Jamaica Observer

Cheers, joy, tears and shock were some emotions felt yesterday when scores of women packed the Courtleigh Auditorium for the second staging of the We Inspire Women Workshop.

Held under the theme, ‘As We Rise’, the women heard motivational speeches from some of Jamaica’s most powerful women, including Donna Duncan Scott, group executive director at JMMB; cardiologist at Heart Smart Jamaica Claudine Lewis; head of marketing and corporate communications, Trade Winds Citrus Limited, Marsha Lumley; Naomi Francis, press secretary at the Office of the Prime Minister; Catherine Goodhall, marketing manager, beverages, LASCO; Janice Allen, regional director at the Jamaica Tourist Board; Justice Sonia Bertram Linton, judge of the Supreme Court of Jamaica; and Superintendent of Police and Attorney-at-Law Gladys Brown.

The speakers, some of whom were victims of abuse, connected with the audience and encouraged healing as this rhetoric resonated with a majority of the women who themselves had suffered abuse.

“It’s really interesting to know what some people have gone through. You see them all over but you never really know what somebody has experienced,” said Janelle Smith. “Especially these women who are so big in society. I am very surprised at some of these stories and to see what they have done with them.”

In keeping with the theme, the women were also encouraged to rise above the fray, persevere despite their obstacles, think differently, and visualise what they wanted to achieve in life. They were also encouraged to embrace themselves as they are and stand in power, despite their struggles and pain.

“No bother mek no dibby dibby boy or man come beat beat you up. Fight your way out of it because you are God’s creation and we were made for love — not to be kicked and boxed like football,” Superintendent Brown encouraged in her riveting address that often saw many in the audience on their feet.

The brainchild of Cortia Bingham McKenzie, who also told her story about being abused, the workshop was deemed a success as the women expressed satisfaction that their “money was well spent”.

“This was a really good conference. I will definitely make it back whenever they have it again,” a woman who identified herself as Jody noted.

“I was supposed to be here last year and I couldn’t make it because I had camp and trust me, this was an amazing workshop for me. I really needed this, for this point in my life,” she added.

“I am truly glad I came,” her friend chimed in.

First-timer Joanna Scott was moved by the openness of the speakers and the inspirational and encouraging points they shared with the audience.

“I was planning on leaving early. I really had not planned to stay till the end but I am truly glad I stayed. I feel energised to do what I have to do now,” Scott told the Jamaica Observer.

In addition to motivation through the spoken word, the women were inspired by reggae gospel artiste Kevin Downswell who encouraged them in his well-received performance to find their strength in the Lord and praise until they receive their breakthrough.

Today, in a follow-up to yesterday, the women will meet at the Jamaica Pegasus for brunch and a second round of motivation and empowerment.