Exposure Equals Empowerment: Meet Youth Leader Bernice Antoine
Photo/Courtesy of Bernice Antoine
Trinidadian, Bernice Antoine has gained exposure to a vast range of opportunities that may ultimately lead to empowerment. This includes exposure to major stakeholders and policy leaders in her country. Subsequently, her name has become synonymous with youth leadership.
The 19-year-old youth ambassador serves as a role model for youth in her quest to promote sustainable solutions for people in the Caribbean. She is adamant in her belief that many societal ills, including gender bias, disenfranchisement, and violence may be solved in her lifetime.
Some people however argue that issues surrounding this conundrum are daunting and unachievable. Notwithstanding these naysayers, Antoine believes that the quandaries indeed have resolutions. Furthermore, she argues the goals are attainable. Her primary panacea for these seemingly unsurmountable problems is simple. Advocacy and activism. Her ideologies incorporate and provide strategic plans for professional advancement, personal growth, and leadership training.
Subsequently, advocating for the rights of females, particularly young women in the Caribbean is a goal that Antoine finds achievable. Despite her young age and limited formal experience, Antoine brings fresh perspectives and energy to multi-faceted situations which engulf women’s rights and gender equality. She currently serves in leadership positions in every organization in which she is a member including Director of Policy and Advocacy, Willow Foundation; Co-Chair, Youth Advisory Group of The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), and the Operations Officer of the Trinidad and Tobago Youth Advocacy Network.
Bernice’s exposure to numerous organizations led to government and corporate recognition. She is recognized as one of the most powerful voices for the youth sector in Trinidad. Her straightforward ideas may prove to be doable. More importantly, they may produce positive results.
For example, her framework for strengthening personal infrastructure for the female population in Trinidad is the acceleration of ‘voice.’ Her philosophy aligns with other groups to highlight widespread gender prejudices, excite public curiosity, and stimulate discussion. In particular, she believes it significant to deconstruct the age-old adage that girls “should be seen and not heard.” Antoine continued, “Young girls must have confidence and speak out.”
Of course, this simple plan of action involves a more complicated organizational structure. It is important, for instance, to ensure that women occupy 'safe-space' environments coupled with repetitive affirmative messages and actions that instill confidence and self-worth. Antoine states that “It is important that young girls be told [repeatedly and constantly] that ‘you are special’ by their parents and teachers.” She argues that her plan is to change the narrative so that Caribbean women may eradicate negative attitudes and create positive images.