Heading the list was feature speaker Akosua Dardaine-Edwards, founder of the Enabling Enterprise Project, who delivered a down-to-earth and extremely interesting personal story. She got an award for Social Entrepreneur.
Lisa Wickham, media producer, director and TV personality received the Business Pioneer award while Asiya Mohammed, founder and CEO of Conflict Women Ltd, copped the AFETT Young Female Leader prize.
AFETT’s Board Secretary, Elise Farrell, got the Spirit of AFETT award and receiving the award for National Spirit on behalf of Elizabeth Talma- Sankar, who has given service to The Shelter for Battered Women for the past 19 years, was her sister.
Gabriela Siewdhan, who is pursuing a degree in psychology, was the AFETT 2015/2016 awardee.
In her address, Minister of Trade and Industry, Paula Gopee- Scoon said Government attaches significant importance to women and gender affairs as it is a mandate is to spearhead the national portfolio on gender equality and empowerment.
On the role of leadership, she said effective leaders have a clear sense of themselves, their strengths, values, and leadership beliefs that guide them and create a sense of integrity, which impacts their decisions, relationships and overall results.
She then placed emphasis on mentorship and service in public office. She said, “At this time when there is a call for ‘global gender parity’, not enough of us have answered the call to service in public life, in its various platforms and to mentor the young and those in less fortunate circumstances who have not been afforded the opportunities given to us.” Gopee-Scoon told the gathering, including attorney Sharon Rowley, wife of Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, and students from St Stephen’s College, St Joseph’s Convent, Port-of-Spain, Parvati Girls Hindu College, Holy Name Convent, Success Laventille, Moruga, Barataria secondary schools, they can make a difference to change the social landscape.
The Minister urged professional and experienced women to get involved in public life.
“Mentoring and serving are active ways of ensuring parity, diminishing the unjust circumstances brought against our mothers and daughters.
It certainly adds more value than just raising a voice,” she said.
But it was Dardaine- Edwards who had everyone hanging on to her words as she spoke of that time in her life when she lost all material things in her homeland and headed to East Africa to work with 900 women to rebuild Gulu which, at present, has the best agricultural company in East Africa.
“Some days I will be packing maize to sell, some days I will be talking to women, some days I will be saving money, some days I will be on a dirt floor in the village, some days I will go out and get men to bring them into the conversation and some days I will meet with the Prime Minister of Uganda, begging him for electricity for the village,” Dardaine-Edwards recalled.
She said in Trinidad it was easy to do anything she wanted but that is not the case in many of the countries she visited.
And having experienced life in Africa, Dardaine-Edwards she was told to return home and honour her ancestors.
This she did and is now confident about who she is, and advised the young among the audience: “Once you know who you are you will always be fine. So know who you are, have a vision and move towards it.
We are victory of our ancestors. They paved the way for you to be here.” Dardaine-Edwards received a standing ovation after her story