campaign will result in a series of radio and television appearances, a major summit planned for September, and the production of books and paraphernalia to support the goals.

The first group of targeted SMART Women listen attentively

With the core values of integrity, transparency, trustworthiness, confidentiality and accountability, the campaign intends to "spread the message of excellence through the inspiration of smart choices and smart decisions". The mission is to create and develop a network of smart women who “enhance, transform and empower a nation” through seminars, workshops, conferences and mentorship. The motto is: “strengthening her hands, renewing her mind”.

The “smart women champions” who came together to start it all include: Charlene Paul, Marisa Mason Smith, Cheryl Bazard, Corinna Neely and Linda Baker. Paul is a chief internal auditor, Smith is a human resource and training professional, Bazard is a noted attorney, Neely is an insurance executive, and Baker is a corporate administrator. They officially launched on Tuesday, March 12 at Luciano’s of Chicago restaurant, with about 30 women attending the event. The attendees represented the broader caucus of core women that the campaign is targeting to help reach a broad sector of society.

Cheryl Bazard, who elaborated on the SMART Women vision at the event, noted that the success of the campaign would help The Bahamas as it strives to reach United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Particularly, goal 1 reducing poverty; goal 2 on food security; goal 3 promoting good health and well being; and goal 10 of creating reduced inequalities in the country. She pointed out that in the latest McKinsey report study in Canada, it has been found that engaging women in the economy will lead to $150 billion in GDP growth by 2026. The United Nations has stated that empowering women in the economy and closing gender gaps in the world of work are key to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. She notes that only 5 per cent of Fortune 500 CEOs are women, indicating space for growth.

Charlene Paul speaks on the vision of the campaign

“This is not motivated by party, colour, class or creed; it is driven by our motto of forward, upward, onward, together and every effort, no matter how small, is a trajectory that is progressive and unifying” she said.

Charlene Paul said the campaign plans to partner with a network of key organisations with a focus on women. Thousands of women will be invited to sign up to join the campaign.

“We have gathered to bring focus and attention to the women of our society. Women have an awesome role but also an awesome opportunity to bring the change we need in our society. Over 70 per cent of Bahamian homes are ran by women. Women yield significant hold over our children, our ideologies – religion, health and wealth are in the hands of women.” 

Charlene said “everyone is trying to do it on their own, and that’s not how nations are built”.

“Each group can only do so much. But by networking, synergy happens. We can spread our messages far and wide. We have got to work together and support each other.”

Often, they say, women may not get the best education and therefore are not able to demand higher paying jobs. Due to the demands of family and work, women are stressed and "end up being the martyr, trying to take care of everyone else to their own detriment". The group says some women have rebelled against this pressure and have the I'm doing me" attitude, which can result in poor choices being made in terms of relationships.

High demands on a woman's time also result in poor eating habits, which can result in a plethora of health related issues. Very quickly, these women say, a "vicious cycle ensues from which it becomes difficult, if not impossible, for a woman to get back on the right track without intervention". They want women to understand that building a strong, healthy family is more important than getting money. To build a strong family, they say, a woman must focus on: faith, health, relationships and finances.

The group is appealing to women who have much to offer to help those who need guidance and tutorship in their lives. They also want to form the kind of network that sees tangible goals achieved to the benefit of a wider spectrum of Bahamians, hence creating a better environment for citizens to thrive.

To learn more about the SMART Women campaign, call Charlene Paul at 422-3766 or email crpfree@live.com

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