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GUEST COLUMN: Women – No. 1 gender


Frank da Silva

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A study of history illustrates that men for centuries exercised control within their families, tribes and nations. 
I am told that not so long ago in Barbados that the boy child within the family was the one who got the education while his female siblings would often have kept the house clean and have had to make do without the best education.
There has been a dramatic change in Barbados and much of the world as well and perhaps we need to be honest and recognise the peaceful and welcome paradigm development that has occurred where our womenfolk have more than earned the position as the No.1 gender.
A lot of us refer back to grandmothers and their stabilising force, even today. With free education there appears to have been an upward surge where women are fulfilling their potential to be highly educated. 
And, the approximate 80 per cent of women against men in university-level education is overwhelming evidence that, with experience, our womenfolk will continue to increase their influence and leadership in many aspects of our country.
You see this in the professions – doctors, lawyers, engineers, and so on. You see it in the private and public sectors. And I am predicting you will see it emerging in our highly respected labour movement. You see it too in the context of religion. You see it in the majority of our families and I believe you will soon see it in politics.
Our country owes a debt of gratitude to the pioneers among our womenfolk who entered what appeared to be a man’s turf and made contributions to the political life of this country. We owe a debt of gratitude to those ladies. I can think of Dame Billie Miller, Hon Maizie Barker-Welch and others. 
More recently, Dr Esther Byer-Suckoo has emerged in the political party of her choice as someone with considerable leadership potential.
Her resolution at the last Annual Conference of the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) will set the foundation for at least ten of the DLP candidates in the upcoming General Election to be women. I look forward to the Barbados Labour Party matching this number if they can.
What is refreshing is that the culture of politics over a number of years seems to be rising in quality and standard and will not continue to be a blood-sport as some would perceive it to be. I would urge members of the No.1 gender – women – to understand that a political platform is the best basis for those who are so inclined to make an outstanding contribution to our country.
For instance, there must be an end to violence against women, and where it exists, against men, through education, reorientation of our roles towards each other and where necessary, by punishment that will send a clear message.
I look forward to the initiative by Byer-Suckoo to result in immediate action to start recruiting and developing political candidates from the No.1 gender.
The time has come for us to jettison the totally outdated concept that politics must remain to a large extent a male activity. 
I look forward to the General Election 2013 so that, among other things, women can demonstrate to a significant extent their better leadership qualities.
• Frank da Silva is a member of the Democratic Labour Party and a former high commissioner.

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