BPW International North American & Caribbean Regional Congress

The North American and Caribbean Regional Congress of Business and Professional Women International (BPW) was held at the Sheraton Hotel and Conference Center in San Juan, Puerto Rico on April 26-28.   Founded in 1930, BPW has a membership in nearly 100 countries. It is an NGO with consultative status in the United Nations and represents women in the workplace, market-place and community through government advocacy, networking and education.


The Congress, themed “Empowerment to Lead: Raising the Bar,” offered members training and presentations on operational governance, BPW’s supported initiatives, the International Trade Center, and the Commonwealth Business Women’s Council.

The meeting of Young BPW North America members from throughout the Region, championing issues of concern to women under 35, made recommendations of programs to promote the advancement of young leaders in positions of power and influence from local to national to international.


Dignitaries present included the BPW International President, Freda Miriklis of Australia;  Jill Worobec, 2nd Vice-President from Canada; Yasmine Darwich, BPW Executive Secretary; Anastasia Victoria Safarian, Young BPW International Representative from USA; North America & Caribbean Regional Coordinator, Bessie Hironimus of the USA; Elizabeth Benham, immediate past international president from New York; Yvette Swan, past international president from Bermuda; Tuulikki Juusela, past international president from Finland; Eufemia Ippolito, President of the Italian Federation; Doris Hall, International Congress Ambassador; and club members from Canada, United States, Mexico, Barbados, Bermuda, Haiti, Cayman Islands, Netherlands Antilles, St. Kitts, Trinidad, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Maarten, and British Virgin Islands.  

Other guests attending included: Arif Zaman, Advisor to the Commonwealth Business Council and an integral coordinator of the growing Commonwealth Businesswomen Network from London, UK; and Dee Schneider, Operations and Talent Director of Deloitte’s Caribbean and Bermuda Cluster; and Sarah Louden, President of Caribbean Oncology Associates, an extraordinary young woman entrepreneur who in just five years, grew a business from start-up to millions in annual sales.

For more information about BPW in Puerto Rico, contact Jennifer Tiller at jtinpr@gmail.com.

To learn more about BPW refer to: website www.bpw-international.org



Getting Ready for Jeju!

by Anne Hilty, BPW International Congress Coordinator

Spring, glorious spring, has come to Jeju Island, bringing with it a reminder: the 28th BPW International Congress will be held on Jeju just one year from now!

BPW Korea Federation, in its Host Planning Committee, is busy preparing to host the Congress: International Convention Center Jeju will be our beautiful seaside venue, Hyatt Jeju our HQ Hotel (many other hotel options as well), the Congress website will be launched on May 25, and  Registration will open on September 1! We have selected Congress Ambassadors from every region, who in May will begin representing the Congress and promoting members’ attendance.

International Convention Center Jeju - from SeaThe International Planning committee is now preparing the program, and have invited UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, UN Women’s anticipated new Executive Director (in the wake of Michelle Bachelet’s departure), UN Global Compact Executive Director Georg Kell, and UNDP Administrator Helen Clark, with many more high-level invitations going out shortly. As always, representatives of our partner organizations are expected to join us, to include, in addition to those above, World Bank, International Organisation of Employers, International Trade Centre, WEConnect, Commonwealth Business Women, and more.

600-36President Freda will return to Jeju at the end of next month, as a keynote speaker of the Jeju Forum for Peace and Prosperity, a noted annual event with 3000+ in attendance. Her session, which will lead the 3-day Forum, is entitled, “21st Century: ‘Asian Century’, ‘Women’s Century’: Achieving Full Economic Potential Through Gender Equality;” H.E. LU Hsiu-lien (Annette), former vice president of Taiwan and BPW Goodwill Ambassador, will join this session as President Freda’s dialogue partner. President Freda’s itinerary during this Forum is filled with exciting events, and we will regularly update the Congress website about each of them!

046-새섬Jeju Island, site of our 2014 Congress, is one of the more remarkable places on earth, and you owe it to yourself to enjoy the wonderful Congress with your BPW sisters in this glorious setting!

Jeju … Island of Women, with its famed “Strong Jeju Women,” “Asian Amazons,” rich goddess mythology, 18th century heroine Kim Mandeok (first female ‘CEO’ in Korea, and life-saving philanthropist) and the free-diving women known as “hae-nyeo;”

Jeju … Island of Nature, the only place in the world to receive UNESCO recognition in all 3 Natural Science Categories: Biosphere, World Natural Heritage, and Global Geoparks … and, chosen one of the world’s “New 7 Wonders of Nature;”

Jeju … Island of Peace, with a history of hardship and trauma, and a dedication to healing and to discovering peaceful solutions to the world’s conflicts;

Jeju … Island of Longevity, known for more than 2000 years for its remarkably long-lived people, where elders continue to work, contribute, remain independent, and retain a sense of purpose well into their advanced years;

Jeju … Island of Eco-Culture, where cutting-edge smart grid technology, renewable energy, waste management, and carbon-free practices are being researched and implemented in balance with the preservation of nature and traditional culture – where people and nature harmoniously co-exist;

Jeju … Island of Love, long the honeymoon destination for mainland Koreans, now sought after by lovers – of romance, of nature, of healing and well-being, of women’s culture, of prosperity – from around the world.

