THE issue of women in politics has been in the air lately – and has been brought back to the surface by the departure of Lanisha Rolle, who was the only woman serving as a minister under Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis.
She has been replaced in the role by a man, Iram Lewis, and it looks very much like Mrs Rolle will no longer be the representative for Seabreeze for the next election.
This follows a batch of announcements for candidacies for both the FNM and the PLP where women were vastly outnumbered by their male counterparts. The DNA, of course, is led by a woman, Arinthia Komolafe, but it remains to be seen how much of an influence that party will have over the next election campaign.
The news of Mrs Rolle’s departure has prompted the Caribbean Women in Leadership Bahamas Chapter (CiWiL) to express dismay, saying: “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 organisation added: “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.”
It certainly seems as if we have gone backwards in The Bahamas from the time when Cynthia “Mother” Pratt served as Deputy Prime Minister.
The departure of Mrs Rolle has come with little protest from those she worked with – indeed there have been a number of comments about how difficult the minister could be to work with.
In terms of the representation of women, it seems the problem is not that the minister is departing – it’s that there are so few women in Parliament to take her place.
As noted recently by Tribune columnist Alicia Wallace, just 13 percent of Parliamentarians are women. A suggested quota of 30 percent has brought no action, and looks like it won’t be met in the latest round of election candidates either.
Talk is cheap when it comes to ensuring broader representation – especially when not matched by action. In fact, it’s an even greater disrespect to acknowledge a problem then do nothing about it.
It certainly looks like a long road before another woman takes up the title of Deputy Prime Minister – and a longer one still before the country chooses its first female leader.
With questions in the air about a shortage of representation of women in each party, what is each organisation doing right now to correct that imbalance? The answer to that question – or the absence of an answer – will tell you a lot more about how seriously women are being taken by each party than any amount of words and promises for the future.
Over to you, party leaders.
The spike of cases of COVID-19 in Abaco has led to a tightening of the curfew and travel guidelines. From Sunday, the curfew will start at 8pm instead of 10pm.
As we hope of course that the spike eases soon – with 23 cases reported in Marsh Harbour and 25 in Cooper’s Town – this is also a lesson to the rest of us, that hard-won gains can be lost again if we do not remain vigilant.
Some of the cases have been found at the Murphy Town Primary School, some at a construction site, and some originating from the Marsh Harbour Clinic.
It shows us how prevalent the virus remains in the country despite dwindling numbers in some locations – just as the news that former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham is also battling the virus is a reminder that it can reach any of us.
So keep following the advice of experts – keep wearing masks, keep washing hands regularly, and keep your distance from others.
Don’t give this virus a chance.