Embracing women in power

  • The fairer sex: Queen Elizabeth II is the world’s longest-serving monarch and a standard bearer for women (Photograph by Alastair Grant/AP)

    The fairer sex: Queen Elizabeth II is the world’s longest-serving monarch and a standard bearer for women (Photograph by Alastair Grant/AP)

I have been pondering over the proper if not adequate term to describe the rise in all spheres of feminine public roles. In that regard can I use the term “The embrace of women and femininity” rather than the female “rise in stature” on the business and political level.

I don’t know another term that does not imply rivalry where there should be natural evolution and harmony.

A week ago there was the 100-year anniversary celebrating adult suffrage for women in the United States, which is empirical evidence of the struggle of women to be just included, let alone trusted with power.

Any who understand the importance of history and the written or oral accounts from which history is recorded, would know that women in too many instances were either under-referenced or completely written out of the facts of history, and their story remained untold.

For women, it truly is a case of “up from the ashes” because no true history would exist if it were not for the participation of women.

Women are figuratively and literally the womb of the society; it is no real wonder that many of the relics of prehistory and of antiquity display female gods.

Just like language evolved from primitive observance and resonance to environmental sounds, what became the societal roles of women and men followed the same patterns. The very anatomy of men and women pre-staged what their roles would be in an evolutionary fashion that was and continues to evolve.

However, female leaders are not new to the planet, particularly as evidenced within the British Empire. There are whole eras such as the Victorian or Elizabethan that define ages, such as the Georgian.

We have the incumbent, Queen Elizabeth II, who is to date the longest living monarch. Not too long ago we had Margaret Thatcher, and we have now Angela Merkel, of Germany, Jacinda Ardern, of New Zealand, and several others who have graced the world stage.

However, in most of those cases, we are talking about parliamentary democracies and in the case of the Queen, by inheritance and for the others chosen by a caucus.

The challenge is having a female leader under a presidential-style government, and in general increasing the complimentary representation in parliamentary, senate or congressional seats.

To begin, within places such as Bermuda, the first hurdle is structural. So before we consider sexism, all the parties have either a six-person or eight-person selection committee that chooses who can run. These selection committees — usually male and female — draw the first line that determines who can serve, not the general public.

No child male or female can say “when I get older I am going to stand for office” as an inherent right. They can say they would like to get involved, but it will be up to others within a party to invite her or accept she or he. It is not the case where they can stand and allow their peers or fellow constituents to endorse their candidacy for any party they choose.

In real terms, we cannot begin to address the sexism issue in politics until there is equality and freedom for every person, male or female, to enter with full rights as a participant from the electorate. The choice to serve politically should be an inalienable right and not a privilege to be granted by a party.

Before any go down the road and say “here he comes attacking the party system”, this is not an attack on political parties as much as it is an attack on the structure of them with the hegemony they hold over what should be the individual liberties of the entire electorate.

It did not help that early in the beginning of party politics in Bermuda, the original idea in the making was aborted by a coup and later, after the 1965 kerfuffle, it drifted away from some original thoughts and then became re-created through the consultation and guidance of a communist party person whose format was highly authoritarian.

To compound matters a second party formed, which ultimately became the leading party for 30-plus years, whose construct was not too dissimilar. They both were centrally led, both made up of paid membership, both with six or eight-member selection committees that developed “approved candidates” — neither advocating broad-based leadership endorsement.

Essentially, membership clubs that led to political elitism and a political class with loyalties drawn from a fraction of the public enrolled as active participants. The largest single class of the electorate being the non-partisans, who, notwithstanding their inactive partisan position, invariably vote for either of the political class.

As a matter of preserving historical truth, I am retelling that the original leaders of the Progressive Labour Party considered themselves only as provisional leaders because in their opinion, back in early 1963, as a new group, they had not completed the party branches and clarified the structure of the party — and would not have done so until all the branches were completed and had the time to fully collaborate on the kind of structure that gave the support base equal voice throughout the island.

The desired geometric design, as described to me by the first leaders, was based on the notion that all members — or citizens — under a flag are to be equidistant to that flag. However, that principle was not the resultant end and because of an early conflict, it morphed to another design, which has since become traditional without a trace or even memory of the thoughts in its beginning.

OK, there were factions and other thoughts, but it was very possible and even probable that had party politics begun on some of the original ideas, that there might, by natural selection, have been more women participating today and less division between labour and business class. And the representation would have been based more on merit and less on loyalty.

The existing design is inherently responsible for creating the polarisation and division that has bedevilled our efforts to be a diverse but united country.

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Published Sep 5, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated Sep 5, 2020 at 8:00 am)

Embracing women in power

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