Basseterre, St. Kitts, September 1, 2022 (SKNIS): The launch of the Girls Empowerment Movement and Sisterhood (GEMS) Programme will help to ensure that at-risk girls across St. Kitts and Nevis can grow and develop with guidance from knowledgeable and caring individuals.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Social Development and Gender Affairs, the Honourable Dr. Geoffrey Hanley, fully endorsed the establishment and aims of the GEMS programme during a launching ceremony on Wednesday (August 31, 2022) at the Lodge Community Centre.
“I am excited because today, we provide another opportunity for the youth of our Federation, specifically our girls, to safely grow,” said Deputy Prime Minister Hanley. He added that the “GEMS programme focuses on assisting girls to embrace the journey of self-discovery by providing empowerment, encouragement, structure and support which enables girls to make wiser decisions to aid in the transition to womanhood.”
Dr. Hanley highlighted the value of mentorship, expressing that it played a pivotal role in shaping his character when he was younger. He noted that the programme’s theme: ‘Girls Under Construction – Building a Firm Foundation for a Stronger Future,’ is quite fitting given its goals.
“The foundation of our Federation’s people is one which needs a tried-and-true combination to withstand the trials and tribulations of life and the world we live in. For any of us who have built a house, we know that to get a solid foundation it requires a concrete mix of a certain strength, steel, dirt, blocks, board for framing and good weather to cure it all and have it set,” the Deputy Prime Minister said. “What then for this Federation is the combination for the foundation of our lives? As we celebrate 39 years of independent rule, I feel that it is time for us to clearly articulate … the components of this foundation – faith, civility, social graces, national pride – and then [implement] programmes based on these components.”
Honourable Dr. Hanley said that he was looking forward to seeing the fruits of the programme and encouraged all stakeholders to support the GEMS programme and other initiatives under the continued rollout of the National Gender Equality Policy and Plan of Action.
Heartfelt commendations were expressed to Kasandra Bedford, the author of GEMS, and the team at the Ministry of Social Development and Gender Affairs for implementing the programme. The mentors and young people to be mentored were also saluted for embracing this new venture.