IN two separate articles in today’s Tribune, the question of gender in politics is raised.
First, former Leader of the Opposition Loretta Butler-Turner says that our nation “is weak” when it comes to gender balance in politics. She points out the absence of female leadership in government in the past 20 years.
In her column this week, Alicia Wallace takes the issue further – to the very biases we are raised with, and how we raise our children with different expectations.
The simple truth is that our Parliament at present does not represent our nation when it comes to demographics. There is only one woman serving in Cabinet, for example. Things do not look like they’re going to get much better after the next election – with less than 30 percent of candidates so far being women.
Missing are strong candidates such as Mrs Butler-Turner, for example. She has stressed she is not re-entering politics, but her presence was notable as she supported DNA leader Arinthia Komolafe after her arrest and release last week. She may not be in politics at present, but people still take notice and listen to what Mrs Butler-Turner has to say.
We should note, then, what she says when she tells us that politics is not easy on women. What to do about that? She suggests “promoting women within the political parties and secondly in terms of being able to have greater support networks for women so that they can be freer to devote a lot of time to representation”.
That may be so – but do we need to start even earlier than that? As Alicia Wallace points out in her column, she notes how children are taught to behave in different ways depending on whether they are boys or girls. As she says, “Boys’ leadership is nurtured and girls’ leadership is discouraged”.
In the end, of course, what we want is for our representatives to be the best. But in discouraging women, we are limiting the number of people we can choose from.
Our current leaders have made noises about more equality – but failing to back it up with more candidates suggests that is little more than lip service.
Mrs Butler-Turner goes on: “I think it was back in 1997 when we would have had the highest amount of women representing in Parliament. At that time, I think there was a 25 percent make up of women in Parliament.”
That’s it? That’s our best? Almost a quarter of a century ago and only a quarter of Parliament?
Whatever we’re doing now doesn’t seem to be changing things – so isn’t it about time for a proper discussion of that? Next time a political candidate knocks on your door or seeks out your vote, ask them what they personally are doing to increase the number of women in Parliament. See then if they deserve your vote.
Change doesn’t come unless we demand it.
Police the beaches
Our front-page headline yesterday caused a bit of a stir, it seems. Covidiots, it declared – but the point was not to just have a snappy headline, but to stir people out of the complacency many have fallen into.
In this column yesterday, we called not for a closing of the beaches, which would have been the obvious knee-jerk response to people congregating en masse in crowds without masks, but to police them.
It might be overdue – where were the police on Sunday on Cabbage Beach – but credit where it is due with the COVID-19 Enforcement Unit saying they will be on high alert over the Easter holiday. As they should be already, and as they should be after the holiday.
Chief Superintendent Zhivago Dames said: “You can expect the COVID ambassadors along with our officers from the Cable Beach Division especially in the Goodman’s Bay and Saunders Beach and those doing their duties out there to ensure that persons are following all of the health protocols.”
Good to hear. Our photographers will be ready too. We’ll be watching.