About Women and Opportunity 2009 Conference (Curacao)

Date: Friday and Saturday March 6 & 7, 2009
Location: International Trade Center Curaçao, Curaçao, Dutch Antilles
Conference Organizer: Reyna Joe / BISInc
Conference advisor: Norma Angel MM

ABOUT WOMEN and Opportunity

The 2009 Conference About Women and Opportunity is a conference on opportunity in the lives of women and how women are programmed to deal with opportunities. This conference aims to focus on how women recognize opportunity, how they use and benefit from great opportunities and think about how to deal with opportunities in all aspects of lives.

Asking women what ‘opportunity’ means to them, they often refer to work opportunities: a good job, a career, to earn your own money, to be independent. But there is more in life for women to make them feel good and successful. Women also want a family life, partner, children, good relation- and friendships. Women wants to love and be loved, to take care, to be creative, to be beautiful, nice, intelligent, to have fun, to travel, to communicate etc. Is this ‘opportunity’ or just an idealized image?

The definition describes ‘Opportunity’ as a favourable chance or opening offered by circumstances or a favourable or advantageous circumstance of combination of circumstances. It is a chance for progress or advancement’.

So opportunity is a given chance, that is created by circumstances and that brings about growth and improvement. Opportunity can arise by accident or through luck. But to sit and wait for sudden luck or good luck to arrive is not the best way to discover the opportunities in your life. As Eleanor Roosevelt said: "If you prepare yourself . . . you will be able to grasp opportunity for broader experience when it appears”.

‘To prepare yourself’ means to be alert, to know what you want, what is good for you, for others, for a better world and how to reach your aims and goals. But the concerns and complexity of daily life and relationships withhold women in recognising and developing their opportunities, talents and creativity. Women still carry the bulk of all care responsibilities and (unpaid) work at home. Women’s work days are longer than men’s, especially when young children are in the household. This has an impact on women’s work patterns and limits their opportunities to take occupations that are comparable to the average occupations of men.

Mothers spent on average 11 hours less per week in gainful employment than fathers. The same mothers devote daily between 5½ and 7½ hours to parental and domestic tasks. According to the United Nations, in no country in the world men come anywhere close to women in the amount of time spent in housework. Women do two-thirds of the world’s work, receive 10 percent of the world’s income and own 1 percent of the means of production. Women produce 75 to 90 percent of food crops in the world and are at the same time responsible for the running of households.

Women are increasingly breaking into male domains, such as mathematics, science and civil engineering, on average, female study choices still show traditional gender stereotyped patterns, and are often neglecting the chances of more future-oriented studies in science or ICT. Women are over-represented in part-time work and have fewer opportunities for training and career progression, lower salary levels and reduced access to supplementary payments and social protection benefits.

Significantly fewer women than men have jobs with supervisory responsibilities. Within enterprises, women account for only 32% of managers. Furthermore women are largely under-represented in positions of authority and responsibility: only 10% of board members and 3% of CEOs of the larger companies are women.

The unemployment rate remains higher for women than for men and two out of every three poor adults are women, which is called the “feminization of poverty.

But the problems women are constantly facing, are also ‘challenges’ to seek for creative solutions and opportunities for growth and advancement. And women are very creative! The 2009 Conference About Women and Opportunity is a platform for women to discuss the creative solutions they have found to discover and benefit from the opportunities in their daily lives.

January, 2009
Joyce van Genderen-Naar

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