Determined to make a difference, she found a way to lend her voice to the WHO’s efforts in reducing those numbers and saving lives: by participating last week in this year’s Mrs. Globe pageant. (Photo: MRS British Virgin Islands/FACEBOOK)

As a cervical cancer survivor, Dr. Arliene Penn was struck by statistics provided by the World Health Organization: Each year, about 600,000 women are diagnosed with the disease, and some 300,000 lose their lives to it.

Determined to make a difference, she found a way to lend her voice to the WHO’s efforts in reducing those numbers and saving lives: by participating last week in this year’s Mrs. Globe pageant.

“I saw this as an opportunity to get my voice there,” she told the Beacon on Tuesday. “I left here wanting to make a huge impact, and I feel that I’ve done that.”

Dr. Penn’s path to Mrs. Globe began when she learned that Women In Need BVI (WINBVI) is part of a global foundation that hosts the pageant each year, aligning with her desire to aid women worldwide.

The international pageant became a platform for her advocacy. She represented the Virgin Islands (and was the only woman from the Caribbean) by joining women from more than 80 countries who championed their own causes.

“I made it to the semifinals,” said Ms. Penn, who is government’s communications director. “That says that even though it’s a small Virgin Islands, we can do large things.”


The event took place in Rancho Mirage, California from June 20 through Sunday and consisted of competition in categories including evening gown, swimsuit, and personality profile.

Aside from being the first runner-up for the People’s Choice Award, Dr. Penn won the Voice of WIN award for her dedication to cervical cancer awareness and was nominated for another award.

“That is quite meaningful to me because it’s what I wanted to do from the beginning,” she said about the Voice of WIN award. “I’ve always been consistent with my theme: know, fix, live and win. In anything that you do in life, you have to know it and be aware of what it is and how it affects you. Then you have to fix it. Whatever it is that you need to do, you have to fix it so that you can live. You can live the life you want to live, and winning is about celebrating life. I believe that in my consistency with my theme, I was well-poised to win the award.”

Original song

At the pageant, Dr. Penn performed an original song titled “Self Love,” which encourages everyone to love themselves first in order to “love thy neighbour.”

Another song that she released last year is the first thing that plays during WIN’s weekly “Reclaiming Me” meetings.

The meetings, which are held virtually so women from all over the world can join, are aimed at teaching women how to recover from narcissistic abuse and other forms of trauma.

“My song is played right before the programme, and that’s meaningful to me,” Dr. Penn said. “This was a very authentic journey.”

The pageant

Though pageantry can often seem glamorous, it wasn’t easy, Dr. Penn said.

With only three days to prepare for the main show on Saturday, contestants spent hours practising, often in their heels.

“We were having fun, but it was a lot of hard work,” Dr. Penn said. “For me, pageantry has always been about the cause.”

Dr. Penn was crowned Mrs. BVI Globe under the WINBVI organisation in April 2022. She has since launched a cervical cancer public awareness programme in the territory.

She has also held several fundraising campaigns to help provide free pap smear screenings and diagnostic testing for women.

“There are steps you can take to prevent cervical cancer,” she said. “Locally, I’ve been pushing for women getting their pap smears done.”

Early detection, she added, was how she was able to fight off cervical cancer herself.

“Now, my focus is to make sure I get all the women across the globe to do what they need to do and make sure they are no longer dying due to cervical cancer,” she said. “I’m alive, a survivor of 19 years, and they can do it as well.”