THE local chapter of a regional advocacy group for women has raised concern about the resignation of Lanisha Rolle from Cabinet and her subsequent replacement by a male parliamentarian.
Yesterday, the Caribbean Women in Leadership Bahamas Chapter (CIWiL) expressed dismay about the development and said it is disappointed the government did not ensure women representation in Parliament was not further deteriorated.
Mrs Rolle, who resigned on Tuesday without giving a reason, was the only woman in Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis’ Cabinet. She has been replaced by Central Grand Bahama MP Iram Lewis.
“The recent Cabinet appointment of a man, to fill the vacancy emanating from the resignation of Hon Lanisha Rolle, gives rise to grave concerns,” the group noted in a statement.
“Women face great challenges and barriers in political life and often must make more sacrifices than their male counterparts to continue their work of national service. We applaud women who accept the mandate for public service. We wish Mrs Rolle all the very best as she continues to represent the people of the Sea Breeze constituency in the House of Assembly.
“CIWiL is extremely disappointed that the government did not ensure that the small percentage of women representation in Parliament and Cabinet, being 13 percent and 6 percent respectively, was not further deteriorated. By not replacing former Minister Rolle with another woman, the Cabinet of The Bahamas is without representation of fully one half of the electorate.
“This is extremely unbalanced and concerning, especially in these times of enlightenment when it is not only clear world-wide but also mandated by the many international conventions to which the government is a party, that equality in leadership is necessary for good governance and to ensure that women and girls are fully and properly represented.
“In this regard, we urge the Prime Minister to assess and monitor his party’s obligation, commitment and promise to the Bahamian people to increase the representation of women in parliamentary and Cabinet leadership.”
The group also urged all political parties to take note of these same obligations in light of the pending general election.
“We urge compliance with the commitments made under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, as well as other relevant United Nations summits and conferences, including the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) and its Programme of Action, international frameworks and conventions such as the 2030 Sustainable Development Goal 5 (SDG5): to achieve gender equality and to empower all women and girls.”
The statement added, “CIWiL calls on the government of The Bahamas to not further disenfranchise the women and girls of The Bahamas by lessening our representation to naught, at the highest seat of decision making in the country. We absolutely have earned and deserve a place at the table.”
CIWiL is a non-partisan and independent nongovernmental organisation, established to monitor and strengthen the work of increasing women’s political participation in the region through advocacy, networking, research and capacity building.