BSI, Women’s Association unite for women empowerment


CNMI Women’s Association leaders Rep. Felicidad Ogumoro, Jovie M. Taimanao and Debra Inos are flanked by Best Sunshine CSR representatives. (Contributed Photo)

Organized in early 2010 and officially established on April 13, 2011, the CNMI Women’s Association is an organization that strives to empower women for leadership as guardians of our guinaha (assets) and a vision to embolden CNMI women to be fully engaged in the political, economic, and social development of the Commonwealth.  CWA chair Rep. Felicidad Ogumoro and Best Sunshine director of corporate social responsibility Rita Chong recently held a meeting with the intent to team up and work together on women empowerment endeavors.

Ogumoro said the association was organized in 2010 to bring the women of the CNMI together. Its primary source of funding is from federal grants through the Community Services Block Grant with the Department of Community Culture and Affairs. Its goal is education and training for all women.

Best Sunshine has expressed its full support for CWA’s mission. “We believe in women empowerment. The woman is the core of the home and the family. This foundation extends to her significant influences throughout the community. The CNMI Women’s Association invited us to join them to actively participate in this collaboration,” said Chong.

She adds, “In line with CWA’s aim to ensure the full participation of economically disadvantaged women in the development of the CNMI, Best Sunshine is committed in providing women with opportunities. In fact, the company has a large part of women employed in managerial and executive positions. We have plans to assist CWA in every possible way, starting with establishing a functional office, providing labor and manpower, and conducting workshops and seminars on their upcoming annual summit.”

Ogumoro said the association is currently planning its 3rd Annual Women’s Summit to take place in March 2016.

“Through this summit, we get our women trained and come together to develop their agenda that the CNMI should be focusing on. The agenda will help our organization to focus on the issues we need to collaborate and help all women throughout the three islands,” Ogumoro said. “We are very fortunate that we have been able to collaborate with Best Sunshine. One of the things we need to fulfill is a women’s center and that’s why we came to BSI, to see how they can help because the grant award that we receive cannot fund the renovations of the building.

“We believed in Best Sunshine from the very beginning and we wanted to work closely with them in helping us fulfill the needs of the target population that we are focusing on. I am so proud that we have a lot of women in their organization that are now being employed because one of our main goals was to help women to be employed. We need our women to become decision makers and help women be empowered to be successful in whatever they do in their lives. By working together with Best Sunshine, we can be even more successful.”

“This partnering concept must exist and happen. When businesses that come to do business [on] our island partner with the people [on] our island, we will realize success and profit will be made. I am of the position that if we want it and think positively, Best Sunshine can be an industry that can promote the island economically. By working together, we can make this island a very self-sustaining commonwealth. The women will make sure to communicate very closely and assist in those areas to ensure that this industry is successful.”

Jovie Taimanao, CWA’s vice chair, said: “By partnering with Best Sunshine, it will give us the vehicle to move along and incorporate them within the CWA’s priorities.”

Program administrator Debra Inos said: “It feels awesome to see women given the opportunity to be able to make a difference in our community. We look at the importance of women and how women are moving along in their livelihood in the CNMI. A lot of the women need to be educated and obtain jobs, so we believe that by partnering with Best Sunshine, we can achieve that goal. We saw the start of Best Sunshine’s Human Resources hiring our local women and we believe that it’s a good starting point for their business. We are looking to send more women to Best Sunshine, should there be opportunities that we could collaborate in their employment. The CWA does not have a stable women’s center, therefore we recognize the need to establish a place for women to freely come in and be involved.

“Financially, the CWA does not have the funds; we sought out support from Best Sunshine to have them work together within their group of women and our group of women to establish a Women’s Center.

“When we’re thriving in the community with all our success, Best Sunshine will be there next to us in the community as a part of our success.” (BSI)

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