Twelve is probably the most significant number known to man. Whether in science, religion, mythology or time, it is the one number that recurs regardless of culture, race or creed. In science, for example, the average human body has 12 cranial nerves and 12 ribs. And we still count 12 inches as a foot despite using the metric system. In the world’s best known religions, 12 predominates too. In Christianity, Jesus had 12 disciples – each representing one of the 12 tribes of Israel. In the book of Revelations in particular, the references to the number are numerous, including 12 gates and 12 angels. And, of course, there are the 12 days of Christmas. In Twelver Shi’a Islam, there are 12 Imams, legitimate successors of the prophet Muhammad. In Orthodox Judaism, 12 signifies the age a girl matures. And in Hinduism, the sun god Surya has 12 names. In Greek mythology Hercules had 12 labours, while the 12 Olympians were the principal gods of the pantheon. And the fabled King Arthur of England is said to have subdued 12 rebel princes and won 12 great battles against Saxon invaders. As for time, 12 is the amount of months in a year, hours on a clock face, the signs of our zodiac, and the Chinese use a 12-year cycle for time-reckoning called Earthly Branches. For Barbadians in the midst of general elections, the number 12 is significant too. It will be the 12th national poll since the formation of the ruling Democratic Labour Party (DLP) in 1955 and the first time in our political history that 12 women have been nominated to contest seats. The 12 – five from the DLP and seven from the opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) – embody in their backgrounds, professions, marital and familial situations the evolution and substance of Barbadian womanhood. They represent the essence of femininity and reflect the strength of character that has sustained families and homes here for generations. Of the 12, four are attorneys, two are educators, two are administrators, two are business people, one is a doctor and the other a dentist. In terms of family life, seven are mothers, two are grandmothers, four are married, two are divorced and one is a widower. Politically speaking, five are first time candidates, while it would be the second time for four others. Four have served as Cabinet ministers, while one has acted on a number of occasions in that position. Interestingly, it will be the first time that there will be a faceoff in two constituencies between female candidates representing the two main parties. The five DLP candidates are Dr Esther Byer-Suckoo – St George South; Patricia Inniss – St Michael North East; Irene Sandiford-Garner – St Andrew; Mara Thompson – St John; and Verla Depeiza – Christ Church West. The seven BLP hopefuls are Mia Mottley – St Michael North East; Santia Bradshaw – St Michael South East; Lynette Eastmond – St Philip West; Dr Maria Agard – Christ Church West; Margo Durant-Callender – Christ Church West Central; Cynthia Forde – St Thomas; and Sandra Husbands – St James South. Depeiza, a first-timer, will be battling another newcomer in Agard, while Byer-Suckoo, the senior of the DLP five as she is the first female DLP Cabinet minister, will again be facing another male opponent in the BLP’s Dwight Sutherland, a first timer. For three others it’ll be a sense of deja vu. Thompson would be defending the seat she won via a by-election in 2011 against the same male opponent, Hudson Griffith, while Sandiford-Garner will be trying to unseat veteran George Payne whom she narrowly lost to in 2008 by 43 votes. And Inniss will have her hands full trying to unseat Mottley again. For the BLP, first-timer Bradshaw will be against another newbie, Patrick Tannis, in what is expected to be one of the most keen contests. Eastmond and Husbands will be doing battle against DLP titans Dr David Estwick and Donville Inniss, respectively, while Durant-Callender will be seeking to unseat Stephen Lashley. As for Forde, she would be defending her bedrock BLP seat against first-timer Rolerick Hinds.