The Business and Professional Women’s Club of the Cayman Islands kicked off its 30th anniversary with an evening social hosted by President Annie Wulton recently; the first of a number of events over the coming months marking the club’s enduring presence in the Cayman Islands.
‘We all work hard at our jobs and our roles with the club, so it’s great that we had this opportunity to enjoy each other’s company and see our colleagues in a social setting,’ said Ms Wulton.
The Cayman Islands branch of the international organization was formed on 2 August, 1976, with the aim to promote the advancement and cooperation between business and professional women with a focus on service, responsibility, education, and training.
The club’s first elections in 1977 saw Angela Martins, now Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education, Training, Employment, Youth and Culture as the Club’s first president and Adrianne Webb, the first woman called to the bar in the Cayman Islands, elected as the first VP.
National Hero Sybil McLaughlin, Marjorie Piercy and Mrs Evelyn Andresen, were also elected to the board and Corrinne Thompson, Eva Duval and Joan Gilman were admitted as members.
A sister club was later formed in Cayman Brac, where Wanda Tibbetts became the first president.
An enduring legacy of the club is the Corrine Thompson Memorial Scholarship. She was the club’s second VP. It was first awarded to MLA Juliana O’Connor Connolly, who received a four-year scholarship for overseas study.
The club members have engaged in several charitable and community outreach activities over the years, as well as donating items such as a Muscle Stimulant Machine for the Physiotherapy Unit of the George Town Hospital, and books and a newspaper rack for the George Town Library.
Another growing aspect of the BPW club is its 33-member junior branch, the Young Business and Professional Women’s Club, which was spearheaded by the late Joy Ann Rollings.
Members are engaged in lobbying activities related to new legislation on stalking and sexual harassment.
The initiative reflects the focus of many of the BPW activities which is women’s safety and ending domestic violence.
‘I think our work on violence against women is the thing I’m most proud of, and the thing that keeps us going strong,’ said past President Karen Bodden.
The BPW, along with The Rotary Club and the Family Services Unit, assisted in opening the Island’s first crisis centre for women leaving an abusive situation in need of shelter.
The BPW also assisted in establishing the Women’s Resource Center, which evolved from the Women’s Desk with support from members of Parliament and Past Presidents Burna Thompson and Edna Moyle.
The BPW also established the Legal Befrienders service, which evolved from a telephone help-line for victims of domestic violence to a current network of 15 practicing attorneys who volunteer their services on a rotational basis through the Women’s Resource Center.
An annual event the BPW holds to raise awareness of the issue and to acknowledge victims is the Silent Witness March. The event was initiated by past President Joy Basdeo and first held on Island 18 October, 1998.
The club also bestows the Cayman Islands Woman of the Year Award. This year’s honoree was House Speaker Mrs. Edna Moyle. Past recipients of this award include Ms. Annie Huldah Bodden, the first woman elected to Parliament, lawyer Karin Thompson, civil servant Olive Miller, and Sybil McLaughlin.
The BPW Club meets every third Monday at 5:30pm at The Women’s Resource Center, Elizabethan Square.
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