Club advocates for local women in business

For more than 40 years, the Business and Professional Women’s Club of Grand Cayman has been working to create a better environment for local women and future members of the workforce.

The group has aided in establishing the Cayman Islands Crisis Centre and staging the annual Silent Witness March, and it has also set up a college scholarship for local women with a demonstrated financial need.

The organization, which began in 1976, is a part of the International Federation of Business and Professional Women, which has affiliates in 95 countries on five continents that have collectively aided more than 45,000 women in the workforce since 1996.

Some of those women were helped in re-entering the workforce. Others received assistance in starting up or advancing their own business. BPW has worked to help protect women’s rights and to build a nurturing environment for women’s professional development in several different industries.

Paola Juarez-Robinson, president of the Business and Professional Women’s Club of Grand Cayman, said the group is in the midst of several projects.

The group recently held its Fashion Forward fundraiser at Royal Palms in support of the Corinne Thompson Memorial Scholarship. The award, named after the organization’s Second Vice President, is a two-year, $2,000 grant open to women aged 18-35 attending the University College of the Cayman Islands or the International College of the Cayman Islands. The scholarship’s first recipient was current Minister for Education Juliana O’Connor-Connolly.

Mrs. Juarez-Robinson said the organization often quotes an old African proverb: “If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

The group advocates for better conditions for women both in the workplace and away from the office. In addition to the Crisis Centre, the BPW was instrumental in bringing the Legal Befrienders Programme to Cayman and in lobbying the government to pass domestic violence laws in 1992 and anti-stalking legislation in 2014.

The local chapter of BPW also sponsors the Product of the Year for Junior Achievers Cayman, working to inspire the next generation of minds who will mold Cayman’s future industries.

BPW of Grand Cayman is also participating in activities that further Sustainable Development Goals put forward by the United Nations. Its members participated in Cayman’s Earth Day Clean-up by picking trash up off the South Sound beaches. BPW of Grand Cayman has also developed a partnership with the Alex Panton Foundation to expand mental health services for youth in Cayman.

The group’s lecture series, established in 2001, seeks to educate and empower individuals for the betterment of the Cayman Islands. It is named for Annie Huldah Bodden, who was the first female elected member of the Legislative Assembly.