EDITORIAL: Closing gender gap
Thu, 06/09/2016 - 12:45am
On Tuesday, as students across this country celebrated and cried (some tears of joy and others of sorrow) about the grades they achieved in the Barbados Secondary School Entrance Examination, and the secondary schools they have been allocated to, it was important to remind them it does not matter where they go, but what they do with the opportunities that have been afforded them when they get there, that really matters. To use the words of Former Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton – “Every moment wasted looking back, keeps us from moving forward”.
And as they marked that milestone in their lives, many others across the world also marked milestones. Among them was Hilary Clinton, who on the last Super Tuesday of the United States Election Primaries was declared as the presumptive presidential candidate for the Democratic Party, and the first female to become the presidential candidate for a major political party in that country.
It was a moment that not only Americans, but people across the world in general and more especially women, stopped to recognise, because whether you are an American or a Democratic, Republican or an Independent, there can be no denying that this was a major historic moment in not just American history, but world history. Given that, whether she wins or not in November, she has certainly paved the way for many who will come after her with such political aspirations.
Certainly there have been female leaders in other parts of the world - the late Baroness Margaret Thatcher made history in the United Kingdom when she became the first female Prime Minister; and in the Caribbean, Dame Eugenia Charles did the same in Dominica when she assumed that role. Since then this region has seen a few other female Prime Ministers, the likes of Portia Simpson-Miller and Kamla Persad Bissessar, but such leadership is still in many respects a man’s world and females rising to such positions is very difficult.
There are some who believe then that Hilary Clinton’s rise to become the first presumptive female presidential candidate is something that women the world over can celebrate and find solace in. And if she actually goes on to win the General Election in November and become President of the United States, there can be no denying then that she would have taken a proverbial sledgehammer to the glass ceiling separating women from men, hopefully shattering forever what divides the sexes, and allowing women to truly reach their highest potential in this world.
We say that knowing that many countries worldwide take their cues from the United States, and hope that in that respect true equality for women will be the next item on the agenda, as she is likely, if elected, to continue the fight as a feminist for women’s causes. We hope also to see even more women in positions of authority, as one cannot hide the glaring deficit of female leadership as CEOs of large companies in countries the world over and in political positions of authority. These women are limited quite often not because of a lack of intellect, but by virtue of the fact that they are women and too often considered the weaker sex.
Eight years ago the people of the United States elected a Black man to be President, so it is not farfetched to think that a woman can also reach such heights. During the era of the African-American Civil Rights Movement between 1954 and 1968, the thought of Black President occupying the White House would have been absurd to many, but in 2008 it happened; now eight years later the people have yet another opportunity to make an historic choice. But certainly the reality is that whichever candidate is elected, it will be historic as the Republican candidate Donald Trump is a multimillionaire businessman, and not a politician.
Remember that in a country as diverse as the United States, opportunities abound and there are always chances for “firsts” around the corner. That philosophy has stood them in good stead throughout the years ,and is one that countries in the Caribbean, and indeed Barbados, could benefit from.