To preface, I will repeat that I think it doesn’t make sense for the homosexual agenda to include its story in the discussion about racism, and now let me say I think it also doesn’t make sense for people who are trying to advance women’s agenda to try and parallel gender with the black story. Women have been suppressed in some ways since Creation, and homosexuals have had a very hard time, but race is a different story, so let’s keep them separate.
Allow me a few more sentences to make my position more clear. It is argued that through the years women haven’t had the same amount of opportunities that men have had. No one can argue that point. It can also be argued that the trouble for black people just started 500 years ago, when the white race discovered that Chinese gunpowder could be used for war purposes.
I will argue that white women and their children have profited greatly from the 400 years of stolen labor, and let’s not debate whether it was black men or black women who have suffered more because of the 400 years.
So, let me get on with what I am about today. I don’t think that Affirmative Action (which involves quotas — one of the few things American governments have done to right the wrongs they have done to black people over there) applies to women seeking political careers in Belize.
When the UDP won the 1993 election, I said to my friend, Mrs. Virginia Neal, the consummate UDP in our village, that it was time for her to take over the top role in the village. Mrs. Neal, now deceased, was a retired school teacher, and her activities in the village included being leader of the women’s group, manager of one of the village’s softball clubs, church leader, and vice-chairman of the village council.
At the time the chairman of the village was Mr. Nicholas “Nick” Maldonado. Nick, the consummate PUP in the village, had the character and charisma and toughness for leadership, and nobody was complaining about his performance. There were two reasons that I suggested to Miss Virginia that she should change places with Nick.
One, I thought we would get more done with a Red at the helm when the Reds were in power. The second reason is that I like the idea of a woman at the helm, if she has the capacity. Before I go on, let me make it clear that me noh pander. You might find pieces of stories in my life where it might appear that I was pandering, or near there, but you won’t find any complete story that would damn me that way.
It’s possible that my not thinking twice about women in leadership is because I grew up in a family with many women who filled leadership roles outside of home management, women who had to handle other responsible positions. I said I will support a woman if I believe she is up to the task.
My gut feeling was that Nick would have welcomed his village sister running the show, at least until the PUPs kicked the UDPs out into the cold again, but Mrs. Neal didn’t want it. She said she could never take the job because she had too many other responsibilities. Apart from her community services, she had a number of children, most of them at that time minors.
She had her priorities, and political ambition wasn’t one of them. By the way, all of Miss Virginia’s children do Belize proud.
Hmm, it took me a while to get to this talk about legislating for more positions for women in politics, which I’m against. The argument is that it’s an old boys club that works to keep the places filled by men, so the only cure is to give a quota to women. Why? Why? It’s only in Arabia that women are being targeted to hold them back. All over, women who wanted it, and deserved it, got it.
Indira Ghandi wanted it, and she became the leader of India in 1966; Golda Meir became the leader of Israel in 1969, and Margaret Thatcher became the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in 1979. Okay, they are only a few women, but the point which we cannot lose is that if you can climb as high as that, the very top, your gender easily qualifies you to fill the less lofty positions.
One truth for us is that our women who attained political leadership haven’t blazed a trail. No woman in politics has ever stood up to their party. Sure, they performed, but when people are looking for change, they look for game changers, and where is she? She is just playing the party line.
Of course women would do well with a quota system, but they don’t need it. To my mind what women need is reform of the electoral system. The reason that capable women aren’t stepping up is the same reason that capable men are being held back. It is the dratid first-past-the-post (FPTP) two-party system.
Let me backtrack a little. Why are these third parties contemplating running again? Sure, they have a good message, and sure they have some talent, but how many times do you have to see the dice roll red or blue to know that the game is rigged against you?
Ms. Lisa Shoman once said that the UDP only wants compliant women, and to that I would say yes, and add that compliant men will follow their party leader as though he is George Price. Ms. Audrey Matura, one of our bright talents, is not compliant, so she is very unlikely to run for the UDP, the party for which she held such prominent positions as newspaper editor, and senator, and having been so deep in the belly of the UDP beast, she might not want to cross over to the devil PUP, where no doubt she’d be welcomed because they spread a big tent.
I bet if we had the Alternative Vote (AV) system, Audrey would be in the race. I bet she wouldn’t want to expend all that energy and resources in a FPTP race where at best she’d be there for show. I bet if she entered the race she’d be in it to win it, and the only system that would allow her that is the AV (Alternative Vote).
I don’t know why the third parties have never addressed the AV. I understand why people lobbied for proportional representation, but it will take a bloody revolution to get that. Mr. David Cruz, Sr., introduced me to the AV, and after studying it I saw it as the best hope for Belize, and so I picked up the ball and passed it on, hoping that people who aspire for leadership would pick it up and run. I am not looking for any credit for AV, because I did not devise the system.
I passed the ball. I contribute to the discourse, in my column, that’s what I do. There’s no joy for me in being on the talk circuit and having my face splashed all over the place. If there was, I’d be contesting the Cayo South election. Hmm, before I get way off course, I say that all non-PUDP aspirants should fight for AV; put in AV and see our talented women get involved on the front lines, on the ballot. A quota system is just to perpetuate a FPTP system that locks out everyone who isn’t PUP or UDP.