The Star (St. Lucia) - - COMMENT -

Keith­lin Ca­roo, Founder and Pres­i­dent of He­len’s Daugh­ters, has been se­lected to rep­re­sent Saint Lu­cia at the One Young World Sum­mit in The Hague, Nether­lands from Oc­to­ber 1720, 2018.

One Young World (OYW) is an an­nual sum­mit where world lead­ers join the most valu­able young tal­ent from global and na­tional com­pa­nies, non­govern­men­tal or­gan­i­sa­tions, uni­ver­si­ties and other for­ward­think­ing or­gan­i­sa­tions, act­ing as the One Young World Coun­sel­lors. At this sum­mit, del­e­gates de­bate, for­mu­late and share in­no­va­tive so­lu­tions for the press­ing is­sues the world faces. Pre­vi­ous sum­mits have fea­tured Coun­sel­lors such as Kofi An­nan, Meghan Markle, Arch­bishop Des­mond Tutu and Amal Clooney.

Ms. Ca­roo was se­lected for her work in ru­ral women’s eco­nomic em­pow­er­ment through the or­gan­i­sa­tion He­len’s Daugh­ters which is a Saint Lu­cian non-profit with a spe­cial fo­cus on ru­ral women’s eco­nomic devel­op­ment through im­proved mar­ket ac­cess, adap­tive agri­cul­tural tech­niques and ca­pac­ity-build­ing. Guid­ing this or­gan­i­sa­tion’s work is a labour of love she does un­paid on top of jug­gling her full-time job as a desk of­fi­cer in the De­part­ment of Po­lit­i­cal Af­fairs at the United Na­tions.

“While the UN has al­ways been a dream for me,” says Ms. Ca­roo, “that dream is slowly chang­ing. I have found a way to di­rectly im­pact my own coun­try and give back to my an­ces­tors who laid out a foun­da­tion for my achieve­ments. As a grand­child of farm­ers on both sides, He­len’s Daugh­ters, to me, is a trib­ute to their sac­ri­fices and I hope that in the near fu­ture I can re­turn to work on this so­cial en­ter­prise full-time.”

Ms. Ca­roo started He­len’s Daugh­ters in 2016 when she was se­lected as a UN Women Em­power Women Cham­pion for Change Pro­gram. Her or­gan­i­sa­tion hosted a ru­ral women’s work­shop cater­ing to ru­ral women en­gaged in agri­cul­ture, fish­eries, trades and crafts, food pro­cess­ing and mar­ket vend­ing. The work­shop ad­dressed sev­eral is­sues for women busi­ness own­ers such as lead­er­ship devel­op­ment, work­ers’ rights, fi­nan­cial man­age­ment and grants, and in­ter­est-free loan op­por­tu­ni­ties. Since then, He­len’s Daugh­ters has linked up mem­bers with ad­di­tional train­ing and con­sul­ta­tion op­por­tu­ni­ties.

The next large project was with the Univer­sity of Bri­tish Columbia in its first­time of­fer­ing of a Hu­man­i­tar­ian En­gi­neer­ing course which sought real-life prob­lems for en­gi­neer­ing stu­dent teams to ad­dress with tech­ni­cal so­lu­tions. He­len’s Daugh­ters was se­lected as one of three cases and a food-se­cu­rity team or­gan­ised around it. Five chem­i­cal, bi­o­log­i­cal and ge­o­log­i­cal en­gi­neer­ing stu­dents were part­nered with four Saint Lu­cian ru­ral women farm­ers to find sus­tain­able agri­cul­tural prac­tices, de­velop skills such as data man­age­ment and the use of Google Earth, and to come up with tech­ni­cal rec­om­men­da­tions for the sus­tain­able de­sign of a farm.

Cur­rently, Ms. Ca­roo is de­vel­op­ing a so­cial en­ter­prise model that will use in­for­ma­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tion tech­nolo­gies to im­prove knowl­edge, fa­cil­i­tate mar­ket con­nec­tions and im­prove in­comes for ru­ral women farm­ers on the is­land. In ad­di­tion to ca­pac­i­ty­de­vel­op­ment, she has mounted a com­mu­ni­ca­tions strat­egy both on and off­line.

Ms. Ca­roo writes a monthly #HerS­tory se­ries on St. Lu­cia News On­line which pro­files ru­ral women en­trepreneurs and also con­trib­utes to this news­pa­per in her weekly se­ries “The Ru­ral Un­known” which ex­am­ines cli­mate re­silience, agri-tourism link­ages and gen­der equal­ity in the agri­cul­tural sec­tor. (See Land and Con­flict on page 18.)

To learn more about the ini­tia­tive and how to sup­port it, visit the He­len’s Daugh­ters web­site: he­lens­daugh­ters.org. Face­book page: he­lens­daugh­ters.slu, In­sta­gram page: @he­lens­daugh­ters.slu or email: info@he­lens­daugh­ters.org

Keith­lin Ca­roo, a grand­child of farm­ers, pro­motes eco­nomic em­pow­er­ment of ru­ral women.

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