November 24, 2017 – St. John’s, Antigua – On Thursday afternoon twenty-three (23) students graduated from the Directorate of Gender Affairs Work & Life Skills Programme.

The programme, which ran from September 11 to October 23, saw the participants engage in a series of sessions meant to improve their personal and professional capacities in areas such as personal values, confidence building, maintaining healthy relationships, professionalism, time and money management, and family planning. The initiative also included modules on gender stereotyping and gender-based violence and featured a two-week internship programme.

To date six (6) participants have gained full-time employment through the programme. Sabrina Magloire is one such student. Sabrina now works at the Family and Social Services Division within the Ministry of Social Transformation & Human Resource Development. She said the programme helped her and the other participants in a variety of ways such as helping to improve their communication skills.

“We’ve learned good word ethics and how to work with people from different backgrounds,” she said. “The sessions were more than just tutoring. It was very interactive and we were able to share our views. I would definitely recommend it to other young people.”

The other students to secure employment were Conneth Dennis who works in the Radiology department at the Mount St. John’s Medical Centre; Melisa Bryne, stationed at the Ministry of Social Transformation; Shaquille Malcolm with the Ministry of Tourism; and Denae Ryan and Nikishia Thompson are now employed at the Ministry of Labour.

Programme coordinator, Therese Nicholas, says she’s extremely proud of the programme’s success and that the Directorate has already registered a number of candidates for next year’s programme.

Honourable Minister of Social Transformation & Human Resource Development, Samantha Marshall, addressed Thursday’s ceremony where she congratulated the students on their achievement. She also commended the public and private sector organizations who facilitated the internship portion of the programme, citing the importance of such cooperation to nation- building and to the country’s overall sustainable development.

“We need to continue to build these types of inter-governmental and private-public partnerships to ensure that no one is left behind,” she said.

“My Ministry’s mandate includes ensuring positive community development, youth development, promoting gender equality, building our nation’s human resource, eradicating poverty and other

social ills and ensuring a holistic development plan to address vulnerabilities. It is through programmes like this, and many others currently being implemented across my ministry that we will achieve sustainable development.”

Acting Executive Director, Farmala Jacobs, noted that the programme would not only make the participants productive employees, but productive also citizens with a keen sense of the social issues affecting them.

“You are now equipped with the necessary skills to think about your own gendered behaviour and expectations, and to reflect on ways women, girls, men and boys see themselves, each other, and the prevailing gender norms to which they are expected to conform in their families or communities,” she said in her address.

The event comes ahead of the 16 Days of Activism which the Directorate will observe from November 25th to December 10th.

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