"The most authentic thing about us is our capacity to create, to overcome, to endure, to transform, to love and to be greater than our suffering." ~Ben Okri
Sherna Alexander Benjamin is a radical collaborator, an emerging leader, a social work student, facilitator, trainer, speaker and an up and coming social development practitioner who has over 11-years’ experience in advocacy and lobbying, public education and awareness, community outreach and victim advocacy.
She advocates for the prevention and elimination of gender-based violence and violence against women and children. Her advocacy also includes economic, gender and political justice, working with men and boys to raise their consciousness about the manifestation of toxic masculinities and its damaging effects. She challenges systemic patriarchy which enables inequalities and the subjugation and disempowerment of women and girls in Trinidad and Tobago and across the Caribbean region.
She holds a Dip in Development Leadership, PM4R Leadership Certification, holds 3-year certifications in Information Security Awareness Advanced, Preparing and Responding to Active Shooter incidents and Advanced Security in the Field from (UNDSS) United Nations Department of Safety and Security.
She is an Alumni of The National Victim Assistance Academy (NVAA) Leadership Institute. Sherna holds a variety of certificates inclusive of Program Evaluation, Developing and Sustaining Collaborations, Financial Management, Strategic Planning for Program Managers, and Succession Planning from the U.S Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs/Office for Victims of Crime. She also participated in a series of professional development training with The National Children’s Advocacy Center (NCAC).
Sherna facilitates the training of community groups and organizations in the implementation of the Bystander Approach, Conflict Transformation and Peacebuilding programs using consciousness raising, emancipatory and participatory approaches to work with persons to combat and prevent community violence, gender-based violence and violence against women and children. Ultimately working with individuals to manage conflicts constructively, build sustainable peace, and incorporate these approaches within their own unique and successful growth and development processes. In 2008 she founded the Advocacy and Service Providing company O.A.B.I.: Organization for Abused and Battered Individuals and officially launched it in July of 2011 after its Non-Profit incorporation.
In October of 2018, she was elected to the board of Trinidad and Tobago Network of NGOs for the Advancement of Women responsible for Advocacy and Lobbying. In 2014 she received a National Youth Ally Award from the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago for her national service and advocacy. Over the years she has written several opinion pieces which have been published on, online and offline platforms including Time.com. She continues to be invited to speak at local, regional and international events.
Over the years she participated in numerous consultations and focus group discussions on GBV, VAW, Child protection, Gender justice and civil society's role in social development. Sherna contributed to the 2015 Parliament Joint Select Committee on Human Rights, Diversity, The Environment and Sustainable Development inquiry into Programmes and Services which provide support to victims of Domestic Violence, in 2017 she submitted questions to the committee when the inquiry was revisited. Trinidad and Tobago CEDAW Shadow report in 2016. The World Banks "Women, Business and the Law Report" in 2016/2018, was an active member of the Trinidad and Tobago coalition against child marriage in 2016 and 2017 where she collaboratively advocated and lobbied for the age of marriage to be increased to 18-years, by early 2017 the Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago Amended all of the country's Marriage Acts raising the age to 18-years. A victory for the Coalition. In 2016 UN Women Caribbean published her EVAW speech titled 'Counting the Cost of Gender-based violence' on their website.
In 2017 she was one of two emerging women leaders selected from developing countries to receive the Scotia Bank of Canada International Women Leaders Award. Invited by the STFX University's History, Women and Gender departments to speak at their panel discussion on 'Contextualising #MeToo: Reconkening with sexualised violence in the Past and present'. She was selected to meet with and discuss "Women in Leadership Opportunities and Challenges with Mila Mulroney and Caroline Mulroney Lapham".
Sherna embraces diversity and cultural competencies and believes in inclusion. She shares her knowledge, experiences and advocacy lessons learned over the years, the consequences of joining unhealthy collaborations and making uninformed life and business decisions.
Her career goals are to become a Clinical Social Worker, Social Psychologist and a Social Development Leader. Working tirelessly to engage women and girls, men and boys to create counter-norms, new stereotypes and ways to challenge the patriarchal systems which oppress both sexes.
Sherna Alexander Benjamin leaves no stone unturned as a thriving survivor of severe childhood abuse, sexualised violence and marital rape and abuse she speaks and works from a place of knowledge and experience. She connects with public officials and state actors lobbying for changes in public policy when it comes to gender justice and social development. She firmly believes that active citizens will protect and promote accountable democracies thus she is passionate about women being actively engaged in the social, economic, democratic and political process in every sphere of their lives because the personal is political and leadership is personal.
Memberships and Affiliations:
Elected board member:
Trinidad and Tobago Network of NGOs for the Advancement of Women
Social Psychology Network
The Association for Women's Rights in Development (AWID)
CEDAW Committee of Trinidad and Tobago
Canada Alumni Association Trinidad and Tobago
Coursera Mentors Community
The Caribbean Policy Development Centre (CPDC)
The NGO Caribbean Development Foundation
The University of the West Indies Institute for Gender and Development Studies Break the Silence Campaign