Opening Remarks at EmpowHer
Thank you for inviting me to be a part of this initiative today. Today’s programme “ EmpowHer” marks the start of a new, exciting and challenging journey for you young ladies as over the next months you will be exposed to fashion, design and entrepreneurship. You will learn how to move your passion to profit.
An interesting fact….According to the World Youth Report 2016- “Young women are less likely than young men to become entrepreneurs, due to cultural and social barriers in some countries, which further limits the employment options of female youth.”
Another interesting fact….. In the 2015/2016 UWI St. Augustine Annual Report, 37% of persons enrolled in on campus programmes were male while 67% were females and programmes such as this one further support my position.
Based on this, it seems like we (women) are ahead of the game and already breaking the cycle right here. Programmes such as this one are therefore critical to breaking the cycle and I dare say we are well on the road to doing this as we see more are more females empowering themselves through education.
By participating in this programme you will have the opportunity to not only hone your craft and passion for fashion but you will learn more about the skills needed to become an entrepreneur. You will employ yourselves through your creativity and skill but some of you may employ others thus adding to the development and diversification of the economy of Trinidad and Tobago.
For the most part, our twin island republic has depended heavily on external forces, albeit the purchase of our oil and gas. For too long we have been dependent on these external forces to dictate our economic direction. As the Minister of Community Development, Culture and the Arts, I would argue that the true wealth of this country is our creative uniqueness – that is the one resource that will never run out; that is the one resource that gives us a distinct advantage. It is the resource that you must use to help chart the economic diversification of Trinidad and Tobago.
Some of us in this room might be too young to remember that in the 1980’s the price of oil took a nose dive and Trinidad and Tobago was plunged head first into an economic recession. What happened? Entrepreneurs, like yourselves, took the lead, and created innovations in the textile, culinary and manufacturing industries. Tight economic times forced us to look inward for our solutions and today as times are lean you hold the answers to future economic development. The Kauffman Foundation in one of its studies said “Periods of recession and crisis seem to create more opportunities but what remains clear is that entrepreneurs always try, whatever the difficulty of the times”.
Let me end by congratulating Dr. Marielle Barrow and the members of the “This is Me” Project for inspiring and guiding this group of entrepreneurs. I look forward to the continued growth of the programme and to hearing your individual success stories.
“each stage is a challenge, each challenge is a lesson, each lesson is an opportunity, each opportunity is a blessing.” Nyan Gadsby-Dolly 2017.
Thank you and may God Bless you.