200-10Come to the 28th BPW International Congress! Come to Jeju – the experience of a lifetime!


Alicia Curtis, Inaugural Winner of the Isolde Fritsch-Albert Prize

Alicia CurtisAlicia Curtis, BPW Australia

Inaugural Winner of the Young BPW International Prize for Excellent Professional Performance known as the Isolde Fritsch-Albert Prize.

Alicia Curtis has been a BPW member for 8.5 years. She has served in many roles including State Development Officer and National Young BPW Director. She authored the BPW Keys to Achievement program, which has now been implemented in other countries too.

What is the Isolde Fritsch-Albert Prize?

It’s a new award established by Isolde Fritsch-Albert and club members from BPW Ticino, Switzerland, in a commitment to support Young BPW worldwide.  The Prize offers an annual 5000 Euro Prize recognising a Young BPW member for excellent professional performance. While attending a European BPW meeting, Isolde Fritsch-Albert observed there were so many impressive young women and limited opportunities for them to be recognised and rewarded with a cash prize to assist them in the early stages of their career.  Isolde hopes the 5000 Euro cash prize will help a Young BPW member in their career development. 

Do you want any plans yet for the cash prize?

I would really like to put the money towards licensing my Young Women’s Leadership Program. It’s become a very successful program and I would like to expand the program to other organizations and hopefully run it through a team of facilitators in other States across Australia and maybe the world!

Any other comments?

I just want to say thanks to BPW Australia and all the members for all their support, I have gained so many amazing opportunities through BPW to attend and speak at international and national conferences, access mentors and contribute to important women’s issues. I’ve received about 30 congratulatory messages after the announcement of this award from members from every state in Australia!  I very much appreciate all your support.

HelenMortonLetterAlicia’s Biography

For the past 11 years, Alicia Curtis has managed her own leadership training consultancy. Described as a dynamic presenter, Alicia has inspired thousands of young people to develop their leadership skills and give back to their community.  She has led the development of many successful conferences and programs including the Young Women’s Leadership Program and currently the Engaging Young Leaders on Aged Care Boards program.  

Her personal leadership journey started very early on attending the first International Children’s Conference on the Environment hosted by the United Nations at 12 years old. She went on to co­‐found her own Children’s Conference called Kids Helping Kids with three friends. This is an organisation that still exists today as Millennium Kids.Alicia has continued her volunteering since she was a teenager and given back to many organizations such as BPW Australia, National Speakers Association and Millennium Kids.

She is the founder of Emergen (www.emergen.com.au), a leading online community of young emerging leaders. Alicia also writes an inspirational blog called Revolutionary Lives (www.revolutionarylives.com), inspiring others to live their best life and contribute to positive change in their community.

Call for applications: Peace Action FREE online course: April 29 – June 2, 2013

Institute for Peace and Harmonious Development (IPHD) calls for application for Peace Activism FREE online course

Course duration: 5 weeks – April 29 – June 2, 2013

Group size: 20 persons.

About IPHD

Institute for Peace and Harmonious Development (IPHD) aims to enhance peace values; to develop innovative strategies that will help refugees and conflict-affected societies in recovery; increase participation of youth and other vulnerable groups in peace building.

IPHD implements educational activities – organizes trainings and debates for various focus groups: local schools, youth centers and groups. Seminar topics include civil activism, conflict resolution, non-violence tactics, new technologies in peace building.

About the Course

Peace Action free online course aims to enhance knowledge of the students about understanding of peace; help them to define aims and objectives of the activity; to identify key players in the peace-building and use effective tactics for change-making. The course introduces non-violent methods that may be used in planning and implementation of the organization’s strategies and make higher impact on the society.

Who can apply:

The course is open for the representatives of non-governmental organizations, media, civil activists, community leaders, students and other persons who are interested in peace-building; who are ready to carry out concrete actions and become change-makers in their communities.

20 participants, aged 18-35 will be selected for this course. They should attend all sessions and complete all tasks in order to get certificate of completion. They should have at least 2 hours Internet access per week.

