JUNE 16, 2011
Honorable Jacqui Quinn Leandro, Minister of Gender Affairs,
Ms. Sheila Roseau, Executive Director of Gender Affairs,
Distinguished stakeholders,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am delighted to promote with you the participation of women in politics for transformational leadership and good governance. This pursuit stands for a noble cause; it is about extending fairness and inclusiveness to all sectors of the population; it is about giving unconditional access to passion for public service, capacity, knowledge and wisdom; it is about reflecting social texture and diversity into politics and decision making. You female political hopefuls have come together today to show Antigua and Barbuda and the region your readiness to contribute more to the transformation of our communities and to help optimize the impact of the Antiguan collective mind for well-being and continuing economic progress.
Let me thank the Honorable Jacqui Quinn Leandro, Minister of Gender Affairs, for her strong support to this endeavor and the OAS sponsored project for women participation in politics. I wish to commend also Executive Director Sheila Roseau and her staff for their passion and their dedication in advancing this important cause.
Today’s national consultation paves the way for a regional high-level meeting in Trinidad and Tobago at the end of this month. Make no mistake; aspirations for equal political opportunities will remain robust until an acceptable
level of women representation is reached.
As we are in the last phase of this OAS sponsored project, we can take comfort of the fact that our efforts have supported the political participation of more women in Antigua and have raised awareness of the need for the society to benefit at the highest level of female natural hunch and social sensitiveness. However, we are not yet satisfied. How would we be satisfied when female access to power and political influence is still very limited, with the proportion of women in legislative bodies in the Americas reaching only 22.6%? In the Caribbean, the
percentage is much more meager. How would we be satisfied when a large number of women do not even want to take a chance, because political structures and culture make it difficult for them to gain wide range support and
mobilize resources for good campaigns?
This morning, I am pleased to report that the OAS, through the Inter-American Commission on Women and projects such as this one, remains committed to helping our region to reach the third Millennium Development Goal for gender equality and women empower by 2015. We should not trail the world in female representation, governance and decision making. Politics should stop being a male pastime, as more women are expected to become political actors. It is interesting to note that most developed countries tend to have a greater
proportion of women involved in public affairs at the highest levels.
I have no doubt that increased women participation can help redefine leadership in our societies. Servant and transformational leadership is the way to strengthen hope in the future and reignite the drive to take up challenges and expand compassion. Every young girl should grow up with the conviction that her gender will not prevent her from realizing her full potential in life, whatever her dream may be.
She should enjoy the following principle embedded in CIM’s Plan of Action: “The right to elect and to be elected to office by participating in the electoral process and in its direct and indirect results is the very essence of the
rights of citizenship and is both the basis for, and the culmination of, all other social rights and duties”.
I believe we should apply in politics Apostle Paul’s statement in the book of Galatians: “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Everyone in Antigua and Barbuda, including women, based on their character, dreams and expertise, should have equal access to all compartment of social, economic, political life.
In closing, I wish to reiterate the OAS’ support to the gender equity and equality cause in the Americas. I know this national consultation will allow you to design strategies and boost your drive to get more females politician elected,
more women serve at decision making levels. I wish you very fruitful deliberations and, in this regard, I am looking forward to the exciting positive results that the Antiguan people and Government are pursuing.
Thank you and God bless you all!

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