Two of the Caribbean’s most influential brands, the Sandals Foundation and the Bob Marley Foundation, are joining forces to address the chronic issue of gender inequality in the Caribbean with the introduction of Women Helping Others Achieve (WHOA).
WHOA is a multi-year women’s empowerment program designed to provide support, mentorship, education and skills training to help marginalized women across Jamaica and the Caribbean find inspiration and strength to transform their lives, and in doing so, positively impact their families and communities for generations to come.
According to Heidi Clarke, Director of Programs for the Sandals Foundation, gender inequality remains a pervasive problem in the developing world and its legacy is poverty, not only for women, but for families and ultimately entire communities. “Through WHOA, we have an opportunity to address and close the gender gap, which is essential to our region’s ability to break the cycle of poverty,” says Clarke. “It’s a paradox… two thirds of the world’s illiterate are female yet studies show that even just one additional year of education for women of reproductive age can reduce child mortality by 9.5%. This fact alone speaks volumes, and I believe, together, we can touch so many lives through this wonderful relationship.”
Cedella Marley, eldest daughter of global legend Bob Marley and CEO of the Marley Group of Companies, is set to be the Good Will Ambassador for WHOA, using her family’s renowned philanthropic and social media muscle to raise awareness and drive fundraising efforts for programs empowering women in the Caribbean. “Equal opportunity is at the heart of my father’s legacy,” said Marley. “We are thrilled to join the Sandals Foundation to not only bring recognition to gender issues, but to create meaningful initiatives that address the obstacles facing Caribbean women and their children today.”
WHOA will be supporting existing as well as developing new programs across many industries and services including agriculture, education, community development and healthcare. Special attention will be given to programming aimed at youth, an obvious concern for mothers, critical to their own success. To that end, WHOA is committed to youth mentorship and sports opportunities in the Caribbean region.
The campaign will also feature a 6-week crowdfunding component which is being hosted at crowdrise.com/cedellamarley. Contributions made through the online platform will go towards needed funding of WHOA projects throughout the Caribbean. There is also added incentive for donors as each contribution of $5 or more enables a download code for the campaign song which is a refreshed and modern version of Bob Marley’s famed “Could You Be Loved” re-recorded by Cedella which is at the forefront of the new fundraising campaign. Donors will be eligible for unique prizes during the campaign, including a Grand Prize to the individual with the largest contribution. The Grand Prize consists of a 3-night, 4-day Luxury Included vacation for two to a Sandals or Beaches resort in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, roundtrip airfare for 2 to Jamaica, a tour of the Bob Marley Museum and Tuff Gong Recording Studios in Kingston, Jamaica, and an invitation to meet a member of the Marley family (restrictions apply).