When someone hears the word “pageant”, typically images of women up on stage with glistening gowns, beautifully made faces, hair perfectly styled and of course the famous crown comes to the mind. However, the true beauty behind beauty pageants is that they provide a platform for women to utilize their talents to advocate for important societal causes and inspire others to take action and live their best lives. The Mrs. British Virgin Islands pageant is one notable example. It has been one of the territory’s most recognizable names involved in charitable and community service endeavors that has transformed the lives of thousands of women. The Mrs. British Virgin Islands is an annual themed event and the major fundraiser for the WINBVI organization to help women in need. “WINBVI provide resources for women who need empowerment and reform from traumatic and abusive situations…it’s aim is to preserve the well being of women and children,” Alicia Green, Director and Founder of WINBVI told us.
The cohort of Queens represents three categories of women. There is Mrs. British Virgin Islands for women aged 27-45, Mrs. British Virgin Islands Curve’ for women size 12 to 18 and Mrs. British Virgin Islands Classique for women aged 45 and older. These women are afforded the opportunity to represent the organization and the territory on the international stage; an experience a lifetime in a celebration of beauty, culture and charity for women globally. “We all believe that empowered women, empower nations and empower the globe,” Alicia added. This year, three women have been using the Mrs. British Virgin Islands platform to make a significant difference in the lives of women by bringing a variety of passions to center stage. We sat down with these powerful women to find out exactly how they are using their crowns to advance women’s empowerment.
Spurred by her own cervical cancer survival story, Dr. Arliene Penn has been using her reign to educate, motivate, and actively support women to protect their health. Through cervical cancer public awareness programmes, speaking engagements along with several fundraising campaigns, Dr. Penn was privileged to raise financial resources to provide more than 200 women in the Virgin Islands with the opportunity to receive pap smear screenings and diagnostic testing. Dr. Penn’s story and commitment to cervical cancer awareness has been so inspiring and far reaching. Her interaction on the world stage attracted an international donor to sponsor one deserving woman in need from the Virgin Islands the opportunity to attend the W.I.N Foundation’s Discover the Divine Conference in Greece this September. The “Discover the Divine Conference” is a women’s seminar founded by Dr. Tracy Kemble where women discover how to be their best selves.
In June of this year, Dr. Penn took her advocacy to greater heights by competing in the Mrs. Globe pageant in California. Not only did she place first runner-up for the People’s Choice Award but Dr. Penn also won the Voice of WIN award for her dedication to her platform and strong advocacy for women to reclaim themselves. While there, Dr. Penn shared her platform with every candidate present at the pageant, and where English was not the first language, there was an interpreter. She even turned to the power of music to help engage others with her message and wrote an original song called “Self Love”. Through her musical talent, the international stage became her platform for change. When she burst into song, women at the feminine BOSS Luncheon rose to their feet, cheered and circled her as she performed. She demonstrated true commitment to the cause and represented women in the BVI and across the globe, with her strong message to know, fix, live and WIN.
Mrs. Roslyn Gilbert’s child abuse prevention platform, See It, Speak It, Stop it, stemmed from the challenges faced in her childhood. “My personal experience as a child, growing up as an angry young adult, and now seeing how prevalent this is affecting our young generation, has prompted me to come forward,” Roslyn shared. From her own experience and that of others, she realized that many children in abusive situations often find it difficult to communicate or express their emotions. They are often threatened with frightening consequences if they tell anyone. “Sometimes you don’t know how to express yourself or you may be afraid to because you are a child,” Roslyn added. She knew that she needed to find a way to support children in a way that would give them the confidence to speak up. With that, Roslyn started planning ways to create community outreach events that centered on educating children in ways that were fun and engaging. On Saturday February 11, 2023, Roslyn hosted her first edition of “Sip & Paint Breakfast Morning” which saw 30 children ages 5-12 years old in attendance. The children participated in presentations by Mr. Kendell Bobb of the Royal Virgin Islands Police on the different types of abuse and the role the police department plays in assisting families. Dr. Albert Thompkins also presented information related to child abuse. Through this event, Roslyn was able to provide children of the Virgin Islands with a safe space where they can express their feelings creatively, without having to use words.
She participated in the Mrs. Classique Globe pageant in California in 2022 and was another strong advocate among the women speaking about her platform, and represented women traumatized from this type of situation.
An influential mother to Kmoyah age 18, Kymoi age 16, and Klah age 10 going on 25 years old, Kimberly Richards has been using her platform to support single mothers. “I’ve experienced it firsthand. I am seeing other women go through what I went through,” Kimberly explained as she gave her reason for choosing this platform. During her reign, Kimberly shared her own journey of single motherhood with other women, provided encouragement and shared useful tips on how to support single mothers in the territory. Kimberly also firmly believes in the saying that “it takes a village to raise a child” and with that, continuously encourages people to donate any used items to charity to help families in need. “I don’t like to throw away anything,” Kimberly shared. Instead, she puts them aside and finds someone in need. She has worked along with organizations like Red Cross and the Family Support Network who help to provide the needed essentials and equipment to mothers and families who are unable to provide these items for themselves. She has been a strong advocate through WINBVI and has assisted with identifying resources for single mothers which includes the single parenting programme of WINBVI.
Kimberly was 1st runner up at the Mrs. Curve’ Globe pageant in Palm Springs California.