By Heidi Badenock, barrister-at-law & solicitor
Statistics say that women make up approximately 50% of the population of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and even more importantly 50% of persons who are able to vote. Statistics also say that women are more likely to vote and to mobilise others to vote.
This was evident fresh out of general elections where we recognised that women were at the forefront of political rallies and stood as the backbone of our main political parties.
Our women can be found in many leadership positions in SVG from permanent secretaries to directors to managers to principals. Our women can be found everywhere except our cabinet.
On Tuesday, Nov. 10, an all-male cabinet was announced, and the first flag question was what of our women? During this election cycle, the ruling ULP had two accomplished women on their ticket, who albeit suffered defeat at the polls. The backbone of the ULP also continues to be a host of impressive women who are more than competent to assist in guiding and developing policy in our country.
Now is this just about putting women into positions?
Recently a post was sent to me “To vote for a woman because she’s a woman, is the same as to not vote for her because she’s a woman. Equally sexist” and I was asked what my thoughts were.
Ultimately, I agreed because I do not support token feminism, but I agreed with this qualifier. “I know that 90% of the times a woman is not placed in an electable position by virtue of her gender, because there will always be a man who considers himself more capable. So a woman is never electable just because she is a woman, it generally is because she is doubly competent.”
The question can be easily asked whether women are not able to still make a contribution to nation building and development outside the Cabinet, and the answer is yes but the follow up to that is why in 2020, do our women have to still sit outside to contribute.
This is in no way intended to ignore that over the years accomplished women have been part of our government, but 41 years into Independence, it is concerning that one is still able to count the women who have been part of the house on one’s hands.
Now it is difficult enough for women to step forward into the political limelight where she is critically examined from her head to her toe. Women are criticised for their sexual partners, husbands, their wombs, their hair, their shape, everything BUT their ability to do the job.
On the flipside our men can do everything under the sun, publicly berating women, have multiple partners within their marriages, calling women out of their names, be of unscrupulous character and save from a miniscule subset of the population, no questions are asked, no concerns are raised. We jump and scream in support of our male candidates while we monitor the reproductive organs, sexuality, and sexual lives of our women.
Unfortunately, it appears as if we are still of the view that women should be subject to a standard higher than men and, unfortunately, we will continue to lose out from the guidance and insight that can only be brought by our women.
Nations such as Germany and New Zealand have seen the impact of women in government. Even the United States will have its first female vice-president, as the world pushes forward, are we moving backward?
I am cautiously optimistic that in the next election cycle that we would have moved on from this myopic thinking and begin rallying around the women who have given and continue to give so much to our nation.
To our women, we are good enough. People already say women do everything so we might as well do one more thing and run our country!
The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the opinions or editorial position of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected].