Promoter of Opportunities for Rural Women Now IICA Goodwill Ambassador
(Inter American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture Press Release) – Founder and Executive Director at Helen’s Daughters, Keithlin Caroo of Saint Lucia became the first woman from the Caribbean to be conferred the title of Goodwill Ambassador of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) for sustainable development issues.
The recognition, made at a virtual ceremony by Manuel Otero, Director General of IICA, is the result of Caroo’s work through her non-profit to promote the socioeconomic development of rural women through adaptive agricultural techniques, capacity-building and improved market access.
“This recognition is still so surreal to me because nine months ago, I made a decision that would change my life. I left a job that not only gave me financial stability, but a job that many would consider a dream job at the office of the United Nations General Assembly, to return to what my family has been doing for generations—farming”, explained Keithlin Caroo.
Philip J. Pierre, Prime Minister of Saint Lucia; Alfred P. Prospere, Minister of Agriculture; Didacus Jules, Director General of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS); and James Fletcher, former government minister, also participated in the ceremony. All recognised Caroo’s inspiring and important career and encouraged her to continue her invaluable work to support the development and recognition of rural women and youth in agriculture.
IICA’s Goodwill Ambassador Programme is part of an initiative to tackle the challenges and opportunities present in agriculture in the hemisphere, which requires collaboration with public institutions and civil society organisations.
IICA Goodwill Ambassadors share concerns and commitments to achieve sustainable, equitable development and are willing to join a cause to increase public awareness and to work for development through projects related to food security, the bioeconomy, gender and youth relations, responsible production and climate change, all key topics on IICA’s agenda.
“Often, female producers around the world are undervalued or overlooked due to age-old perceptions of being mere helpers or intermediaries for men, and are often relegated to the lowest rung of the value chain and in terms of access to training, financing and capacity-building. The seeds of empowerment in agriculture have the ability to allow women to reinvigorate the sector, to become free, and for the youth to hold their heads high in choosing to be farmers”, said IICA’s new Goodwill Ambassador.
“Agriculture must renovate its image; what we need in the sector isn’t limited to empowerment, but to developing adequate skills and a support network”, she stated.
From her organisation, Caroo created the “Rural Women’s Ag-cademy” initiative, a virtual and in-person agricultural training programme for marginalised rural women that focuses on climate-smart agriculture and developing the agroindustry and ties to the market.
“This is the first time we are bestowing this award on a woman from the Caribbean. Helen’s Daughters, the organisation Keithlin Caroo leads, has proven its commitment to improving the lives of rural women by providing training, mentorship and support in marketing their agricultural products through e-commerce and innovative approaches that contribute to economic empowerment and sustainable livelihoods”, stated Otero at the ceremony.
“Keithlin’s work is closely related to IICA’s mission and we believe she is completely worthy of the title of IICA Goodwill Ambassador. We are committed to working together to implement actions that contribute to agricultural and rural well-being in Saint Lucia, the Caribbean and the Hemisphere as a whole”, he added.
Given the impact of her work and noteworthy dedication to rural development, Caroo has been bestowed a number of awards, including the 2021 Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, the third most important British title bestowed on individuals for humanitarian service.