Breaking the bias was the theme under which Antigua and Barbuda-based CIBC FirstCaribbean celebrated three female farmers yesterday on International Women’s Day (IWD).
The women were each awarded $5,000 during a short ceremony where Minister of Agriculture Samantha Marshall was also in attendance, a release from the bank said.
CIBC’s Country Head, Ladesa James-Williams, said that the financial institution based its decision on an explanation of the theme on the official IWD website: “Imagine a gender equal world. A world free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination. A world that’s diverse, equitable and inclusive. A world where difference is valued and celebrated. Together we can forge women’s equality. Collectively we can all #Break the bias. Celebrate women’s achievement. Raise awareness against bias. Take action for equality.”
She said that due to Covid, food production and food security have become more important and the female farmers are playing a leading role in increasing production.
“So, as we celebrate International Women’s Day, CIBC FirstCaribbean is honoured and privileged to be able to present $5,000 each to three of our top female farmers — Katyann Burnette, a poultry farmer, Erica Phillip, a crop farmer, and Slyveneta Charles, a beekeeper.
“We trust that these funds will assist them as they continue to work for the benefit of all of us. It is even more commendable that our poultry farmer, Katyann, is just 19 years old. Congratulations.”
Minister Marshall congratulated the bank for recognising the importance of food production and security and for recognising the role being played by female farmers.
“As we observe International Women’s Day, CIBC FirstCaribbean is true to the theme – #Break the bias, by rewarding and recognising our hard-working and dedicated female farmers. Hopefully, this will serve to inspire others,” she said.
In responding, Phillip thanked the bank and said that the funds will assist her to expand her farm. She currently grows cassava, papaya, pumpkins, sorrel in season, and lemons, and she is hoping to add more fruit crops.
Charles also expressed thanks as she noted that beekeeping is growing in leaps and bounds in Antigua.
“We received funding from Integrated Health Outreach and the Beekeepers Association and was able to host two workshops. The first one graduated 29 women and the current one, which is ongoing, will graduate a further 31 potential beekeepers,” she said.
Burnette, who was also thankful for the monetary donation, noted that while she is only rearing layers at the moment, she hopes to add broilers or meat birds.
Staff of CIBC FirstCaribbean will tour Eric Phillip’s crop farm at Orange Valley on Thursday to get hands-on experience of farming.