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Transforming and empowering women through leadership: My experience in Buenos Aires
published: Sunday | October 19, 2008

Taniesha Burke, Contributor

Jamaican team (from left): Marcia Brooks, social worker; Andrea Downer, journalist; Patricia Atkinson, US Embassy public relations officer, and Taniesha Burke, CEO, Preston Childcare Services. - Contributed

Vital Voices Global Partnership is a non-governmental organisation that identifies, trains and empowers emerging women leaders and social entrepreneurs to become change agents in our governments, communities, private sectors and families.

This phenomenal organisation held a leadership and training programme for Caribbean and Latin American women in Buenos Aires, Argentina, from October 5 to 8, which I was privileged to attend.

As a young social entrepreneur, I was given the opportunity to meet and network with 200 exceptional women who are political and governmental leaders, peace-builders and human rights advocates, community activists, health care professionals, environmentalists, entrepreneurs and business leaders. The programme facilitated the formulation of strategies that are deemed useful to enhance women throughout the region.

core groups

Optimal success was achieved by creating core groups of similar specialisation. I teamed with a group that focused on women as an economic force a new model of leadership.

My participation equipped me with the tools and practices that women entrepreneurs use to become, and remain, successful. As a young businesswoman, I was exposed to the concept of business sustainability and the importance of corporate social responsibility, and how these can be incorporated into my business and the community.

The high point of my participation was interacting with powerful women, learning and practising the conduct of respected and influential world business owners and leaders in relation to the community media and the society at large.

Among the general topics covered was attracting and retaining top talents. This exposure caused a radical change of perspective on business management. The underlying lesson in this is that what has been considered the weakness of women our emotions is actually our greatest strength.

The opportunity of building powerful relationships with powerful women from Fortune 500 companies, NGOs and women from the grass roots in the business environment throughout the region is priceless!

One-on-one discussions with these women provided valuable information on creating a balanced life, while managing multinational corporations and family life simultaneously.

This experience has renewed my commitment and dedication to the mission of Preston Childcare Services (PCS) and my personal mission to initiate change in the families, communities and, ultimately, in Jamaica.

Listening to the challenges of women in some areas of the region, in particular an NGO, Autonomous Womens Movementin Nicaragua, I experienced a new sense of urgency about ensuring that PCS delivers on its mission, especially given the recent plight of women and children in our nation and the need for all to work to uplift this nation.

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet shared her experiences of herself and her parents being imprisoned and tortured for several days.

Her determination materialised into her becoming a paediatrician to help children and their families, and now she is in the most influential position, president of Chile. This and many more stories speak to heights of achievements that myself and other aspiring young Jamaican entrepreneur can and are attaining.

The Vital Voices, experience is a priceless gift that has empowered me to expand my vision, not only of PCS as a business, but also my vision of service, tailored towards the development of women in my community and Jamaica.

I look forward to a continuous and active association with Vital Voices and the network of powerful, creative, determined and strong women around the world.

Taniesha Burke, MSc, Applied Psychology, is the CEO of Preston Childcare Services. She can be reached for comments and questions at or via email at taniesha.burke@

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