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A question of competence, not gender


A question of competence, not gender

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It has bothered me to respond to Maureen Holder’s question – “Is the nation seriously ready for a female Prime Minister?” – because the fact it was uttered, and uttered by a female, could provoke a “public mauling” of a woman for asking so asinine a question.

So I maintained a silence. As women we have struggled to be respected and to ascend. We have been robbed, denigrated, used and abused, and our value downplayed. But the article by Carol Martindale in last Thursday’s DAILY NATION has made me do a rethink on commenting on this issue, because most women I have spoken to have expressed disgust and contempt for this “ruse”, as they defined it. 

Like you, Carol, they believe Ms Holder wants to provoke a discussion about a specific woman rather than believe she missed the pulse of the Barbadian public as a political scientist.

Barbadians have already spoken and acted on this matter of leadership by females. Do we still have a distance to go? Yes we do.

Even apart from our political inclusion, when we cross over to the private sector we can include in your list Marion Williams, a former Central Bank governor; Eudine Barriteau, principal at the University of the West Indies Cave Hill Campus; Vivian-Anne Gittens the former chief executive officer at The Nation; Sue Springer, Roseann Myers, Bobbi McKay, and many others.

I myself was privileged to be elected by a membership that was primarily male at the time to head the Barbados Small Business Association. This is our first opportunity as Barbadians to have a female present herself for Prime Minister, and indications are that voters are likely to vote yes to a female leader.

Barbadians, quite pragmatically, want to evaluate readiness in terms of competence, experience, and vision of their next leader, whether male or female. If Ms Holder had stayed true to her training, then she would have presented to the public the two options for leadership. A leader with over ten years ministerial experience, Economic Affairs, Education, Culture & Sports, Attorney-General; who operates well under pressure, makes decisions and wins – the battle for Barbados’ maritime borders and the prison crisis; and has a vision for Barbados, which is effectively communicated and implemented whether it is culture or education – all of this long before she is Prime Minister.

By contrast the other choice is a leadership whose manifesto is intent, not a contract; fails to make good decisions; and refuses to communicate. There has been contempt for Barbadians, their intelligence and resources. We can like it or lump it. A series of under-performing ministers have failed miserably to steer the country out of trouble, and deepened our woes.

The choice is clear: a leader who was part of a successful top-performing Government versus a group who pleads for us not to judge them by the last ten years but on a very distant past.