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WOMEN’S EQUALITY FORUM: Achieving Political Equality by Living It

By Tonni Brodber*

Linda Basch: From your perspective, what is the unfinished work of women’s political equality?

Tonni Brodber: In the English-speaking Caribbean women’s participation in political leadership ranges from a high of 13% in Jamaica to a low of 0% in Belize, with many countries like St. Kitts and Nevis and St Lucia hovering at 6.7% and at 5.6% respectively. In the face of such paltry numbers, it almost pains me to say that it is my belief that the unfuinished work of women’s political equality is the lack of quality and diversity.

Class biases in the political system have often been overlooked in the struggle for political equality. Women from all socio-economic backgrounds need to be exposed to the inner workings of the political system that reigns in their country. Organizations such as Famn Yo La in Haiti and the Caribbean Institute for Women in Leadership are working to encourage and train women from all walks of life to enter and prosper in the political realm.

When the women who take to the streets in droves in election time campaigning for their candidate of choice consider their own viability as candidates that is when the work of political equality will have evolved. At that time I’ll have to spin that MBA and transfer my skills to the next step on the route to equality.

Linda: How do you define political equality?

Tonni: I would define Political Equality in the same way UNIFEM defines Transformational Leadership ….a reality ‘grounded in the principles and values of equity, equality, democracy, justice, caring, non-violence and cooperation’.

Linda: How do you propose we achieve it?

Tonni: We achieve it using a 360 degrees approach. The general public and women across race, age and especially class need to be trained and encouraged to consider local and national political careers. Women and men in positions of leadership need to be supported and encouraged to be transformational, those who can’t live up to the tenants of political equality will eventually be pushed out by a public who demands more of its leaders because it demands more of itself. Finally, we achieve it by living it. Our organizations, trainings and processes should be ‘grounded in the principles and values of equity, equality, democracy, justice, caring, non-violence and cooperation.’

*Tonni Ann Brodber is a consultant with UNIFEM Caribbean. She is a global citizen waging peace and demanding equality from the Boqueria in Barcelona to the beaches of Barbados. Tonni is a graduate of ESADE Business School in Barcelona Spain, the London School of Economics and the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus.

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