British Virgin Islands

Wednesday, Oct 20, 2021

The rise of Caribbean women in politics

Thomas C. Famous

"I'll rise like the day"

"I'll rise up"

"I'll rise unafraid."

"I'll rise up."

"And I'll do it a thousand times again."

Andra Day

Over the last 100 years, women worldwide have rejected the male-imposed shackles dictating what they can or cannot be.

Those who wished to become doctors, lawyers, teachers, pilots, engineers or any other profession have done so.

Those that wished to become preachers, undertakers, business owners, or media moguls, have done so.

In the political arena, those that have wished to become Senators, Congresswomen, Members of Parliament, Presidents of the Senates, Speakers of the House of Assembly, Premiers, or Prime Ministers have done so.

They have done so, not just with their own willpower and determination, but with the aid, assistance, and mobilisation of a network of other women, who are able and willing to work in every capacity to ensure success.

Networks of women

Whether it be; the Aunt doing bake sales to raise money to send her Niece to university or the Mother painstakingly guiding her Daughter through the stages of adulthood.

Yes, the ever-present network of sisters, cousins, and friends, or any combination thereof, that go out to hand out flyers, set up meetings, and yes, protest when needed.

In the year 2021, the message is clear, Caribbean women are taking their rightful place in local and regional politics.

Look at Hon. Prime Minister Mia A. Mottley of Barbados as a prime example of a regional powerhouse.

Any political strategist will know this to be accurate; women make up 52 percent of the population and at least 60 percent of those who consistently vote. Therefore, it is virtually impossible to win any election unless most women of that country support a given candidate or party.

Look at what happened in Georgia and, by extension, in America, during the 2020 elections, with the massively successful voter mobilization, led by Stacy Y. Abrams.

Equally valid, is if a candidate or party falls out of favour with most women, their political future is over.

Regional overview

In the Turks and Caicos Islands, half of the Cabinet are women.

There are currently four women who sit in the House of Assembly in the Virgin Islands, three as elected members and one as Attorney General.

The [British] Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Jamaica, Monserrat, and Trinidad have had women as Speakers of the House.

In the Cayman Islands, 5 of the 19 MPs are women, one being Deputy Speaker and 2 being Cabinet Ministers.

Bermuda and Turks and Caicos Islands, and the Cayman Islands have seen multiple women rise to the highest political office of Premier.

In St Maarten, there have been two women Prime Ministers.

In Jamaica, St Vincent, and Trinidad, women occupy the positions of Speaker of the House. In Antigua, St Lucia, and Bermuda, the Presidents of their respective Senates are women.

These are well-known points of local, regional, and global leadership:

*  Women legislators exercise better organisational skills.

*  Women legislators seek resolution versus confrontation

*  Women legislators bring more reform and revise discriminatory laws against women, children, and vulnerable populations

Rise up

On a personal note, I owe much to the women in my family and community, who have been both the catalyst and backbone of my political career over the last ten years.

On an executive level, our party is essentially run by women. Both the Chair and the Deputy Chair positions are filled by two women who have dedicated most of their lives to gender equality and the social upliftment of all.

In closing, it will do well for all regional political entities to understand that Caribbean women are on the rise in every sphere of society. They are organised and can mobilise movements at a moment's notice when needed.

And like the song, they will do it a thousand times again.


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