Sun | Oct 25, 2020

2020: A historic year for women in politics

Published:Wednesday | September 9, 2020 | 12:06 AM


Without question, one of the watershed moments of last week’s election was the election of a record-breaking 18 women to the House of Representatives. Never in Jamaica’s history has this many women been elected to serve in the House of Representatives. This development will undoubtedly bode well for the achievement of gender parity in politics and decision-making.

The issue of women’s under-representation in politics has always been a hot-button topic. It was most recently raised during the leadership debate of August 29, when veteran journalist Dionne Jackson Miller pointedly asked Dr Peter Phillips whether the next slate of senators he appoints would be comprised of 50 per cent women.

This political moment was notably preceded by Imani Duncan-Price’s audacious call for the introduction of gender quotas to “advance women’s leadership in politics and decision-making” when she served as a senator in 2014. Unsurprisingly, both political moments were followed by vigorous debate about the issue in the public domain, which (as is customary) later subsided.

While there are veritable institutional barriers which continue to impede women’s access to male-dominated bastions of political power, the results of the September 3 general election exemplified a modest shift in a decades-long political status quo. The outcome of the recently concluded election also said much about the political pulse of an increasingly conscious and forward-thinking electorate which sees women as equally competent to represent their interests.

Still, in spite of what is commendable progress, there is still some way to go before full gender parity is achieved within the political arena. For this reason, I sincerely hope that this important issue is one that we will continue to think about, talk about, and take concrete steps to address in the coming years.

All in all, however, 2020 – despite its freneticism – has so far proved to be a historic year for women in politics. This in itself should be a cause for celebration among all Jamaicans, irrespective of individual political leanings.