EDITORIAL: Women rise!

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If the Barbados’ election were a sporting event, the announcers would have proclaimed it a whitewash. Thrilling but a whitewash nonetheless. Thirty-nil was the outcome for the new government, the Barbados Labour Party (BLP). The landslide victory saw the ouster of the former two-term Prime Minister, Freundel Stuart, and the triumph of Prime Minister-elect Mia Mottley who will become the eighth prime minister of Barbados and that country’s first female prime minister. This is a truly historic moment and we would like to congratulate Mottley on her fantastic achievement. Congratulations as well to all of the BLP candidates who were victorious.
The Barbados election was interesting and historic from Day One. The then-Prime Minister, Stuart, allowed Parliament to dissolve without a date for a new election for the first time in that country’s history. Then, the candidate list saw a record rise in the number of women vying for political office. Thirty-seven of the 135 candidates were women, with both the BLP and the United Progressive Party (UPP) going to the polls with strong women at the helm. Mia Mottley led the BLP while former BLP cabinet minister Lynette Eastmond led the UPP.
It is obvious that Barbados wanted change. Based upon early polling results, approximately 6.5 percent more voters turned out for the 2018 than turned out for the 2013 election. Whenever people turn out for an election, it is never good for the incumbent. But this is not an analysis of Barbados’ election nor the issues that carried Mottley and the BLP to victory, rather it is a celebration of the maturity of the Barbados people to see beyond gender to pick who they think is the best candidate to do the job. As we have congratulated Mottley and the BLP for the victory, we would also like to congratulate the Barbados people. 
This piece is not an endorsement of Mia Mottley or her policies because we do not like to get involved in the politics of other countries, but we would like to point out that the Prime Minister-elect is eminently qualified for the post, and we hope that her victory will encourage more women to seek public office; especially here in our bit of paradise. It is often said that men have had their shot and screwed-up for long enough so we should give women a try, but that should be seen more as a joke than a legitimate reason. The fact is, well educated and successful women are qualified, full stop. Let us just look at the resume of Mia Mottley to prove the point.
Mottley entered politics in 1991, where as a political debutant she lost by less than 200 votes to her political opponent. She sat as one of two opposition senators until 1994 when the BLP claimed victory in the general election of that year. She was appointed Ministry of Education, Youth Affairs and Culture under Prime Minister Owen Arthur at the tender age of 29. Success continued as she was elected General Secretary of the BLP in 1996 and in 2001, she was appointed Attorney General and Minister of Home Affairs and is the first female Barbadian to hold this position. She also holds the distinction of being the youngest Queen’s Counsel in Barbados.
If for some reason, you are not yet impressed, you should also note that she is a Member of the Privy Council of Barbados and was Leader of the House. She served as Barbados’s second female Deputy Prime Minister and in 2006 was appointed Minister of Economic Affairs and Development. Following Owen Arthur’s resignation, Mottley was chosen as the party’s leader in 2008. She became the first woman to lead the party, as well as the country’s first female Opposition Leader. She survived a battle with Owen Arthur for leadership of the party after she was ousted as Leader of the Opposition in favour of Arthur, but she resumed full leadership following the party’s narrow electoral defeat in the 2013 election.
We could go on, but Mottley’s achievements are just the underpinnings of who she is – a strong, independent Caribbean woman. And like all women who offer themselves for public service or any job for that matter, she, and they, should be judged for their character and their abilities, not their gender. For too long, many in the Caribbean have overlooked the ability of our sisters to contribute to nation building because we are lost in time and, dare we say, tradition. We believe that certain positions require a man’s touch or that only men have the abilities to function in certain jobs. It is time we dispense of those old ways of thinking and embrace the power of women’s intellect and abilities for the betterment of all. 
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