Sat | Dec 16, 2017

ECJ joins Commonwealth Forum on women’s political participation and leadership

Published:Friday | July 14, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Dorothy Pine-McLarty

The Electoral Commission of Jamaica (ECJ) is one of several institutions from the region that took part in a forum on Women's Political Participation and Leadership in the Commonwealth Caribbean.

The meeting took place last Friday in Barbados. ECJ Chairman Dorothy Pine-McLarty, who had been invited to make a presentation on 'Gender Inclusiveness: The Role and Reach of Election Management Bodies in the Commonwealth Caribbean', represented the ECJ via Skype. She was in the virtual company of former Prime Minister of St Kitts and Nevis Dr Denzil Douglas, and Senator Kerry-Ann Ifill, president of the Senate, Barbados House of Assembly.

Pine-McLarty, in her presentation, emphasised the importance of equal opportunity for women to become actively involved in political leadership and governance.

"It should not be that in relation to tertiary education, women are excelling every-where across the region, yet the door remains half open when it comes to politics. It should not be that in relation to leadership in business, women are excelling across the region, yet the door remains half open when it comes to politics," she said.

She also spoke about the role campaign financing is expected to play in levelling the playing field financially for women who wish to run for political office. She urged Commonwealth Caribbean member states to make campaign financing a priority.

"Far-reaching recommendations by the ECJ in Jamaica to streamline campaign financing should, we believe, begin to remove the hurdles women face in relation to access to financial resources to run for political office. We have been working on this for more than 11 years. Therefore, countries should embark on the necessary deliberations without delay," Pine McLarty said.

... Place qualification, eligibility ahead of gender

Dorothy Pine-McLarty, chairman of the Electoral Commission of Jamaica, has cautioned that where the implementation of gender quotas in the Caribbean are concerned, qualification and eligibility should be placed ahead of gender. This, she said, is in order not to sacrifice quality of representation for gender, whether male or female.

She reminded participants of the forum on Women's Political Participation and Leadership in the Commonwealth Caribbean that election-management bodies must not lose sight of their responsibility as guardians of the democratic process, even in promoting gender parity for women.

The workshop was designed to, among other things, chart a possible way forward for mobilising political will and building the capacity of political parties, election-management bodies and other relevant stakeholders to enhance women's political participation and leadership.