Trinidadian/Vincentian pageant founder Pearl Williams has received recognition from an international women's network.
Williams received a virtual award from Women Appreciating Women (WAW) group on March 15 during its annual awards ceremony.
WAW is a UK-based global movement established to bring women together to appreciate one another and to support each other without boundaries in business, humanitarian projects, activism, professionally and personally in all aspects of life. It was founded by multi-award-winning entrepreneur, philanthropist, media mogul, public speaker, peace activist and mentor Dr Pauline Long. Since 2017 WAW has honoured more than 700 women from 90 countries including the Jamaican MP and PM's wife, Juliet Holness, and former vice president of Zimbabwe Dr Joice Mujuru.
Williams, who was born in Trinidad to Vincentian parents, is based in St Vincent and the Grenadines, where she also has citizenship. She is the head of Beautex International Group, brand owner of Miss Plus Universe, publisher of Status Magazine, hosts the Good Morning SVG programme, and is World Secretary General of the World United Humanity Organization.
Speaking to Newsday in a telephone interview, she said she was the only woman from the Caribbean among the 900 nominees for the WAW awards. She recalled she was asked to make a 15-minute presentation about her achievements and spoke about her time as a junior athlete in the Texaco Sports Club, first runner-up for Miss Independence San Fernando, forming her modelling agency Beautex while at school, obtaining a degree in business management, and founding Miss Plus Universe and the Miss Big and Beautiful pageant.
Williams said she looked at the calibre of the other winners, including top entrepreneurs, Hollywood actors and acclaimed make-up artistes.
"I am a young girl from the Caribbean into the beauty industry. How do I fit into such an award?"
Williams said apart from pageantry she has also been involved in campaigns for women's empowerment platforms in TT, St Vincent and the Grenadines and New York.
"I want to help women to restore their pride and look for alternatives where they would have opportunities and not sell themselves short."
She reported in St Vincent and the Grenadines she is a tutor and teaches fabric design and costume design. She also staged a recent women's conference in New York.
"Given all those elements of success, (WAW gave me) the opportunity to win this award."
Williams said she thanked God for the journey and her international recognition.
"It is a powerful one. I feel good and honoured as a Trinidadian."
She said the TT Prime Minister has been having a hard time with crime and hoped to return to Trinidad and her community of Gasparillo to assist with the issue of abuse of women. She added St Vincent and the Grenadines is home to her, but she also identifies with the rich culture of TT.
"I am always back and forth."
She first moved to St Vincent and the Grenadines 30 years ago to care for her aunt who was losing her sight.
"Outside of that, I would not leave TT, my home. I would not trade it for anything else."
She said in St Vincent and the Grenadines she is considered a celebrity and is involved in carnival, both designing mas and managing a mas band. She also took the opportunity to thank St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves.
"Since I came here he has always gone out of his way to give personal and moral support to my pageant and the beauty industry."
She recalled on one occasion she was having difficulty in securing a venue for a pageant and Gonsalves organised it with one phone call. She added that whenever she staged a show he would invite the girls to Parliament, as he was appreciative of the level of professionalism she brought to the country.
"He made sure I feel comfortable as a Trinidadian living in St Vincent."