WEDNESDAY WOMAN: Power to Caribbean women
HARRIETTE SKEETE is turning her fear into power.
She has launched International Women of Power with the aim of helping local and Caribbean women reach their full potential.
Skeete said the organisation was birthed out of her struggle to realise her own goals. When she decided last year that she wanted to host a conference featuring American motivational speaker Les Browne, she realised she was being overtaken by self-doubt.
“I had the idea, but there was this voice in the back of my mind that I could not do it,” she told the MIDWEEK NATION. “Those fears consumed me; I am nobody, I don’t have the resources, I do not have the education, I do not come from the right family, people will see my name and say, ‘wait she play she want to hold a conference’.”
When the conference did not materialise, she concluded that a negative mindset was instrumental in her failure. Perhaps, she also said, she did not put in enough work, or was going too big in her first effort. It was then that she decided to muster all her strength and work harder towards realising her dreams of being a motivational speaker.
“I have always wanted to help and inspire others through coaching,” Skeete said. “I was always one to give advice and people called on me – friends, family – but I never put a name to it.”
The former on-air radio personality said she always dreamed of doing something formally because people just called and spewed because it was a stranger on the other line.
With the idea in mind, Skeete said she realised she did not have the skills and set about on a journey of self-improvement. She joined Toastmasters Club, worked in marketing and tried to grow her professional network on the way to becoming a John Maxwell-certified speaker, trainer and coach.
Skeete is grateful that she was able to get connected to a veteran who became a mentor and coach and kept her focused.
“When I think of all the excuses that come to mind, they seem so pathetic to say them out loud, like the last time I tried I failed and I don’t know if I can do it,” she said. “I realised that there may be a lot of women out there who go through the same thing and do not have that person to hold their hand through the process.”
She was at that point resolute in her mind that International Women of Power was necessary and that women would benefit from it. The first conference is scheduled for next month and is expected to have some international and Caribbean speakers.
Skeete said she expected all participants to benefit from information on leadership, empowerment and inspiration. They will also be able to network with other women and to take away key actionable steps on how to build their brands and businesses.
The focus will not solely be on women but men are also welcome to participate.
“I do not think a woman can be a woman of power without a man,” she said. “I say that as a married woman, maybe single women will disagree, but the support I get from my husband in those times I cannot put a value price to it.”
She said the organisation was not “a burn-your-bra crusade” or “all the independent women throw your hands up”, but about building interdependency between the man and woman.
International Women of Power will continue to host empowerment conferences and sessions for women and an International Men of Power is also in the works.
“I want to build women, but not to the detriment of our men. I find that in Barbados, actually across the world, men are being left behind and though it is important to empower women who in some parts of the world are in need of liberation, men need to be empowered so that becomes a reality,” she said.