Women and politics

first_imgWomen play an integral role in the development of the world. They are fluid beings who manage to ascribe unto themselves all sorts of non-traditional roles that sharply conflict with conservative, conventional and traditional descriptions of what it means to be ‘female’ and a ‘woman’.As a matter of fact, women, over the past four decades, have sought to remove the barriers set by society, and in some cases religion, about the types of jobs and roles that they must play in order to maintain what some refer to a healthy ‘gender-balance’.In sharp retaliation, women have refused to be viewed as the weaker gender or sex; irrational, emotionally weak and incapable of leadership. They have broken so many barriers in order to prove to the world and menfolk what they have always known — they can do anything that a man does, just as good as he does it, or even better.In recent times, womenfolk have achieved much success in their fight for equality and gender parity, as well as equity. They have fought long and hard to be respected, but they know too well that men will not willingly relinquish whatever God-given claim they believe they have to the divine hallways of ‘power’, ‘authority’ and executive leadership on several global fronts.And so women internationally have set about to redefine the world they live in in order to prove that they, too, possess the divine ethos to lead, govern, and be respected, if not feared. According to Forbes Magazine, last year 100 women did just that, but out of that total, three emerges as the most powerful and influential in the world of politics. These women are the German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister Theresa May, and Taiwan’s President Tsa Ing Sung.No Caribbean woman featured on that list. And this is important, because only a few women within this hemisphere attempt to run for higher political office; and when they do, they have upset the norms and status quo of their respective parties in order to be selected or seen as possessing the qualities to run as Prime Minister or President. The race is most times more taxing on women than men. Portia Simpson-Miller, Kamla Persad-Bissessar and Mia Motely — respectively from Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados — understand this all too well. But these women, when given the chance, have rolled out remarkable reforms that have resulted in booming economies, the advancement of women and children’s rights, social progress, and law and order. But many of them have been outfoxed by their male counterparts, who most times attack their sex and their suitability to govern men, even if it is not explicitly said.At home, Janet Jagan led the way after becoming Guyana’s first female parliamentarian and Cabinet Minister (1953, 1957, 1961), before serving as the country’s first female President under the People’s Progressive Party (PPP). Winifred Gaskin and Shirley Field-Ridely are among others who soon followed.At the December 16, 1968 elections, some 212 names featured on the lists submitted by political parties, but only 23 were women (10.8 per cent). This number increased by 2.2 per cent in 1970, according to the University of West Indies, and by another three per cent by 1980. The numbers climbed in the early 1990s and 2000s. Today, over 34 per cent of all parliamentarians here are female.By throwing her hat in the race to become the People’s National Congress’s Presidential Candidate back in 2011, the late Dr Faith Harding was attempting again to change the status quo and politics of conventionalism in her party. Despite, the fact she failed, Dr Harding wanted to send a strong message to womenfolk here. That message was that they needed to do much more than be satisfied with ministerial appointments and parliamentary seats. If they wanted real change, they needed to steer the ship; fly the plane; lead the Parliament as Speaker and/or run the country. Also, Elizabeth Harper’s decision to accept nomination for the Prime Ministerial post in the PPP is nothing short of bold and admirable, though the PPP lost. The recent PNC Congress, too, where Volda Lawrence and Annette Ferguson clinched two of the party’s top posts, is also instructive.By their actions, they have paved the way for ‘the girl child’ and womenfolk to build confidence to go against the grain. Guyanese women are strong and fierce competitors. Whilst they thrive under Home Economics in the conventional sense, they also understand what Guyana needs to move it forward. Those women from the major political parties, who have long languished in the dark, must seize the moment and run for office in 2020. They must break the glass ceilings above their heads and at least shake-up the country’s political establishment.Too many of our women politicians are invisible. They must be seen and heard. 2020 may be the year when Guyanese utter the words Madam President or Madam Prime Minister again if they invest the political capital and funds needed into running a campaign using mainly women as their constituency.last_img read more