Recently, I had the pleasure of interviewing a brilliant and wise young woman by the name of Janelle Mills. She also happens to be my sister. When I approached her about the possibility of her involvement with the magazine, she was more than willing to assist. She listened with keen interest as I explained my mission and my main aim – to uplift and empower women to achieve their goals. She nodded along and the sparkle in her eyes was clear. Janelle Mills is a believer and supporter of female empowerment.
Here is the transcript of our interview:
Patrice Magazine (PM): “So Janelle, tell us a little bit about yourself.”
Janelle Mills (JM): “Sure … I’m Janelle Mills. I am 22 years old. I was born in Trinidad and Tobago but I spent my childhood in St. Kitts and Nevis.”
PM: “Nice. It’s a privilege belonging to more than one Caribbean nation, isn’t it?”
JM: “Yes, it is. I now live in Trinidad, but I am a proud citizen of both countries.”
PM: “That’s great. Tell us more. What do you do?”
JM: “Currently, I am a Master of Social Work student at the University of the West Indies.”
PM: “As a postgraduate student, I assume there is a lot of work involved in your programme. Tell us, what do you do when you are not studying? Do you have the time to do other things, like your favourite hobbies?”
JM: “Yes, I do. I have to make the time! When I’m not studying I love to bake, do yoga, and of course, catch up on my many YouTube subscriptions on a range of topics including health and beauty.”
PM: “That’s great. As you may know, here at Patrice Magazine, we aim to empower both men and women but particularly women. We also aim to inspire and spread as much joy as possible. What would you say is one thing that makes you happy?”
JM: “Right now, journaling makes me happy.”
PM: “Lovely … What does being a dual Caribbean citizen mean to you?”
JM: “Being a citizen of both Trinidad and Tobago and St. Kitts and Nevis is a unique experience. For both countries, I am very grateful for the rights I enjoy as a citizen. For example, I particularly value the access I have to education, and the relative peace and safety I enjoy in Trinidad, in spite of the growing crime situation. However, as a citizen, I am also aware that I am a part of the solution to our social issues, and that can be a challenge.”
PM: “Very true. Is it safe to say that you are proud to be a Caribbean woman?”
JM: “Yes, of course! As a Caribbean woman I am part of a rich cultural history. I am proud of our art, folklore, music, food and most importantly, the work of our region’s scholars, writers, musicians and artists who are renowned around the world.”
PM: “Excellent. I don’t want to assume the answer to this, but do you think female empowerment is an important cause in the Caribbean?”
JM: “I do. There are still too many women who are not afforded equal opportunity to fulfill their potential. We are in the 21st century. Equality should be a given, not a privilege or reward.”
PM: “Indeed. Do you currently do anything to help promote awareness of gender-based issues?”
JM: “Right now I am not a part of any formal group or movement which promotes awareness of gender-based issues. However, my Masters thesis aims to highlight the experiences of single mothers in university. I hope to share the findings with the public to raise awareness of the resiliency of these women, who are persevering in their education despite situational barriers.”
PM: “Wow, that’s great. That sounds like a lot of research is involved.”
JM: “Yes, definitely a LOT of research! But I enjoy doing research and collecting data.”
PM: “Liking what you do is half the battle, isn’t it?”
PM: “You mentioned ‘situational barriers’. Have you ever felt discriminated against because of your gender?”
JM: “Yes, unfortunately.”
PM: “What happened?”
JM: “In a particular situation, I was being ignored by a male worker in an establishment. I felt powerless and frustrated.”
PM: “What did you do about it?”
JM: “My initial response was to try to raise my voice to be heard. At the time, this was difficult for me since I am naturally soft-spoken and shy. Now, I am much more willing to be assertive since I have learned that staying silent can give others the green light to treat you like a doormat.”
PM: “Very true. I am glad that you gained something positive – more assertiveness – from an unpleasant situation. What role if any, do you think men should play in the promotion of female empowerment?”
JM: “We cannot empower women without the actions of men. Men play a vital role in female empowerment. This statement may seem ironic at first, but it is not. When men recognize and affirm the inherent worth and equal status of women, empowerment is facilitated. In their everyday interactions – for example, how they speak to, think of, and act towards women – men can support the empowerment of women.”
PM: “Wiser words have never been spoken. Just a few more questions…. Do you believe that your country is on track for increasing awareness of gender issues locally?”
JM: “Much more work needs to be done to mitigate gender issues in Trinidad. However, I am encouraged by the past and present sensitization efforts of the University of the West Indies through the Institute of Gender Studies. On the national scale, efforts should continue for implementing strategies to reduce the rates of child sexual abuse and intimate partner violence. I also think that the gender imbalance in education should be given more attention, specifically, in how we can increase the support for young males in school.”
PM: “True. Very true. What about your views on Trinidad and Tobago having its very first female President?”
JM: “I think it is a positive step for the country. I hope and expect that our lady President will fulfill the duties assigned to her with diligence and integrity.”
PM: “Great. And finally, do you have a heroine?”
JM: “Yes, I do.”
PM: “Who is she and why is she your hero?”
JM: “My mother is my heroine. When I think of unconditional love, she is the first person who comes to mind. In all that she does, she operates with love. She is motivated to help others, even at her own expense. She has endured through heartbreak and loss with a strength and courage that I can’t begin to fathom! There was a poem that I learned in school called, “For My Mother, May I Inherit Half Her Strength”. That title sums up how I feel about my mom.”
PM: “Excellent. Wonderful answers Janelle. Thank you so much for your time and sharing your experiences with us.”
JM: “You are very welcome.”
And that concluded our interview. We at Patrice Magazine extend our heartfelt gratitude to Ms. Janelle Mills for her time and her effort in promoting the empowerment of women. We wish her the very best in the completion of her studies and the fulfillment of her dreams.
Up next: Female empowerment from the male perspective!
How to get featured:
You may be featured in the magazine if you meet the following criteria:
- You are over the age of 18;
- You are a Caribbean national OR a person with an interest in Caribbean culture/identity;
- You are a person interested in the promotion of female empowerment; and
- You are subscribed to my email list.
If you would like to be featured, kindly send me an email at email@example.com.
For more on the aims of Patrice Magazine, read the introductory article here.
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