Caribbean Currents: Barbados elects first female prime minister
Females have been making great strides across the globe in recent years in an effort to claim rights that have been denied to them for centuries. So it is very satisfying to see that sisters in the Caribbean islands are becoming trailblazers as well. Mia Amor Mottley, the newly elected prime minister of Barbados, just made history by becoming the first female prime minister.
Talk about knocking down barriers! She won the elections fair and square in May in what was considered a landslide victory. This gem and daughter of the Caribbean is an attorney who has been a member of Parliament for the constituency of St. Michael North East since 1994. She is the leader of the Barbados Labor Party and has also held offices including attorney general.
Shortly after coming into office, Mottley jumped into being a very proactive member of the Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM). At a recent meeting of six heads of Caribbean states in Montego Bay, Jamaica, she participated in signing an agreement that allows free movement within member states. It will also allow people who work across the region to have their immediate family join them in those jurisdictions.
Titled “The Protocol on Contingent Rights,” the agreement was also signed by Jamaica’s Prime Minister and Chairman of CARICOM Andre Holness, Prime Minister Allen Chastenet of St. Lucia, Dr. Keith Mitchell, prime minister of Grenada, President Delano Bouterse of Suriname, and Antonio Rodrigue, Haiti’s foreign minister, who signed on behalf of the president of Haiti.
Mottley was the only female among the CARICOM representatives. As one of the primary speakers at the conference, she challenged the other leaders. She complimented her colleagues for the work they did in the past, but questioned whether much progress has been made. Mottley pointed out that in some instances CARICOM did not appear to be making changes that are relevant to the lives of the people they serve. She said she wants the best for the Caribbean region, and one can easily conclude that she is confident that together the member states can make a difference.
“Our political leadership must facilitate and shepherd, not control and stifle,” she said in her address. “What is most needed, I am convinced, is for us to give our people the scope to express their natural inclination of togetherness and inclusion in ways that are productive and beneficial to the region as a whole.”
Pamela Henry is originally from Barbados and is a resident of Yeadon, Pa. Beaming with excitement, she said, “It is indeed a pleasure to congratulate the Hon. Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley and her administration for winning the last general elections. How exciting to welcome a female to this high office. During a recent vacation on the island I could see why it became necessary to have a change of government. It is known that since she was a child, it has been her dream to serve the country at the highest level. Politics and law are in her blood. She entered active politics in 1991, therefore paving the way for her to create history in Barbados.
“PM Mottley is a very determined, dedicated, hardworking and sincere person and it’s obvious why she has been chosen to be in the position that she holds,” Henry continued. “She is a young woman who has so much to offer in ‘Building the Best Barbados Together.’ Modern society needs the commitment to good governance more than ever and I am convinced that under her leadership there will be stability for the desired growth of the economy on the island.”
Will Mottley meet the expectations of Pamela Henry and the citizens of the island who are counting on her? Will she bring new ideas for a more effective CARICOM? Will the CARICOM males be willing to work with a learned, qualified and confident “sister”?
We give the CARICOM leaders the credit they deserve, but going forward this organization must be intentional and strategic in order to weather not just the political storms but the natural storms as well. These men have been talking about unification over the years; will it take a sistah with an aptitude to get the wheels turning in the right direction? Mottley may be just who they need.