Monday, January 17, 2011


Women and Politics

When I was a little girl politics and my world collided.Back then "upful' was the word and a relative was on the platform boldly going where few women had dared to go. Always a maverick, she had defied the conventional wisdom of the day by throwing her hat not only into the political ring but for a third party burdened by the dreaded communist stigma. I speak of course of the tireless Nelcia Robinson to whom I owe a debt of gratitude.

Women in politics or lack thereof is a topic that attracts considerable debate. While women are always at the forefront vocally supporting their parties the parliamentary representation remains minimal.Ivy Joshua blazed a trail as the first woman to win a parliamentary seat and went on to hold it in five consecutive elections. yet despite this phenomenal achievement she remains a name that is hardly ever mentioned or given the respect it deserves. In fact, too many believe that women in government began with Yvonne Francis Gibson or Rene Baptiste. The trailblazing Ivy Joshua, was to many a social outcast, with little or no formal education and a figure of ridicule.

Today with more access to education the put downs are more subtle. However, they are present. Women's lives are dissected, mocked for their weight and their dress in a way that most men are not. This sexism or violence as one family member calls it probably accounts for women's reluctance in entering the fray; although last election saw 7 women on the Green Party's slate. However, that occurrence is an exception more than the rule. Despite all of this even as an apathetic political follower I believe more women's voices are needed in parliament.

So with much interest I followed the GHS lecture series where one of our distinguished alumna Ambassador Betty King,appointed by Barack Obama was delivering on said topic. Given that we had just come off a testy election campaign where one woman was elevated to the post of deputy PM and two others were appointed opposition senators interest was high. While I appreciated her shining the light on violence against women I came away feeling cheated because the reasons for women shying away from politics were not explored.

Neither were the challenges women face in a male dominated field explored.For that matter the Vincentian context was not even touched. To me it was not enough to put the figures out there without offering up some theories. While it is true that for every Eugenia Charles et al many others fail on the flip side did they succeed by trading in (in the public's view) their femininity. So pardon me if I felt shortchanged because I just didn't think the debate went far enough.

First off, when I heard the topic of the lecture I, like you, was keen. This is one of the many areas in our history that remains shrouded. Secondly,while watching the lecture I felt that with all due respect, the Ambassador was not the best person to give that lecture. The best person to give that lecture was Ms. Nelcia Robinson, she is adept with historical knowledge of SVG as well as political knowledge that would have done more than justice to the topic. I felt like this was an opportunity well missed for us to learn a bit about our history. I felt none the wiser about women in politics in Vincy and I am hoping that perhaps someone could organise this.International Women's day soon come in Mrach no? Perhaps then.
Then I hear people saying the lecture was so brilliant and I wonder if we heard the same thing. Recently NCW had some panel discussions on women in politics and girl very few people were in attendance at UWI.
Dont you just hate it when you go in thinking a lecture is going to be about one thing and they never really get to the meat of the matter.
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