HOW soon will there be a woman leading the police force?
Well, we wouldn’t bet on it in a hurry, let’s put it that way. As Paul Rolle rose to the rank of acting deputy commissioner, paving the way for him to perhaps take the top job in future, the question was raised about how long it might be before a woman ascends to the role.
On the face of it, Minister of National Security Marvin Dames’ answer ticked the right boxes. “I hope soon,” he says, and that he is “all about gender equality”.
But when asked if a woman is a contender for the post of deputy commissioner, the answer was more to the point. “I don’t know. I don’t have the answer to that right now.”
Well, perhaps you should know, Mr Dames. Perhaps you should consider another question. What are you doing to encourage promotion of women through the ranks? Are women being given the opportunity for leadership training – and the chance of leadership positions?
If they are, then the leading candidates ought to be well known to the minister.
Saying “may the best person win” sounds even-handed, but it isn’t always so. Some face more barriers than others in the race to prove themselves to be the best person – a 100m race with hurdles rather than the clear run others have given.
Indeed, it’s hard to have great faith in an even playing field when you look across to the House of Assembly that the minister sits in and see the absence of significant numbers of female MPs or members of the Cabinet.
The wider political landscape has hardly been encouraging – with the resounding rejection of proposals in the gender equality referendum. If Bahamian women are voting against their own interests, then it’s clear there is a long way to go.
So you’ll forgive us for thinking that Mr Dames’ answer sounds just a little patronising, a pat on the head rather than a genuine encouragement.
If it were genuine, then we hope he will come to the microphone again and laud the steps being taken within the police force to advance women in the ranks.
Let’s have action, please, not just another pat on the head.
We look forward to the day when a woman takes on the role of top police officer in the land – but we’re not betting on it happening any time soon.