Media Release Courtesy of the Inter-American Cooperation for Agriculture (IICA)
Monday, October 25, 2021 — The founder and Executive Director of Helen’s Daughters, Keithlin Caroo, from Saint Lucia, became the first woman from the Caribbean countries to receive the title of Goodwill Ambassador of the Institute.
The recognition, delivered in a virtual ceremony by the Director General of IICA, Manuel Otero, is based on the work that Caroo has developed through its non-profit organization to promote the socioeconomic development of rural women through agricultural techniques. adaptation, capacity building and access to markets.
Keithlin Caroo said,
“This recognition is still something surreal for me because just 9 months ago I made a decision that would change my life. I left a job that not only gave me financial stability, it was a job that many would consider a dream in the office of the United Nations General Assembly, to return to the activity that my family carried out for generations, agriculture.”
Also participating in the ceremony were the Prime Minister of Saint Lucia, Philip J. Pierre; the Minister of Agriculture, Alfred P. Prospere; the Director General of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), Dr. Didacus Jules, and the former Minister of Government Dr. James Fletcher. They all recognized Caroo’s inspiring and important career path and encouraged her to continue the invaluable work of supporting the development and recognition of rural women and youth in agriculture.
The IICA Goodwill Ambassadors Program is part of an initiative of the inter-American body to face the challenges and opportunities presented by agriculture in the hemisphere, which requires collaborative work with private sector institutions and civil society organizations.
IICA’s Goodwill Ambassadors share concerns and commitments to achieve sustainable and equitable development and are willing to join a cause to raise public awareness and work for development through projects related to food security, the bioeconomy, gender and youth relations, responsible production or climate change, all key issues on IICA’s agenda.
The new Goodwill Ambassador of the IICA said,
“Many times women farmers in the world are undervalued and overlooked due to old perceptions of being only helpers or intermediaries of what men harvest, many times being relegated to the bottom of the value chain and relegating them in access to training, financing and capacity building. The seeds of empowerment in agriculture have the ability to allow women to achieve a reinvigoration of the sector, to become free, and to young people to hold their heads high when choosing to become farmers. Agriculture needs to revamp its image, what we need in the sector is not only limited to providing empowerment, it is about providing adequate capacity development and a support network.”
From her organization, Caroo created the “Ag-cademia de Mujeres Rurales” initiative, a virtual and face-to-face agricultural training program for marginalized rural women that focuses on climate-smart agriculture, agribusiness development and market linkages.
IICA Director General Otero at the ceremony said,
“This is the first time we have given this recognition to a woman from the Caribbean. Helen’s Daughters, an organization led by Keithlin Caroo, has demonstrated its commitment to improving the lives of rural women by providing training, mentoring and support to market their agricultural products through electronic commerce and innovative approaches that contribute to economic empowerment and means of sustainable living.“Keithlin’s work is closely linked to the mission of IICA and we consider her fully worthy of the title of Goodwill Ambassador of IICA. We are committed to working together to implement actions that contribute to agricultural and rural well-being in Saint Lucia, the Caribbean countries, and the Hemisphere.”
For the impact of her work and recognized dedication to rural development, Caroo has been bestowed with several awards including the 2021 Order of Highest Excellence from the British Empire, the third most important British title for humanitarian service providers.