By Christopher Famous
Recently, I was having a conversation with a friend in relation to the midterm elections that were going on in the United States.
They asked me my predictions.
My reply was as follows: “Political consultants will continue to make big money from both winning and losing campaigns.”
I then asked them their predictions. The reply was simple and to the point.
“Women will rule the roost.”
As the night wore on and results started to come in, it was crystal clear that my friend had almost accurately predicted how the night would turn out.
There may not have been a blue tsunami as the Democrats hoped but there was a pink wave that swept the polls.
Not only did “women rule the roost”, but they, in all their diverse ways and means, helped to; set records, change the complexion of Congress and reset the bar as to what the future of politics, worldwide must look like.
Over the last few years there have been dramatic changes to the faces of parliaments and elected bodies worldwide.
Women have become much more politically active in not just grassroots or party level positions, but now rightfully more and more women are seeking and winning elected and appointed seats of political power.
Here are some prime examples:
● In Iceland, 47 percent of its parliament consists of women
● In the Caribbean island of Grenada, 47 percent of the legislature is comprised of women
● In the African country of Rwanda, 59 of 106 legislators are women
● In the African country of Ethiopia, 10 out of 20 Cabinet posts are held by women during a recent cabinet shuffle, Ethiopian women were given key posts:
“In a cabinet reshuffle on Tuesday (Oct. 16), Abiy cut the number of ministries from 28 to 20 and named 10 women among the new appointees. Women will now run key dockets including defence, trade, transport, and the newly-established ministry of peace that will tackle the wave of ethnic violence that has swept the country. Abiy said the move was meant to ‘show respect’ to the women’s participation in nation-building and to ‘disprove the adage that women can’t lead.’”
Part of the benchmarks set by the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarian network (CWP) is to see that there are an equal amount of women as there are men in parliaments within the Commonwealth.
Closer to home, throughout the Caribbean region women now hold all forms of political office:
● Prime Minister Mia Mottley of Barbados
● Premier Sharlene Cartwright-Robinson of Turks and Caicos Islands
● Speaker Ingrid Moses-Scatliffe of BVI
● Speaker Shirley Osbourne of Montserrat
● Speaker Laura Tucker-Longsworth of Belize
● Senator Zita Barnwell of St Vincent and the Grenadines
During my recent course in Canada, I met female MPs from; Australia, Isle of Man, Bougainvillea, Falkland Islands,St. Vincent, Turks and Caicos and Tasmania.
These ladies were astute politicians, who showed deep empathy for the persons that they represented in their respective home countries.
Currently, here in Bermuda we have the following positions filled by women:
● A total of 4 out of 11 senators including, The Senate President Mrs Joan Dillas-Wright and Government Senate Leader Mrs Kathy Lightbourne-Simmons.
● In the Lower House we have eight women MPs, including former leader of the Opposition Jeanne Atherden, Deputy Opposition Leader Leah Scott, MP Patricia Gordon-Pamplin, Opposition Whip Susan Jackson, Health Minister Kim Wilson, Government Labour Minister Lovitta Foggo, Renee Ming and MP Tinee Furbert.
Interestingly enough, each party has four women MPs, all of whom who advocated on behalf of women throughout their personal and political careers.
So, in total we have 12 women out of 47 legislators. This equates to roughly 25 percent, which is clearly way below CWP benchmarks.
Both political parties in Bermuda can and must do better to get more women, not only properly prepared for and interested in running for a seat but be given a fair chance at succeeding with winnable seats.
This can and must apply to all political parties throughout the Caribbean region.
As proven earlier this month, women can and will create their own ‘pink wave’ of political change.