Categorized | National News

Sixteen Complete First ‘Leadership for Women in Politics’ Course

Sixteen women from divergent age groups, backgrounds and political views, became the first certificate recipients of the inaugural Leadership for Women in Politics course hosted by The College of The Bahamas in conjunction with the Ministry of Social Services and Community Development through the Bureau of Women’s Affairs.

Hosted by the Centre for Continuing Education and Extension Services (CEES) Division of The College of The Bahamas, the six-week course was developed to “enlighten, educate and inspire more Bahamian women to rise to leadership roles in the political arena.”

Minister of Social Services and Community Development Melanie Griffin lauded the 16 graduates of the course (20 women began the course) for their “diligence and perseverance.”

Mrs. Griffin said the course was so successful that a “second cohort of this course” has been planned and will commence at the end of September 2015 in order to provide an opportunity for even more persons “to take advantage of this training.”

“While this training will not guarantee the participants success at the polls or the attainment of a Cabinet post, it will most certainly provide you with information to make informed decisions should they decide to take the journey into frontline politics – a journey that can be extremely rewarding yet fraught with challenges,” Minister Griffin said.

“It is our hope that, at best, the information gained from this training will prepare those participants with political aspirations for the particular and unique challenges that women who are in frontline politics face, especially as it relates to juggling the many demands – particularly those involving their families.

“I am more than pleased that you found the information received to be invaluable and the interaction with your sisters meaningful. You have set a high standard for those who will follow you.”

Mrs. Griffin said females in frontline politics require broad shoulders, inner strength and wisdom to withstand the “vicissitudes and fiery darts that will come their way, oftentimes just because they are women.”

“Make no mistake they will come. This training will also help in that area,” Mrs. Griffin added.

Mrs. Griffin said she was “excited” to see that representation in the course came from political parties “across the divide with a wonderful mix of the young and the not so young.”

“It is significant to note that in spite of your varying views, you worked well together to achieve a common goal and your discussions, though lively, were always cordial and respectful. I can only pray that if and when you meet on the battlefield, it would be the same.”

Developed by officials from the Centre for Education and Extension Services and the Women’s Bureau, the course was designed to cover every aspect of frontline politics.

A cross-section of experts served as lecturers and topics included areas such as Issues Affecting Women in Politics; Protocol and Etiquette, Transformational Leadership; Parliamentary Procedures; Leadership Dynamics; The Women’s Suffrage Movement in The Bahamas; an Overview of Specific Laws Relating to Women in The Bahamas; Public Speaking: Communications and the Media; Balancing Family and Public Life; and Strategic Campaign Management, are among the many areas that will be addressed during the six-week course.

Mrs. Griffin said the course is a partial fulfillment of a commitment made in a report to the Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) to take action to increase the number of women in politics. The course was also in response to the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (signed onto in 1995) that, among other provisions, set a 30 per cent target for women in decision-making to be achieved.

Statistics show that while countries made substantial progress towards the 30 per cent goal with the global average of women in national parliaments doubling from 11.3 per cent in 1995 to 22.1 per cent, that growth rose to just 0.3 per cent in 2014.

She said according to mapping completed by the inter-Parliamentary Union and UN/Women on Women in Politics 2015, The Bahamas ranked 43rd for women in ministerial positions (20-24.9 percent) and 98 for women in parliament (both Upper and Lower Chambers).

“I believe in a country where women are more than half the population and where more than 18,000 more women made up the electorate in the last elections. We can do better and must do better than this,” Mrs. Griffin said.

“My sisters, if we are to encourage more women to offer for parliament, we must learn to support each other and to work together to make it happen (as) it will not just happen.”

Written by Jones Bahamas

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