How to apply:

Please submit online application till April 21, 2013

Time in New York

It is now 3 weeks since I returned home from New York, from the BPW International Leadership Summit and CSW57. This whole trip was an eye opener for me. To be part of such an event, to meet all of these wonderful BPW leaders around the world and all the activists at the United Nations.  I must admit, I often found myself thinking how little I know and how long the journey we as young BPW members have ahead of us if we want to rise and learn more inside our organization locally and internationally.

I got to NYC on 27th of February and already on the next evening we had a Girls Night out with Young EPW girls! On my way there, I met BPW ladies at the lobby of our hotel and got them also to join me. So there we were, eating and laughing and getting to know each other already before all the official program.

The 5th Annual International BPW Leadership Summit was a great example of how we could and should get together, discuss the issues on our mind and share our best practices. As I am a newcomer at international BPW events (my first international event I participated was in Helsinki in 2011, Sorrento and Tallinn after that, next in Brussels on May 3rd), the Leadership Summit made me see understand that it is not “they there.. the international board and we here…locally in our country!” We are all the same, we just live in different parts of the world. I got e better understanding of what and how BPW works with the issues of women´s empowerment together with UN, but there is still much to learn.

After the Leadership Summit, I participated in NGO CSW Consultation Day on March 3rd. The issues that were discussed there were “Trafficking of Women and Girls, The Role of Men, Best Practices to Prevent Violence Against Women and Girls and Training in Communications and Social Media.

The main underlying point from the NGO CSW Consultation Day day followed me to CSW57 where in different panels that I participated, speakers pointed out the fact that we as NGO´s, as women and as responsible people need to attach also men to the work we try to do. Children should be taught, starting from daycare, to respect our differences and learn to understand what is right and what is wrong. My job here is at least to raise my two little boys to respect all the people no matter what sex they are, whether are they old or young, Europeans or Asians etc.

I had the chance to participate in these following panels and conversations at the UN:

  1. Women´s economic empowerment as a tool for combating and eliminating violence against women – The main thought: Economic empowerment is the tool to access economic and financial resources. Entrepreneurship, training and support systems provide better self-esteem, sustainable income, financial independence and self-fulfillment and through all of that women standing up for themselves. Global problems need global collaboration and collaboration between NGO´s and governments.
  2. Situation in Mali – This panel was held in French and as I don´t speak it, it was a bit difficult for me to follow, but luckily I had Johanna from Germany with me and she translated for me the main points. The women’s situation in Mali and Congo is devastating. Women are raped on their way to buy food for their children or while they are away buying for their family, little girls are raped at their own homes. Genital mutilations, killings and so on. We were shown photos and videos… It didn´t need to be translated.. the whole room was shocked. It was sad to listen and to see how sick the world can be.
  3. Social Control as a means of violence against women and girls. When traditional gender stereotypes become a straitjacket for young girls and boys. – If violence exists, some of the girls but also boys might not even understand that what they experience is not normal or isn’t acceptable. The way young girls might see themselves and each other when seeing all the fine models on the commercials or young boys to think that showing their masculinity physically against others is power and part of being a man. Babies are gendered from the moment they are born and this is what we adults do. Also at this panel was underlined the fact that men need to be involved in what we do and children need to be educated to separate the right from the wrong.
  4. Prevention of violence against women and girls. Conference room 2. This panel was a panel for official delegates, but myself and Brenda from Australia just walked in and sat down like we belonged there. I found my old school mate Liina Kanter, head of Gender Equality Department  at Estonian Ministry of Social Affairs,  to be one of the speakers. We hadn´t met after year 1998 and now we shared our contact information in United Nations.. that was weird! 🙂  She brought up the fact that often women don´t even understand the role and importance of violence against women. This panel also brought up the issue of economic empowerment, the importance of education of women, for girls finally to say NO to the different level of tyranny they suffer from.
  5. On March 7th I attended our own BPW organized panel of  Violence Against Women in the Workplace. I was glad to find it of interest to many women as the room was full of listeners, every continent was represented and people were sitting even on the floor as all the seats were taken! Great job!

Beside all of the official and serious events we also had a good time all together!

Dinners and receptions were wonderful! Thank you so much for all the organizers! I had lovely time with you! And oh… I LOVE NYC!!

I found myself being one of three or four young BPW members to participate. I understand that the whole trip to NY would have been very, very expensive and therefore I must thank BPW Finland and our wonderful Tuulikki to give me a good kick and make it possible for me to participate!

Thank you also for accepting me to be part of the D20 group! This was the event I will never forget and I wish I can share my experience with as many BPW members as possible here in Finland and also internationally!

With all the best,



Ketlin Tackman

BPW Finland, Member of National Board 2013-2015

Young BPW Finland Representative