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Charlotte Amalie
Thursday, July 18, 2024


Organizers of a new women’s group are wasting no time getting into gear. By the time "Woman" for Positive Change held their Sunday gathering in Cruz Bay they had numbers to back up the idea of the power of women.
Founder Stephanie Scott-Williams said she came upon the idea after reviewing V.I. voting records.
Fifty-seven percent of all registered voters in the territory are women, Scott-Williams told the dozen women who came to Nazareth Lutheran Church. By Aug. 10 the Board of Elections listed 29,515 registered women voters.
"If we have the power to elect people, why are things so bad in the Virgin Islands?" she asked. "We should be part of what the agenda should be. We elect people and we just leave them there scot-free for two years. They have no direction."
Two hundred "Woman" for Positive Change surveys have already been filled out and sent in. Women are being asked which of 13 different issues matter to them; health, business, education, housing, safety and transportation are among the topics presented.
Organizers say their goal will be to get as many surveys into the hands of as many women as they can and collect as many completed forms as possible by Sept. 30.
Scott-Williams says her new group is not intended to be a political action committee, but of the many ways of empowering women, political action is both legitimate and timely.
The new group plans to flex their economic muscles with an Oct. 5 Hold On To Your Money Day.
Among the cash-saving strategies promoted for V.I. women that day will be to bring hot beverages to work in a thermos, read newspapers and pass them along, and shopping either the day before or the day after.
Hold On To Your Money Day, said the former lawmaker, is not a boycott. "I’m just saying it's going to have an impact," she said.
For November’s General Election the group plans a "Vote No" campaign targeting disaffected voters.
Monique Matthias, one of the St. John women attending the Sunday gathering, said many young voters she has spoken to say they’re turned off by politics and feel they have few choices.
The strategy behind the "Vote No" campaign is to get the disaffected back in the voting booth and their votes into the tally. "If they don’t want to pick anybody they vote ‘no,’" Scott-Williams said.
Once the political season is over, organizers of the group say they want to find ways to empower local women through spirituality and other gatherings.
What ultimate shape and purpose "Woman" for Positive Change will take is unknown, said Scott-Williams.
However, she said that one of the first messages the group wants to deliver is that they do not want to advance women’s interest at the expense of men or families but hope their efforts will improve lives all around.
As she carried her empowerment banner from St. Croix to St. Thomas to St. John, Scott-Williams said she noticed women on each island had their own ideas of what it meant for women to control their own destinies.
On St. John women have been organizing for almost four decades with the island’s oldest civic organization — the Federation of Business and Professional Women — now celebrating its 39th year of existence.
Meeting participants said they didn’t come as representatives of other women’s groups, although some cited affiliations with sororities and church organizations.
Many said they left the gathering with favorable impressions.
One woman offered to help collect surveys in Cruz Bay. Others said they would spread word of the new group at island churches. Talk of economic empowerment led to talk of forming investment clubs.
Dore Brittain said she would carry the news to the continental community. "It’s awesome," said Brittain. "I’d like to see more women get involved because it seems there are so many women around here who don’t get involved."

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