SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - On Saturday 18 March 2023, A Betta Place Foundation and Angelique Romou hosted the 1st Women in Leadership Gala. This auspicious Black Tie Red Carpet fundraising event, was top notch from the décor, the ambiance, the food, the poised attendees and the stellar Speakers, Panelists and entertainers, was led by the mistress of ceremony Ms. Diandra Marlin, who did an amazing job throughout the evening.
She opened the event by introducing Pastor Ms. Torana Granston who opened in prayer, followed by the amazing young violinist Ms. Tefari Preevo-Francisco who played the St. Martin Song on Violin and the first four speakers, MP Angelique Romou, who did the welcome for the Women in leadership Gala (WILG), the Honorable Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs, who gave the opening remarks, Lisa Hanna MP of Jamiaca gave the keynote address and Ms. Harsha Parchani, a young St. Maarten Electrical Engineer who works for Microsoft in Silicon Valley.
The first 3 speakers spoke about the importance of women uplifting each other, being your sisters’s keeper, recognizing that everyone is an individual with special individual talents, identifying one’s own potential, believing in one’s dream and the importance of women passing on knowledge and preparing the next generation for success, it was emphasized that anyone who did not see the benefit of passing on the knowledge and experience they gained to their successors, hereby enabling them to be the next in line, the next leaders was setting up the future development of their country for failure, it was also explained how women lead differently, because they lead with foresight, inclusivity, compassion and are able to bring everything full circle.
Harsha Parchani who was brought to St. Maarten by MP Romou was there to talk about Young Girls and Women in STEM, Science, Technology. Engineering and Math, honoring the main cause of the fundraising which was to raise funds for women initiatives, such as accumulating funds to send 2 girls to a STEM Summer Program. Harsha spoke about the challenges that women face in the industry but also highlighted the wealth of knowledge women bring to the field and encouraged young girls to enter this mainly male dominated industry.
She also discussed innovative ways that STEM could actually play a major role in the development of St. Maarten.
The evening continued with the Moderator for the evening Ms. Riddhi Samtani, also a young dynamic St. Maartener, who moderated the two panels.
The first was the political panel, with the theme “Women’s representation in Politics: The achievements and Challenges” with panelists Minister of Justice Ms. Anna Richardson, Minister of Education and Social Development, Ms. Dee-Ann Kentish Rogers of Anguilla, Commissioner of Government Ms. Alida Francis from St. Eustatius and Ms. Bernadetts Davis, 2nd vice president of the collectivite of St. Martin Nord. These ladies spoke about how their mothers and grandmothers influenced their careers and spoke truth about having a seat at the table and still being judged differently than a man for example by being stern in decision making and not settling for less. The biggest take away was the encouragement given to all women who envisioned contributing and being involved in charting the course of the future development of their country by getting into politics.
The Corporate panel’s theme was Breaking through the Glass Ceiling: How to Achieve Career Success As a woman. The panelists were Ms. Brenda Wathey, Ms. Mayling Chun, Ms. Ichel Moeslikan, and Ms. Ida Zin-Ka-Ieu, these ladies shared their experiences on the rise to the top, and when asked what advice they would give women, the main topic of the evening was not to tear other women down but to uplift , inspire and motivate them along the way, they explained that too many times women were the ones who brought down and ridiculed other women and said that this must stop in order for all women to advance in their own right.
This jam-packed evening of women motivating and inspiring each other also saw some great entertainers in the likes of Ms. Clara Reyes, Ms. Shanella James, Ms. Malaika Maxwell, Ms. Shakiya Arrindell, Ms. Natisha Hanson and the youngest Ms. Tamillia Chance. The ladies performed beautiful renditions of songs that uplift women.
Angelique also recognized women who she considered to be deserving of Humanitarian awards. Ms. Asha Stevens received the humanitarian award in Education for all her years of forging the advancement in Education and for assisting and building others along the way as the director of the Hillside Christian Schools. Ms. Avril Gumbs received the Humanitarian award for Community Service, for all her years of serving the elderly and caring for children in need in St. Maarten.
Ms. Maria Chemont received the humanitarian award for her many years in Nursing and for being that community care giver, and for continuing her service and lending her hands to take care of so many even in retirement. As the evening came to a close the MC thanked all who contributed to the success of the evening and Angelique also gave special recognition to the men who attended the Gala in support of women, and then the harmonious 6 entertainers brought the house down with a beautiful arrangement of “I’m every woman”.
All the women and men who attended the 1st women in Leadership Gala, had an exciting and thought-provoking evening. All the women were inspired, motivated, and in awe of the stories and advice passed on to them from fellow women in the room. Ultimately all women and men walked away saying that this event was engaging, encouraging, progressive and optimistic for them, inspiring them to aspire to achieve everything within their power and beyond.
The Betta Place Foundation and MP Angelique Romou said they were now tasked with engaging the secondary schools to identify girls who will be interested in attending the camp and then they would choose 2 girls to attend. They also thanked all participants, the organizing committee and everyone who came out and all who supported the 1st Women in Leadership fundraising Gala in one way or the other and said God spare their lives the second promises to be even better than the first.