Patrina O’Connor-Paynter was named International Woman of the Year at an event celebrating International Women’s Day yesterday.

The managing director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Bermuda was recognised for her tireless involvement in the community both through the work she does for the mentoring charity as well as numerous other charities and organisations.

Ms O’Connor-Paynter, who was also a radio host for Power 95FM for close to 15 years, volunteers, mentors, coaches and speaks at events.

“When they were announcing the award they said I was involved in so many events they wondered when I get time to sleep,” she said.

“This is just who I am – when people call I am happy to help – especially if it is something I believe in. I love being able to advocate for young people, exposing them to opportunities they might not usually be exposed to.”

The theme for this year’s international event was Embrace Equity and a ceremony was held at Pier 6 in Hamilton. The event was organised by the International Women’s Day Committee in partnership with the Women’s Resource Centre.

The sold-out event, attended by 250 people including David Burt, the Premier, and several other dignitaries, included a morning of networking and a panel discussion.

To officially open the event, there was the ringing of the Bermuda Stock Exchange [BSX] bell for gender equality by Greg Wojciechowski, chief executive of the BSX, and first lady Kristin Burt.

The event featured a discussion moderated by Christine Hunter Arscott, inspirational speaker and award-winning author; and panellists Liana Nanang, founder and chief executive of Unstoried; Deshay Caines, vice-president of colleague engagement at Marsh McLennan; Marico Thomas, the owner of Thomas United Company Limited/Bermuda Hospitality Group; and Kim Wilkerson, senior vice-president, head of claims at AXAXL.

The topic for the panel was “On the Rise: Empowering Women to Embrace Equity and Live Boldly Together”.

Guests enjoyed an inspirational video by Bermuda Paralympian Jessica Lewis, who shared her story and explained why embracing equity was important to her.

Carika Weldon, who was named International Woman of the Year at last year’s event, presented Ms O’Connor-Paynter with her award. Ms O’Connor-Paynter, visibly moved, recognised her mother Patricia O’Connor for her ongoing support through the years and accepted the award in honour of her “littles” from BBBS.

The event closed with a call to action by Juanae Crockwell, the newly appointed Women’s Resource Centre executive director. She encouraged both women and men to make room for equity and noted she could not wait to report on the impact of the event next year

All proceeds from the event will go towards the Women’s Resource Centre, which “supports women facing life’s challenges, by providing information, appropriate referrals and confidential counselling”.

According to the International Women’s Day website the 2021 campaign theme “seeks to get the world talking about why equal opportunities are no longer enough and can in fact be exclusionary, rather than inclusive”.

It adds: “Equality focuses on providing all genders with equal opportunities, such as a woman’s right to vote. Yet, women often require more than a level playing field. They need to belong in a global culture that actively promotes and supports them in all aspects of their life, from education to the workplace to health.”

The Royal Gazette