by Linda Straker
Gloria Payne–Banfield, President of the Grenada National Organisation of Women (GNOW) is delighted that Grenada’s ranking in terms of percentage of women in the parliament will increase with the appointment of a female senator, but is concerned that more women are not making the decision to be in frontline politics.
“I am sure that this is reflecting positively on us as a nation. Grenada has already crossed the 30% mark as outlined in the Beijing Platform, and now there is a woman joining the Senate, it means that the ranking will reflect positively on us,” said Payne–Banfield, who served as a senator in 2003.
On Tuesday night, Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell announced that former principal of the St Andrew’s Anglican Secondary School (SAASS), Ms Pamela Moses, will be appointed as a Senator and will serve as the Parliamentary Secretary with specific responsibility for Youth and Religious Affairs, in the Ministry of Sports, Youth and Religious Affairs, which will now be headed by Hon. Roland Bhola.
She is replacing Sheldon Scott in the Senate and will be sworn in on Friday, 1 July 2016 at 9 am at the Governor General’s residence at Point Salines, St George’s.
Payne–Banfield said that it’s a powerful decision when a woman decides to get into frontline political work, and wants to see more women making the decision to not just be engaging behind the scene for political organisations, but coming forward and championing issues that can create positive change and at the same time empower other women.
The former Cabinet Secretary and Diplomat said that she is extremely pleased with the increased number of women in the Houses of Parliament, but only one represents the opposition voice, and would like to see a woman representing the independent voice of either the business, labour or farming sectors.
“All the women are representing a political organisation, and though that is good, I will also like to see women representing the other sectors in the Senate,” she said.
The goal of having no less than 30% women in decision-making was laid out in 1995, by delegates to the United Nations (UN) Fourth World Conference on Women who unanimously signed the Beijing Platform for Action.
Described as a “new agenda for women’s empowerment,” its mission statement called for the removal of all “obstacles to women’s active participation in all spheres of public and private life”. The Platform set a 30% target for women in decision-making, to be achieved through a wide range of strategies, including positive action, public debate, and training and mentoring for women as leaders. Over the last 20 years, countries around the world have made substantial progress towards this 30% goal.
Following the 2013 general elections, Grenada reached the 33.3% in the House of Representatives because 5 women were elected by the people while the Senate’s average was 15.4% because only two were appointed.
“The appointment of Ms Moses will push up higher and now the goal for us as a nation and political parties in particular is to maintain this,” Payne–Banfield said.