(EMU) – St. Kitts, March, 13th, 2017: The St. Kitts Nevis Advocacy Consultancy and Training Services (SKN ACTS) in collaboration with The St. Kitts-Nevis National Commission for UNESCO launched the 1st Seminar of the Single Mothers Advancement & Resilience Training, (SMART) on Thursday 9th March. The opening ceremony held at the Bird Rock Beach Hotel, hosted the participants, one hundred (100) single mothers from around the Federation, and inmates from Her Majesty’s Prison, for the ground breaking seminar of ‘Gender Rights and Women Empowerment’. Facilitator and Strategic Planning, Youth Policy & Women Development Expert and Consultant, Ms. Dwynette D. Eversley spoke on the importance and timeliness of the project given the excessive stigmatization and social sanctions of women in today’s society.
In noting one of the project’s components, personal empowerment, Ms. Eversley stated, “When we can cope with our physical and mental health issues and interact with others from a position of confidence and knowing our worth it is a much better world, even when material things have not substantially changed.”
“Support for teen mothers is high on the Government’s agenda,” announced Hon. Wendy Phipps, Minister of Health, Community Development, Gender Affairs and Services, addressing the audience, she also added, “The Department of Gender Affairs, has been in the vanguard of the promotion and advocacy for the development of our single mothers, especially teen mothers. Project Viola is one of national note, in terms of the ability of young women to return to school after giving birth.” She also made mentioned that Project Viola is not the first of its kind in the Federation, she stated that early 1980s a similar programme, dubbed TEFLEP was in effect.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister with the responsibility for Education, Youth and Sport, Hon. Shawn Richards, spoke highly of the initiative that SKN Acts and UNESCO has undertaken, stating that single mothers play both a multifaceted and critical role in the development of our society. He added, “It is just yet not another project to deliver certain lessons to the participants, but one that can inspire the single mothers around the island to be better mothers, better citizens and empower them to be more productive and responsible as great role models to their children, even to their significant other.”
Administering closing remarks at the ceremony was Secretary General for UNESCO, Mr. Antonio Maynard, he thanked the St. Kitts – Nevis National Commission for UNESCO and SKN Acts for being the catalysts of this much needed project and invited other stakeholders to join, “We hope to invite other Ministries and stakeholders to come onboard in order to make this project sustainable, we have the framework, but funding is needed to engage and propel this important group in our society, single mothers.”
The Project SMART initiative seeks to improve the standard of living of single mothers and their families by promoting healthy lifestyles and empowerment over the course of nine (9) months. Some components of the seminar include, parenting enhancement skills workshops, training and development workshops, Basic Computer and IT Skills Training and a Summer Volunteerism Project. The project is set to conclude in November with a closing and graduation ceremony.