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Women are resetting the bar

Ruling the roost: women from diverse backgrounds have redefined what American politics will look like

I was having a conversation on Tuesday evening with a friend in relation to the midterm elections that were going on in the United States. They asked me my predictions. My reply was as follows: “Political consultants will continue to make big money from both winning and losing campaigns.”

I then asked them their predictions. The reply was simple and to the point: “Women will rule the roost.”

As the night wore on and results started to come in, it was crystal clear that my friend had almost accurately predicted how the night would turn out. There may not have been a blue tsunami as the Democrats hoped, but there was a pink wave that swept the polls.

Not only did “women rule the roost”, but they, in all their diverse ways and means, helped to set records, change the complexion of Congress and reset the bar as to what the future of politics worldwide must look like.

Over the past few years there have been dramatic changes to the faces of parliaments and elected bodies worldwide. Women have become much more politically active in not just grass roots or party-level positions, but now rightfully more and more women are seeking and winning elected and appointed seats of political power.

Here are some prime examples:

• In Iceland, 47 per cent of their parliament consists of women

• In the Caribbean island of Grenada, women comprise 47 per cent of the legislature

• In the African country of Rwanda, 59 of 106 legislators are women

• In the African country of Ethiopia, ten out of 20 Cabinet posts are held by women

During a recent Cabinet shuffle, Ethiopian women were given key posts.

“In a cabinet reshuffle on Tuesday [October 16], Abiy cut the number of ministries from 28 to 20 and named ten women among the new appointees. Women will now run key dockets, including defence, trade, transport, and the newly established ministry of peace that will tackle the wave of ethnic violence that has swept the country. Abiy said the move was meant to ‘show respect’ to the women’s participation in nation-building and to ‘disprove the adage that women can’t lead’.”— qz.com

Part of the benchmarks set by the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians network is to see that there is an equal amount of women as there are men in parliaments within the Commonwealth.

Closer to home, throughout the Caribbean region women now hold all forms of political office:

• Mia Mottley, Prime Minister of Barbados

• Sharlene Cartwright-Robinson, Premier of Turks & Caicos Islands

• Ingrid Moses-Scatcliffe, Speaker of the House in British Virgin Islands

• Shirley Osbourne, Speaker of the House in Montserrat

• Laura Tucker-Longsworth, Speaker of the House in Belize

• Zita Barnwell, a senator in St Vincent and the Grenadines

During my recent course in Canada, I met female MPs from Australia, Isle of Man, Papua New Guinea’s Bougainville, Turks & Caicos and Tasmania.

These women were astute politicians who showed deep empathy for the people they represent in their respective home countries.

At present, in Bermuda we have the following positions filled by women:

• Four out of 11 senators including Senate president Joan Dillas-Wright and Government Senate Leader Kathy Lynn Simmons

• In the Lower House, we have eight female MPs, including former Leader of the Opposition Jeanne Atherden, Deputy Opposition leader Leah Scott, Patricia Gordon-Pamplin, Opposition Whip Susan Jackson, health minister Kim Wilson, labour, social development and sport minister Lovitta Foggo, Renée Ming and Tinée Furbert.

Interestingly enough, each party has eight female MPs, all of whom having advocated on behalf of women throughout their personal and political careers.

So, in total we have 12 women out of 47 legislators. This equates to roughly 25 per cent, which is clearly well below CWP benchmarks.

Both political parties can and must do better to get more women not only properly prepared for and interested in running for a seat, but given a fair chance at succeeding with winnable seats. As proven this week, women can and will create their own wave of political change.

Christopher Famous is the government MP for Devonshire East (Constituency 11). You can reach him at WhatsApp on 599-0901 or e-mail at cfamous@plp.bm< /i>