Column: The Rise Of Women In Regional Politics

April 26, 2021

[Opinion column written by MP Chris 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 around the world 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 mobilization of a network of other women, who are able and willing to work in every capacity to ensure success.

The Rise Of Women In Regional Politics Bermuda April 23 2021

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.

And 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 staking their rightful place in both local and regional politics.

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

Any political strategist will know this to be true: 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 the majority of 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 Abrams.

Equally true is if a candidate or party falls out of favour with the majority of women, their political future is over.

Regional overview

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

In Both Jamaica 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.

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, with 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.

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

  • Women legislators exercise better organizational 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 10 years.

On an executive level, our party is essentially run by women, as 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 organized and can mobilize movements at a moment’s notice when needed.

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


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