PHILIPSBURG/PORT OF SPAIN – St. Maarten/St. Martin Alliance For Equality (SAFE) Foundation President, Lysanne Charles-Arrindell and Treasurer, Nadjesca Gumbs are currently in Trinidad attending the 3rd annual Caribbean Women & Sexual Diversity Conference.
The conference, which runs from October 5 – October 11, 2015, brings together lesbian, bi-sexual and transgendered (LBT) women from across the region and western hemisphere for advocacy training and networking.
This year the conference covers topics such as community grassroots organizing, negative stereotypes and violence, media and advocacy, creative activism, grassroots fundraising, self-care/financial health, UN mechanisms (CEDAW/Commission on the Status of Women), LBT Sisterhood, Women’s Sexual & Mental Health, Security for Human Rights Defenders, Afro-centric Activism, Presentation Skills, LBT Women’s Movement Building/Feminism, Focus Groups on Activism Against Gender-based Violence. The participants are also taking part in health and relaxation sessions such as yoga and masala bhangra.
For Charles-Arrindell, who is also representing Body, Mind & Spirit (BMS) from Saba and the Pink Orange Alliance (POA), which is a kingdom effort between lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, and transgender (LGBT) organizations, this is her second year at the regional LBT conference and this year she will also facilitate and present a session on Creative Activism looking at the use of the arts for advocacy, confrontation and resistance.
“I am really pleased that I had an opportunity, chiefly via funding from BMS , COC & United & Strong, to participate in this conference again. This is a venture which really leads to lbt empowerment and networking and speaks to the idea that, both regionally and locally, we are stronger together. I’m also happy to be presenting on my two main passions arts and activism and I hope that the presentation stimulates good conversation and leads to tangible projects and activities for lbt women as it pertains to the arts. I can’t wait to come back and apply what I have learnt to our context,” Charles – Arrindell said.
This is Gumbs’ first year at the conference and she said that she is eager to learn from other organizations and individuals about their efforts on their islands and in their countries. She said that this knowledge would be applied to SAFE and the St. Maarten/St. Martin LBT reality.
“SAFE works for everyone in the LGBT community and we will continue to do this. This conference focuses on women’s issues and I think that this is also very important, because there are specific issues that impact us and that we need more strategies to tackle these. So far I had a great time and learned a lot and I like that there are different kinds of women at this conference, because it allows us to hear different stories and voices,” Gumbs said.
Gumbs said that SAFE may organize a lbt mini-conference on St. Maarten soon and perhaps even a gbt conference. She said that it is important for the diverse experiences of the St. Maarten/St. Martin LGBT community to share their reality. Gumbs is expected to return to the conference next year with another representative of SAFE.
SAFE’s president, Charles – Arrindell, said that it is important that all LBT persons who are interested in activism and advocacy on the islands of St. Maarten/St. Martin, Saba & St. Eustatius have the opportunities to attend such conferences to learn and share with others. She encourages all persons interested in activism to contact SAFE, BMS or POA.
Photo caption: l to r Nadjesca Gumbs (SAFE Treasurer) and Lysanne Charles-Arrindell (SAFE President)