Interview Series: Eva Nicole Jn. Marie -- By Alberta Richelieu
Eva Nicole Jn. Marie studied Philosophy at Leeds University in the United Kingdom. She is passionate about holistic education. She hopes to continue getting involved with projects concerning female empowerment and groups created with the advancement of women and young girls in mind.
“The first thing that comes to mind in terms of what is needed to keep young adults, especially young women, engaged and confident in their abilities to succeed in the international arena is representation. …Hard work goes a long way and talent can really take you to new levels,[ but] unless young women see evidence that what they are being taught[ has]… practical implications and… a place in the real world, all [their] efforts might seem moot.” Eva is a major believer in role models as the key to helping young adults believe they can do it too.” We need to see that black women have a place in the international arena and that our efforts are not in vain. The Caribbean has been putting in efforts to encourage young women to forge new paths for themselves, but I genuinely believe that [more] representation is needed.”
Eva believes that from a young age, women need to know that they have a voice and that their voice will be heard. She continued by noting that young women are encouraged by some to speak up and told that they can, but the actions of society tends to silence them. “They (women) need support from [one]… another and society. [They]… need a platform to honestly and openly express what their experiences are.” In that way, she views that this is a starting point for gaining a better awareness of what needs to be addressed.
Eva noted that as someone who had never considered entrepreneurship as a career path, the workshops and symposiums she attended gave her an opportunity to explore what feels like “a whole new world”. She can’t stress enough her belief that everybody has something to offer, and she highlighted that by learning and sharpening the right skills,, most people can successfully create their own business.
In light of high unemployment rates in the Caribbean, she believes that workshops fostering an entrepreneurship mindset are vital. “With climate change and the instability of the economy, our youth need to learn how to adapt to the times because times are moving very quickly particularly in the age of technology.” She added that teaching skills as opposed to passing on fixed knowledge allows youth to create jobs for themselves rather than waiting on the government and other respective bodies to create jobs for them. “We don’t know what the world will be like in the next two years, let alone the next five to ten years.” Hence, Eva believes building a better future means that we must, as Caribbean people, become adaptable to change. “We can no longer employ the methods of our elders who had more stability and more certainty about their future,” she stated adamantly.
Eva views the role that men and boys need to play in female empowerment as critical and emphasized that their role will be enhanced simply by them listening and internalizing the issues relating to gender. “Being in a position of privilege, men play a critical role in how peacefully female empowerment can move forward. For men to play any sort of role, they must first be aware of the problem.” Emphasizing that there is a tendency for human beings to down play the experiences of others, particularly when they have not had those experiences themselves, and as such are often unable to grasp the depth of the other party’s experience.
“Female empowerment is happening, regardless of men's co-operation. Men's co-operation, however, allows society to create a harmonious space for ALL to dwell. Men must teach boys accountability for their actions. [Also] there is a need to teach boys [how] to get in touch with their feminine side so they do not grow up to see women as weak and emotional creatures, but rather consider the experiences of women as worthy of respect. Teaching boys about their own emotions and allowing them to experience them in the same way we allow girls to experience their emotions is important. Men must hold each other accountable for their actions. Patriarchy hurts everybody, not just women. The ‘macho man’ mindset has driven many of our young Caribbean men to suicide. There MUST be a focus on emotional intelligence.” She concluded by stating that she whole-heartedly believes in a holistic approach toward female empowerment. “We must focus on the practical, mental, emotional, and spiritual side of things if we are to move forward.”