The Women’s Resource Centre, in partnership with the Bermuda International Women’s Day (IWD) Committee, kicked off International Women’s Day 2023 with a networking breakfast and panel discussion on this year’s theme: #EmbraceEquity.

The quickly sold-out breakfast event, held at Pier Six on Front Street, hosted over 250 attendees from a cross-section of the community and began with networking and photos at the
International Women’s Day flower wall.

To commence the event, the Town Crier Ed Christopher introduced the event hostess, Patrina O’Connor Paynter, who welcomed guests, including the
Premier, The Hon. E. David Burt, JP, MP, First Lady Kristin Burt, Deputy Premier, The Hon. Walter Roban, JP, MP, Opposition Leader, The Hon. N. H. Cole Simons, JP, MP, other members
of Parliament, and the US Consul General. Elaine Butterfield, former Director of the Women’s Resource Centre, shared opening remarks.

To officially open the event, there was a ringing of the Bermuda Stock Exchange (BSX) bell for gender equality by Greg Wojciechowski, CEO of the BSX, and First Lady Kristin Burt. Over 122 countries participate in ringing the bell for gender equality. This was a welcomed new addition to the Bermuda International Women’s Day celebrations.

Following the opening, inspirational speaker and award-winning author Christie Hunter Arscott started the discussion with panelists Deshay Caines, Vice President of Social Engagement at
Marsh McLennan; Liana Nanang, Founder & CEO of Unstoried; Marico Thomas, Owner of Thomas United Company Limited/Bermuda Hospitality Group; and Kim Wilkerson, SVP, Head of
Claims, AXAXL, Bermuda. The topic for the panel was ‘On the Rise: Empowering Women to Embrace Equity and Live Boldly Together’ where panelists shared aspects of their lives that are
unfiltered or “Below the Waterline”.

The stories shared had a common theme of being “on the edge” and having to make a bold decision to take the step which led to their ultimate successes. Christie also encouraged women to collectively support one another and create “space” to bring along the next woman who may not otherwise get an equal or equitable chance.

Guests were also shown an inspiring video of Bermudian Paralympian, Jessica Lewis, sharing her story and stating why empowering women and embracing equity is important to her. To conclude the discussion, panelists stated how they would commit to boldly embracing equity  and a challenge was put forward to the audience to take action and do the same.

All attendees received a copy of Mrs. Hunter Arscott’s book, Begin Boldly: How Women Can Reimagine Risk, Embrace Uncertainty & Launch a Brillant Career.
The 2023 International Women of the Year Award was presented to Patrina O’Connor-Paynter, Managing Director of Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) of Bermuda, by the 2022 recipient, Dr.
Carika Weldon. Patrina O’Connor-Payner was recognised for her tireless work in the community as an advocate for women and youth in Bermuda. An emotional Patrina recognised
her mother for her ongoing support through the years and accepted the award in honor of her “Littles” from BBBS.

The event closed with a call to action by the newly appointed Women’s Resource Centre’s Executive Director, Juanae Crockwell, who encouraged both women and men to make room for equity. She also noted that she could not wait to report on the impact of this event next year.

This year’s event was made possible by corporate sponsorships from EY Bermuda, Appleby, Bacardi, Butterfield, Chubb, F&G Life, Fidelity International, Grant Thornton, Hiscox, KPMG in
Bermuda, Rosewood Tucker’s Point & WTW.

Event supporters included Demco Florists, Bermuda Biscuits, Modestique, MKU Creations, Dove and Butterfly, Bermuda Brand Box, TrimiK Sports Apparel, TayGi, Salon Viola, Alchemy Fitness, Inlet Spa, Jamie Madison Collection, Loquat and Honey, LadyMiss Official, and Strange Bird Bermuda, the majority of whom are women-owned enterprises.

All event proceeds go to support the work of the Women’s Resource Centre.

• March 8th marks International Women’s Day – It’s a global day to recognise and celebrate women’s and girls’ social, economic, cultural, and political achievements. It’s also a time to raise awareness of the progress made towards achieving gender equality
and the work remaining to be done.

• Since the first IWD in-person event occurred in 2016 on the steps of City Hall, the IWD Committee has hosted ‘Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step it up for Gender Equality,’ “Be Bold for Change’ in 2017, ‘Press for Progress’ in 2018, ‘Balance for Better’ in 2019, ‘Each for Equal’ in 2020, hosted a virtual event in 2021 – ‘Choose to Challange’ and celebrated back in person with ‘Break the Bias’ in 2022.

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