Celebrating Women’s History Month
To celebrate the end of Women’s History Month, we are showcasing a personal conversation between Programme Manager Naciza Masikini and Community Manager, and young person, Aydan Sobers from Barbados about the role of women and the themes of Women’s History Month 2021 and International Women’s Day: Women in Leadership – achieving an equal future in an COVID-19 world.
Naciza: First of all, could you tell me a little bit about yourself, and how you first got involved with Prince’s Trust International?
Aydan: Sure, but I’m often lost for words if I’m asked to describe myself! I tend to start by talking about my work, because that is a huge part of my life, and represents a large part of me and what I like to do. I’ve loved giving back to people for as long as I can remember, so being involved with a charity as prestigious as PTI and being a Community Manager for Barbados while working on other projects in other sectors is much more than an honour.
I got involved after a very popular DJ and performer in Barbados (they might prefer to stay nameless) posted the opportunity on social media – which shows that it can have its uses! Once I got in touch, I sent over my CV and got an interview the next month!
Naciza: I hear that you’ve got your own podcast and it was recently nominated for an award! Congratulations! How did you get started with it?
Aydan: Thank you so much, I do! I call my podcast my baby because it really is! I’m so happy to see Time Tuh Vent grow each month – in content and audience – because I wanted to create a free and safe space for me to express myself and how I see the world.
Naciza: You started working on Prince’s Trust International’s new digital programme Vibe Check in Barbados. What is the perspective that has given you, particularly as a young person? How would you describe the impact of our programmes?
Aydan: That’s true, I started as a contracted voice actor and editor! The team has always made me feel very welcome, and I found my first few months as a Manager last year really interesting, as I could share my insights on the growth of our programmes and be a real part of their future.
Nothing can express how much I love my job and the work we do. When I hear feedback on how the young people in our programmes have grown, it warms my heart so much. We are making a difference! We work behind the scenes to make sure that the young people we support are in a safe space to grow and flourish, and seeing it come to light is absolutely satisfying for me!
Naciza: What are your plans for the future?
Aydan: I would love to do some segments on radio, and hopefully get a few more international listeners, maybe even sell some merch!
I want to be a black female household name, and for little girls and boys to see me pushing against the grain and feel like they can unapologetically be themselves. I want them to learn and understand that everybody has something important to say.
As a woman, I don’t only want equality, I want respect. That means that you see me as a colleague, someone you can work with and understand, and that you judge me by my work ethic.
Naciza: It’s Women’s History Month! What does this mean to you?
Aydan: It means the most to me – especially as a working woman! I am proud to have a voice to share with you and the world. In a society where women can vote, choose to be single, not have our life defined by kids or marriage, where I can be free with my sexuality. It’s time to pause and be grateful that motherhood is my choice and nobody else’s. It’s my day to celebrate my body and my life.
Naciza: Do you think it has relevance for you and your community (and I mean that in the fullest sense, like your friends your family)?
Aydan: I do, and we often speak about women’s rights and achievements throughout history.
Naciza: The theme of IWD this year was Women in Leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world. This past year COVID has dominated headlines and changed all of our lives. What’s the impact been on you and your community?
Aydan: I’ll try and take those one at a time. Firstly, having women in leadership is a childhood dream – I have always wanted to make a difference – I think one of the reasons my podcast is so important to me is because it means I can add to the voice of change.
For me, it’s Time Tuh Vent, but watching women dominate in traditionally ‘male’ sectors is simply wonderful! But let’s go further, let’s look at female barbers, female plumbers, and female engineers.
Barbados has our first female Prime Minister and by witnessing that, I get to be a part of history and that is inspirational – I can only imagine how many times she’s heard “that can’t happen”, just think of how often little girls have heard “girls can’t do that”.
We get to live in a society where now girls can do that and I am beyond happy to be a part of it.
On COVID-19, it has made us all stop, process our mental health, and also keep ourselves and those around us in check. It has brought to light how important [wellbeing] is, and we’re having conversations that people were ashamed to have before. I think everyone is realising that we [are] all going through this together. We are cut off from family, friends and loved ones, while seeing people on the frontlines risk their lives for our safety. (Thank you all for your service.)
Barbados has our first female Prime Minister and by witnessing that, I get to be a part of history and that is inspirational.
Naciza: Over the last year, I’ve found myself instilled with both a deep sense of grief and a new sense of hope as more young Black women’s voices, like ours, have been given more of a platform. Whether it’s been hearing the tragic stories of Oluwatoyin Salau and Regis Korchinski-Paquet, watching Amanda Gorman speak at the [United States’] Presidential inauguration, or seeing one of my personal heroes Issa Rae continue to make space for Black women in media, it’s definitely been a year of extremes.
Now more than ever, as our generation gets older and more influential, I am even more confident in seeing radical change in our lifetime – and maybe even seeing the end to misogynoir (h/t Trudy @gradient liar).
So, I guess my question is do you think that we can achieve an equal future?
Aydan: I do but I think we still have a long way to go.
Being from the Caribbean, [I believe] there is systematic misogynoir and we are working generation by generation to break those practices. The scale of it compared to the US or UK is vastly different, however; but even though the scales are different, misogynoir is still prevalent. As a woman, I don’t only want equality, I want respect. That means that you see me as a colleague, someone you can work with and understand, and that you judge me by my work ethic. For me, if you only see me as someone to raise a child or as a sexual partner, it means that you don’t see me as a person.
Naciza: What do you think are actions that communities and policy makers can do to get us closer to that today?
Aydan: We have to hold people accountable and end the favouritism of men who assault, rape, and harass women, and reprimand them instead. We often hide the voices of women who have been hurt – and that must stop. We need proper policy that protects the vulnerable and punishes those responsible.
Naciza: What would you like to see us change or improve about our programmes or approach?
Aydan: I’d like us to reach more high school students in Barbados, so we can share our programmes at an earlier age.
Naciza: In Women’s History Month – what is one piece of advice you would like to leave us all with?
My advice is simple; stay true to your morals and never break them for anyone, not for a job, for a significant other or anything!
Take care of yourself and follow your intuition – it’s called female intuition for a reason!