By RICARDO WELLS
Tribune Staff Reporter
ATTORNEY Marion Bethel, the wife of Progressive Liberal Party leadership candidate and former Attorney General Alfred Sears, said she is “ready” for the responsibility and accountability that comes with her husband’s announcement that he intends to challenge Prime Minister Perry Christie for the party’s top post.
Referring to her husband’s bid, Mrs Bethel indicated that she and Mr Sears intend to assist in the overall development of the country.
“I am ready to keep helping The Bahamas develop and move on and join the big players in the world because that is what we are entitled to do and that is what we can do,” she said.
“I think I am ready to give my best to that, to make my contribution,” she added.
Her comments came during an interview on the sidelines of a courtesy call on Mr Christie, the incumbent leader her husband seeks to defeat at the PLP’s five-day convention scheduled for November at the Melia Nassau Beach Resort.
The convention is the party’s first since 2009.
Moreover, Wednesday’s courtesy call served as the government’s official acknowledgement of her recent election to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), a post she said that would further give her opportunities to advance the rights of women, both abroad and here in The Bahamas.
The noted attorney reassured Mr Christie that her election to the CEDAW post would only strengthen her personal mandate to expand The Bahamas’ understanding, appreciation and advocacy of human rights for all Bahamians and persons living in The Bahamas.
Mrs Bethel called for a stronger civil participation on the part of women across the country.
Reflecting on June’s failed gender equality referendum, Mrs Bethel said it was clear that weaknesses within women’s institutions and women’s organisations in the Bahamas had handicapped any possibility of holistic gender equality.
The Sears & Co Chambers partner asserted that women who hold top positions in society should come together to “really work on these issues of gender equality and non-discrimination on the basis of sex.”
“And so, I think strengthening our civil society, particularly women’s institutions is vital; it is vital to the progress of this country,” she said.
Mrs Bethel added: “I do think that the women’s institutions that we have here, the women‘s societies really need to think about gender equality and non-discrimination on the basis of sex as a central pillar of their work. I think that may help to make the difference.”
She continued: “I think that women really need to step up to the plate. I think that we need to increase our participation in public life, particularly at the parliamentary level and in politics and in decision-making at all levels in institutions in this country.”
“I encourage young women to really prepare ourselves to do this kind of work. We are 50 per cent of the population here, we vote in higher numbers and we are the pillars of political parties, we are the pillars of the churches – most institutions, but we don’t have the power and we need to exercise that sense of entitlement to make decisions.”
Mrs Bethel was among 11 experts elected to serve on the United Nations’ CEDAW committee in June.
Subsequent to being unanimously nominated as The Bahamas’ candidate for the post, Mrs Bethel received the endorsement of the entire CARICOM institution and received widespread support from many Asian, African and European countries – ultimately being selected from the group of 25 candidates in the second round of the electoral process.
The CEDAW convention is composed of 23 independent experts serving in their personal capacity, all tasked with monitoring the implementation of the convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women by involved parties.