KINGSTON, Jamaica – The Electoral Commission of Jamaica (ECJ) is one of several Caribbean Commonwealth states that participated in the Commonwealth Women’s Political Participation and Leadership in the Commonwealth Caribbean workshop. The meeting took place on Friday, July 7 at the Hilton Hotel in Barbados.
Honourable Dorothy Pine-McLarty was invited to make a presentation on Gender Inclusiveness: The Role and Reach of Election Management Bodies in the Commonwealth Caribbean. Mrs. Pine-McLarty, who joined the meeting by Skype from the ECJ offices on Red Hills Road, was in the virtual company of esteemed speakers such as the Right Honourable Dr Denzil Douglas, Former Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis and Her Honour Senator Kerry-Ann Ifill, President of the Senate, Barbados House of Assembly.
The workshop was designed to, among other things, chart a possible way forward for mobilizing political will and building the capacity of political parties, election management bodies and other relevant stakeholders to enhance women’s political participation and leadership.
Mrs. Pine-McLarty in her presentation emphasized the importance of equal opportunity for women to become actively involved in political leadership and governance.
“It should not be that in relation to tertiary education, women are excelling everywhere across the region, yet the door remains half open when it comes to politics. It should not be that in relation to leadership in business, women are excelling across the region, yet the door remains half open when it comes to politics,” she said.
She also spoke about the role campaign financing is expected to play in levelling the playing field financially for women who wish to run for political office and urged Commonwealth Caribbean member-states to make campaign financing a priority.
“Far reaching recommendations by the ECJ in Jamaica to streamline campaign financing should, we believe, begin to remove the hurdles women face in relation to access to financial resources to run for political office…We have been working on this for over eleven years. Therefore, countries should embark on the necessary deliberations without delay,” she said.
In relation to the implementation of gender quotas in the Caribbean, the ECJ Chairman cautioned that qualification and eligibility should be placed ahead of gender in order not to sacrifice quality of representation for gender, whether male or female. She reminded the meeting that Election Management Bodies must not lose sight of their responsibility as guardians of the democratic process, even in promoting gender parity for women.
The ECJ’s Llofraun Thompson, Registrar of Political Parties and Daynia Harper, Public Education Officer also joined in the conference.