After attending the global 2019 Women Deliver Conference in Vancouver, Canada, this summer, two Ohio University graduate students hope to amplify women’s voices at OHIO and support women’s organizations in any way they can.
Paige Andrew, a master’s candidate in communications and development; and Anna-Kaye Rowe, a PhD candidate in higher education, represented Ohio University at the conference, which saw more than 8,000 attendees from 150 countries. They were also representing their home countries of Trinidad for Andrew, and Jamaica for Rowe.
The 2019 Women Deliver Conference is the world’s largest gathering on gender equality and the health, rights and wellbeing of girls and women, according to the organization. The partner-driven conference presents new knowledge, promotes solutions and serves as a fueling station for influencers and advocates working to achieve a more gender-equal world.
Andrew said her area of work is LGBTQI rights, specifically in the Caribbean region. Working alongside individuals from around the world who share many different views on LGBTQI rights is always an enlightening experience, she said, but the conference created a space for open conversation and different narratives.
“I had the opportunity to sit on a panel, which was planned and hosted by the Government of Canada, which looked at the inclusion of LGBTQI people in feminist movements and that was definitely the highlight of the conference for me,” Andrew explained. “Having my voice heard as a black, Caribbean woman on such a platform was fantastic and reminded me that many of us are privileged in certain circumstances and in those spaces, we have a responsibility to pass the mic to those who are vulnerable and disadvantaged and create spaces for their voices to be heard.”
Rowe said it was “hands-down the best conference” she’s ever attended, and she should know. This was her third time attending the Women Deliver Conference, which is held every three years.
She was first introduced to the gathering in 2010 while working for a women’s organization in Jamaica, and was honored this time around to represent her home country and Ohio University’s Global Leadership Center, where she’s a teaching assistant.
Rowe explained the conference organizers are very intentional about engaging young people from different backgrounds and because of that, the Caribbean had a plethora of representation at the conference, from St. Lucia to Barbados and beyond.
Andrew noted that their experience allowed them to think about how they as Caribbean students at OHIO can bring the general principles they took from the conference to the University’s larger Caribbean population as a part of the newly formed Caribbean Scholars Association, particularly as the majority of its members identify as women.
“Having conversations surrounding feminism and gender equality with them and also involving other organizations and associations who may be like-minded is something we'd like to do in the coming year,” Andrew added.
Rowe said they’re also working with OHIO’s Margaret Boyd Scholars program, as they hope to amplify women’s leadership on campus without reinventing the wheel all of the time.
“There’s so many existing programs and opportunities on campus already that I think it’s important to seek to partner and support what’s currently going on instead of doing something distinct,” Rowe said. “The main takeaway that I got from the conference this year is that there is a need for greater focus on harnessing our individual and collective power and moving away from the tendency to critique or replicate leadership, advocacy and empowerment efforts. In so doing we remain focused on what matters harnessing the potential of women and girls and our unique lived experiences and using that to fuel our passions and drive change."