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Gender equality in the Caribbean

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Maria Bird-Browne, wife of the Antigua & Barbuda prime minister, and herself an MP

In the twin-island nation of Antigua & Barbuda, a General Election was held on January 18. Going into the election, the ruling Antigua Barbuda Labour Party held 15 of the total 17 seats. The remaining seats were split between the United Progressive Party and the Barbuda People’s Movement.

With a population of 105,000, there were 61,000 eligible voters heading to the polls, which opened at 6am. An interesting note is that those heading to polling stations were not allowed to wear clothing that reflects the colours of their respective parties. The party colours are as follows: ABLP (red), UPP (blue), BPM (yellow).

Another interesting point is that, unlike Bermuda, each constituency has several polling stations, with some seats having as many as 15 ballot boxes. This may be because of the attempt to reduce the number of voters waiting in line. This also leads to the results taking longer in some areas.

When the dust had settled, the seat allocation was as follows: ABLP 9, UPP 6, BPM 1, with one seat going to independent candidate Asot Michael. Both Gaston Browne, the Prime Minister, and his wife, Maria Bird-Browne, retained their seats. Sir Robin Yearwood, first elected in 1976, also kept his seat, thus making him one of the longest-serving parliamentarians in the Commonwealth.

Pink wave

On December 6, 2022, a General Election was held in the Republic of Dominica. There the ruling Dominica Labour Party fielded a full slate of 21 candidates. The opposition United Workers Party, seemingly unprepared, decided to successfully boycott the contest.

Dominica has a population of 75,000 with 60,000 registered voters. On nomination day, there were six seats uncontested that immediately were awarded to the DLP. In total, 45 candidates were nominated. The DLP had 21 candidates, with five candidates for Team Unity Dominica, and there were also 19 independent candidates.

On election, day there were a total of 115 polling stations, with each of the 15 constituencies being contested having multiple polling stations. When all ballots were counted, the DLP increased its seat count from 18 to 19, with two independent candidates winning in areas that were traditional UWP strongholds.

Melissa Poponne Skerrit, the wife of the Dominican prime minister and herself an MP

Roosevelt Skerrit, the Prime Minister, and his wife, Melissa Poponne Skerrit, retained their seats to give the DLP 19 of the total 21 seats. Of note, there were ten elected to parliament, including Opposition leader Jesma Paul. This would mean Dominica has achieved gender equality with regard to political representation.

Other countries will do well by following its lead by having more women come forward to run as political candidates.

Christopher Famous is the government MP for Devonshire East (Constituency 11). You can reach him on WhatsApp at 599-0901 or e-mail at carib_pro@yahoo.com

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Published January 27, 2023 at 7:58 am (Updated January 26, 2023 at 3:37 pm)

Gender equality in the Caribbean

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