July 26, 2017
From Left K. Bevans, J. Sutherland, Hon. C. Hughes, T. Wankin, A.Sonai, D. Hall
Last Wednesday saw a vibrant and far reaching conversation on Women in ICT, this as the 33rd Annual Conference and Trade Exhibition continued at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Punta Cana Dominican Republic.
The panel entertained questions from the audience and as such was able to address a wide range of issues. The panel included: Karen Bevans, Director, Belize Tourism Bureau; Janice Sutherland, CEO, Antigua and Barbuda and Montserrat, Digicel; Delleriece Hall, Country Manager, FLOW - Turks and Caicos; Anuskha Sonia, CEO, Spang Makandra; and was chaired by the Secretary General of CANTO - Teresa Wankin.
Karen Bevans led the panel with a presentation which looked at the relevance and functionality of ICTs to everyday life as they improve business performance - productivity, profitability; access to services from any location, allow real-time communication, and provide more opportunities for everyone, especially for girls/women. She noted this against the background that ICT was still very male dominated.
Ms. Bevans used her presentation to highlight practical examples in Belize of the positive effects of ICTs in Belize in creating opportunities for women inclusive of tourism, trade, entrepreneurship and online services. She cautioned that the use of ICT can also have negative impacts and that young girls should be careful of what they upload as it can make them vulnerable. In concluding, she stated that: "Women in ICT are still battling gender inequality".
Delleriece Hall made the timely and potent statement that "Once you put your mind to it, go for it. Sky is the limit! I didn't have a background in engineering despite managing others who did. We're all super stars in the Turks and Caicos. I'm the first female CEO of T&C and CWC is 120 years old in T&C."
Anuskha Sonai also offered words of wisdom stating "It's not automatic. You have to speak up for the roles you want in the organization. Support of my family was integral in my nontraditional choice".
Questions which engaged the forum included what are the top three qualities that made you right for the CEO role? Do you see women at the fore of Caribbean ICT or a long way still? Women leading with empathy is seen as chaotic. Thoughts? And Female mentorship is lacking. What are you prepared to do about it? To the last question, the Secretary General excitedly responded: "This forum speaks for itself. Next year expect to see tangible evidence of what we've seen here."
Minister Catherine Hughes, Minister of Public Telecommunications with responsibility for Tourism, Guyana who was in the audience, delivered a vote of thanks to the panel. She underscored the importance of mentorship: "Within CANTO structure, we should create a program to encourage more women to participate in all year round. We are graduating more women in our universities yet women are not being prepared to sit at the table. I compliment all the men that are of great support to their women."
CANTO is the Caribbean's premier telecommunications event for industry professionals, academics and regional governments. The Conference ran from the 16th -19th July, 2017.
CANTO is recognized as the leading trade association of the ICT sector for shaping information and communication in the Caribbean. Founded in 1985 as a non-profit association of 8 telephone operating companies, CANTO has now grown to over 125 members in more than 35 countries. A Board of Directors appointed by the membership directs policy of the Association. This strategy is executed by the staff of a permanent Secretariat based in Trinidad and Tobago