PM calls for more women in Parliament, Cabinet

PM calls for more women in Parliament, Cabinet

Minnis says he will work to identify women being elected to office

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Giving executives within the Free National Movement a charge to develop a new generation of female leaders within the party, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis said yesterday that more women need to run for seats in the House of Assembly and to serve as Cabinet ministers as a matter of “great urgency”.

“This is a matter of great urgency,” said the prime minister, while attending the FNM Women’s Association Installation.

“I will work with the women’s association and others to help to identify and to promote more women being elected [to] office.

“Like the Torchbearers, the women’s association has as its charge to bring a new generation of leader to the FNM.

“Last week’s torchbearers convention was an overwhelming success.

“The convention was bigger and more dynamic than the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) national convention the week before.

“We were all so proud of our young people, who organized and produced a spectacular convention.

“The convention was filled with many new voices who want to be a part of the FNM’s new vision for young people and for the country.”

Minnis said the FNM has a better record of advancing the rights of women than the PLP.

He said past PLP’s administration have paid mostly lip service to the advance of women.

There have been widespread calls from domestic and international bodies for increased participation of women in politics, but the representation in the House of Assembly over successive governments has reflected a severely disproportionate number of men to women.

The percentage of women elected to Parliament in the nation is well below the United Nation’s minimum quota of 30 per cent.

Only 12 per cent of parliamentarians at current are women.

Of the 194 nominated candidates in the May 2017 election, 40 or 21 per cent were women.

Of the 39 members of Parliament, there are only five who are women — four governing members and one opposition.

Additionally, of the 19 Cabinet ministers, only one woman is among them — Minister for Youth, Sports and Culture Lanisha Rolle.

The other governing parliamentarians include MICAL MP Miriam Emmanuel, West Grand Bahama MP Pakesia Parker-Edgecombe and Fox Hill MP Shonel Ferguson.

Glenys Hanna-Martin, the member of Parliament for Englerston, is the only female opposition member.

The Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) has pledged that women will represent at least 30 percent of its slate of candidates to run in the next general election.

Gender equality

Reflecting on the Ingraham administration when it came to office in 1992, Minnis said the FNM require that “male and female officers engaged in the public services be treated equally regardless of marital status”.

“The FNM did that, not the PLP, even though they had 25 years to promote equality,” Minnis charged.

“The FNM ‘ended the practice, whereby male public officers were routinely promoted over women, and winning higher salaries, because they were seen as the principal bread-winner’, even though it was often a woman who was the main bread-winner.

“The FNM did that, not the PLP, even though they had 25 years to promote equality.

“The FNM abolished the dower and made surviving spouses, regardless of gender, heir to the matrimonial home.

“The FNM did that not the PLP, even though they had 25 years to promote equality.

“Following the 1997 election both the Speaker of the House of Assembly and the President of the Senate were female. The FNM did that not the PLP, even though they had 25 years to promote equality.”