The Ministry of Social Development and Sports and the Human Rights Commission co-hosted an International Women’s Day Breakfast Conversation Panel on Thursday, March 8, 2018, featuring six female entrepreneurs who, along with the audience, considered various questions including barriers of achieving gender equity.

One of the event organizers, Jane Brett, Project Coordinator at the Ministry, said: “Despite the diversity of professions represented, several similar themes emerged including the power of following one’s passion and being your own brand, resourcefulness, fostering confidence, seeking help from the right advisers, staying patient and disciplined and pursuing training when necessary.

“The talent and contribution reflected in the six panelists represents the extraordinary pool of female entrepreneurs on the island, which compliments and strengthens Bermuda’s development. 

“It is clear that work remains to be done to ensure our young people – boys and girls – can listen to their voice, pursue their passion, and find an educational and economic environment that values and supports the entrepreneurial spirit, and its essential contribution to the health and wellbeing of Bermuda.”

A Ministry spokesperson added: “March 8th is a day celebrated and supported globally by industry, governments, educational institutions, community groups, professional associations, women’s networks, charities and non-profit bodies, the media and more.

“It celebrates the economic, political and social achievements of women, past and present. It is an occasion for looking back on past struggles and accomplishments and more importantly, looking ahead to the future.

“The International Women’s Day (IWD) has its roots in the socialist movements of the early 20th Century when women were campaigning for the right to vote. The oppression of women and the persistent inequalities led women to become more vocal and active in campaigning for change. 

“For decades the celebration of IWD has gone from strength to strength and in some countries such as Russia, Uganda & Vietnam it is a national holiday.

“IWD provides an important platform to empower women, launch new initiatives and action, celebrate women’s achievements and raise awareness,” she added.

“Locally, progress has been made towards achieving equality between men and women. Last year, on March 16th, 2017, the UN Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women – or ‘CEDAW – was extended to Bermuda.

“CEDAW, often known as a ‘Bill of Rights’ for women is one of the core human rights international treaties that requires conountries to eliminate discrimination against women and sets out a comprehensive framework for tackling gender equality.

“With the extension of the Convention, Bermuda is now legally obligated to work towards implementing  CEDAW’s provisions and committed to monitoring and reporting on measures taken to comply with treaty obligations.

The feature panelists included:

  • Sharon Bartrum, owner of 27th Century Boutique, has 43 years of experience in the fashion business. Ms Bartrum says she proudly hires locals and encourages young people to pursue a career in retail.
  • Cheryl Kerr, also known as ‘Sistah Sauté, owns and operates Personally Yours Catering. She is the author of the vegetarian cookbook entitled SOUL FOOD with ‘Sistah Sauté’, which is in its third printing.
  • Alison Morrison, Managing Director of Oyster Consulting (Bermuda) Ltd, started her career in the financial services industry in 1986 and decided to establish Oyster Consulting in 2012. She says she enjoys mentoring young girls.
  • Mandy Smith is an entrepreneur who launched Swimming Instinct, a ‘learn to swim’ program for students aged 3 to 12 years, which allows her to set her own schedule.
  • Jenny Smatt is the President and Senior Consultant of ONTRU and has over 15 years’ experience locally and internationally in strategic planning, human resource management, training and development and business process redesign in Bermuda, Europe and the Americas.
  • Kristin White is the owner of Long Story Short, a retail store, tour operator for Haunted History Bermuda.
  • Photos Courtesy of DCI