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'Women make good managers' - Edwards wants more female ministers in next PNP government

Published:Monday | November 16, 2015 | 12:00 AMDaraine Luton
A group of women supporters of the People’s National Party during a rally in Portmore, St Catherine, on Sunday.

Jennifer Edwards, the president of the People's National Party Women's Movement, has declared that, in addition to having a female prime minister, she is hoping that women will take over critical ministerial portfolios such as national security and finance after the next general election.

"The Women's Movement looks forward to seeing the first female minister of finance of this country. After the next election, we look forward to seeing the next minister of national security being a female. We look forward to seeing the minister of transport and works being a female because, Comrades, we are not only good to care, we are good to manage," Edwards said on Sunday.

The two-time MP, while addressing a PNP mass rally in Portmore,

St Catherine, argued that women are "good to plan, we are good to lead and we are good to implement".

The declaration by Edwards would mean the reassigning of Dr Peter Phillips, Peter Bunting and Dr Omar Davies.

Phillips is currently the finance minister, Bunting the national security minister, and Davies the transport and works minister.

When Portia Simpson Miller became prime minister in 2006, it was the first time that Jamaica was having a woman political leader. No woman has ever been appointed finance minister or national security minister. Simpson Miller had previously carried the labour, social security and sports


Contacted yesterday, Edwards said that the call for women in the three key ministries has nothing to do with a lack of confidence in the current office holders.

"I am very proud of the performance of those ministers. My call is for females to be considered for those ministries that have traditionally not been headed by females," Edwards said.

"There is obviously a perception taken by us that those are hard ministries and, therefore, require skills that women do not have, but I am saying that we do have those skills," she added.

The Jamaica Labour Party's (JLP) Shahine Robinson was appointed transport and works minister following the resignation of Mike Henry in 2011. She served for one month. Edwards said that Andrew Holness, who as prime minister made the recommendation for the appointment, should be commended but it was a pity the appointment came so late in the life of the administration.

Of the five women MPs elected in 2011, two - Natalie Neita-Headley (minister without portfolio in Office of the Prime Minister) and Lisa Hanna (youth and culture) - were appointed to the Cabinet, while Sharon Ffolkes-Abrahams was made a junior minister in the industry ministry.

Simpson Miller also appointed Sandrea Falconer as de facto information minister from the Senate.

'Fear of failure'

Edwards said the prime minister might have been affected by the "fear of failure", arguing that she has had to operate in a political culture where there has been a tradition that males get the hard ministries.

"The prime minister might, herself, be operating in a fear of failure environment that if she puts a women there and that woman fails, she would be judged for making the wrong decision as we usually do. We don't give women a chance to fail in this society, [but] we are quite prepared to give the old boys a chance to fail not once, not twice, but over and over," Edwards said.

Meanwhile, the PNP will be fielding 12 female candidates in the next general election, four more than it did in 2011.

Five of these women are incumbents, another (Phyllis Mitchell - North East St Catherine) has previously served as MP, and the others are in virgin political territory.

Edwards charged the Comrades to "go out into the hills and valleys" and work hard to secure victory for the PNP.

"The future of women in Jamaica is tied up in the success of the People's National Party," she said.

"I want to remind the women of this country that the PNP has brought us to where we are as women. The PNP has opened doors for women to be educated. Had it not been for the policies of the People's National Party, many of us would still be in the kitchen," Edwards said.

PNP women candidates for the next election

Lisa Hanna - South East St Ann - Incumbent since 2007

Marsha Francis - Western St Thomas vs James Robertson

Portia Simpson Miller - South West St Andrew - incumbent since 1976

Jacqueline Taylor O'Gilvie - North Central St Andrew vs Karl Samuda

Natalie Neita Headley - North Central St Catherine - incumbent since 2007

Denise Daley - Eastern St Catherine - incumbent since 2011

Phyllis Mitchell - North East St Catherine - MP 1993 and 1997 before being ousted by court ruling - vs Leslie Campbell

Imani Duncan Price - East Rural St Andrew - vs Alexander Williams

Patricia Duncan Sutherland - South East Clarendon vs Ruddy Spencer

Ashley-Ann Foster - Central St James - vs Heroy Clarke

Sharon Ffolkes-Abrahams - West Central St James incumbent since 2011

Norma Lindsay - Central Clarendon vs Mike Henry