Last weekend I reluctantly got caught up in a centuries-old debate about women and leadership, specifically political leadership. To say my input in the discourse was as generic as my male counterparts’ would be an understatement. How many times has this conversation snuck up over dinner, drinks, at the office, lecture theaters and let’s admit it, even in the bedroom. I agreed to participate in the debate mainly because I recognize our nation could do with a lot less testosterone and a whole lot more estrogen.
Now we need not get into details about the argument my lesser-learned friends offered for pooh-poohing the very idea of a leader who was not male. Words such as emotional, crazy, weak, lonely and yes, nasty, were tossed around. But what most interested me was how such words echo other misperceptions about women. Perhaps this is why our society displays little respect for women and why rape is now so commonplace. But, as they say, that’s for another show!
What is seriously worth discussion is what this country could be if more estrogen landed in the PM’s chair. I remember when I first came to Saint Lucia a few years ago, and the then House opposition party leader was Gail Rigobert. I could not resist a smile as I beheld the bold, bald and breasted MP addressing the House. I remember thinking to myself “this country is heading in a progressive developed state.” Leaving me to wonder what was holding back my own homeland. Anyway, I’ve quickly adjusted to the reality of this country.
So what would Saint Lucia look like if more women were actively leading government? I am fully aware of the ministerial responsibilities of education, health and junior foreign affairs. Not saying those facets of government don’t matter, but let’s be honest, that’s not where the real power is, correct? Political history has proven that female-led administrations make the toughest economic decisions without pause for political appeasement.
Margaret Thatcher would naturally first come to mind with her public sector reform (something none of our governments would even come close to considering for the sake of political survival). Or even closer to home Dame Eugenia Charles of Dominica. And we all know if we were to mention political icons across the region, her name would be listed among Sir Compton, Papa Bird, Maurice Bishop and the likes.
So with protocol already established, would Gail or Sarah make some iron-balls decisions for the local economy? Perhaps there would’ve been an immediate public decision in regards to their party’s idealistic VAT reduction plan. Maybe even the speedy resolution of IMPACS and a public declaration of ORC. I mean, according to the stereotypes, as a woman they would want to check it off their checklist. Correct?
Just imagine if there were a breasted PM having tea with Theresa May? Guy Mayers would’ve had his instruments by now wouldn’t he?
Ahhhhh what a perfect alternate universe Saint Lucia would flourish in, if that were the case. But I prefer reality to fiction. As I told my lesser-learned associates over the weekend, if Lervene could get a driveway named after her and Darren a stadium, we obviously have a long way to go before there are any bras in the PM’s office. Adios until next time . . .