All participants have hailed as a success the 3rd Caribbean Women and Sexual Diversity Conference 2015, hosted by United and Strong Saint Lucia/CariFLAGS Eastern Caribbean Hub and Womantra with support from the Women’s Caucus of Trinidad and Tobago. The conference, held in Port of Spain, Trinidad, from October 5 to 11, greeted over 50 lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LBT) persons, as well as straight allies from the Caribbean and Latin America. A variety of feminist, LBT and women’s organisations were represented.
Kenita Placide, Executive Director of United and Strong, said it was interesting to see the politics and diversity in action between the groups. “Being able to pull it off and have over 50 persons in the room was a new high for the conference. We were able to also involve persons from Latin America with translation and their involvement brought a wealth of knowledge that was not present in the English-speaking Caribbean. The challenge going forward is how we continue to improve, including ensuring the agenda reflects the needs of the people attending.”
The participants attended several facilitated seminars on a variety of subjects, including community grassroots organizing, negative stereotypes and violence, fundraising, media and advocacy, creative activism, self-care, analysis of some of the international law relating to women, security of women’s human rights defenders and LBT women’s movement building through feminism.
WOMANTRA Founder and Co Director Stephanie Leitch, said that, “co-ordinating a conference for some 50 people was definitely a challenge but at the end of the day you are not planning a one time event but building a movement. We have to be responsible for the nature and direction of our movements toward equality and justice and I am particularly invested in how feminist lessons can be applied to LBT activism and how we are offering support to each other across difference.”
The conference was also an opportunity to gather factual data on the issues affecting LBT women and this was facilitated by the University of the West Indies through the Institute of Gender and Development Studies (IGDS), Cavehill. IGDS Cave Hill researcher, Shari Innis Grant, said, “What both last year’s and this year’s conference provided was the opportunity to fill a gap of documentation of LBT persons’ experience throughout the Caribbean . . . We rely on anecdotal evidence but we’re now getting into a pattern of really firm, consistent, dependable documentation.”