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New Bajan PM 'a role model for women'

NEW ERA: Mia Mottley took the Oath of Office before Governor General Dame Sandra Mason at Government House in Bridgetown (photo: Barbados Labour Party)

BARBADOS’ FIRST female prime minister, Mia Mottley, has been hailed as a role model to women and girls in the Caribbean.

Mottley emerged as victor in last week’s elections, which returned the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) to power on the island for the first time in a decade.

Her party inflicted a crushing defeat on the ruling Democratic Labour Party (DLP), winning all the seats in Barbados’ parliament.

Speaking about her victory, Trinidad and Tobago’s former prime minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar said Mottley would provide an inspiration to those wishing to follow in her foot- steps.

She added: “The victory of your party in the recent polls is so remarkable, and has al- ready touched so many lives, and serves as an inspiration to women and girls to witness the shattering of yet another glass ceiling.

“Our region has much to be proud of as you stand as a trailblazer in women’s political participation and indeed leadership.”

Jamaica’s prime minister, Andrew Holness, said Mottley’s victory was proof that more women can ascend to the pinnacle of political leadership.

Mottley joins the late Dame Eugenia Charles of Dominica, Janet Jagan of Guyana, Jamaica’s Portia Simpson Miller, and Kamla Persad-Bissessar of Trinidad and Tobago as women who have led governments in their respective countries in the Caribbean.

Tyrone Roach, UK correspondent of the Barbados Nation agrees that Mottley could inspire the high number of women in Caribbean politics.

He told The Voice: “Women are on the ascendancy so I think her victory will act as an inspiration. Mottley is very experienced and she has served in different posts but never got to the top. She has put the work in and she deserves to be where she is now.”

Roach added that her victory was especially significant given the campaign that the DLP ran.

He said: “They were trying to discredit her as a leader. That led to her getting a lot of support because they attacked her without producing any alternative policies.

“Politics is a vicious bloodsport but if you listen to some of what was being said it really was close to the bone.

“Everyone loves underdogs so that a role to play in the result that we saw.

“She got a lot of support from young people especially on social media and a lot of celebrities and musicians.”

Among the celebrities to back her was international chart-topping singer Rihanna.

The star took to Instagram to congratulate the new prime minister on her role, writing “Say hello to my new prime minister and most importantly the first female prime minister of Barbados... the honourable Prime Minister Mia Mottley.
“Well-deserved and about time! Breaking barriers and making history in so many ways! Congratulations.”

However, the new prime minister faces some tough challenges.

Since 2009, the island’s economy has struggled due to the global financial crisis, which has driven up the national debt and contributed to a drop in tourism, a major source of income for Barbados.

The island has also seen several international credit rating agencies downgrade its economic outlook.

However, in her victory speech the 52-year-old Mottley said the win was a victory for the Barbadian people, who have endured a difficult time due to the country’s economic predicament.

Mottley also told the jubilant crowd that it wasn’t a time for gloating and called on all citizens to join forces and help rebuild the country.

“There should be no time for gloating. We are all one people – we are Barbadians. We will need many hands to help make light work. We will rebuild Barbados together,” Mottley said. “We have to get to the task immediately.”

She added: “I am deeply conscious that with the absence of an official opposition in the House of Assembly we will have to evolve institutional arrangements to be able to allow Barbadians to have a greater say in the governance of this country.

“All ideas must contend before the government takes a decision. There is no way that there will be a mistrust of the absolute mandate that you have given us the people of the BLP. We will be your servants at all times.”

Reacting to the election result and expressing hopes for the future of the country one Bajan voter, Allison Whittaker, a teacher from St Thomas, told The Voice: “I was shocked about the results as I thought the DLP would have got at least five or six seats.

“I’m a bit concerned, not having an opposition. I hope future candidates learn from the downfall of the DLP and listen to the people.”

“The former administration did not pay enough attention to the issues and offered little or no solutions and showed little compassion to Barbadians.”

Another voter, Gary Griffith, a teacher from Speightstown, said: “I look forward to leadership that will encourage more locally owned enterprise and bring about changes to the constitution that will significantly limit or even prohibit the sale of property to foreigners. Mia Mottley is not without controversy but she’s tough, tenacious, articulate and fiery.

“I am confident that my fellow citizens will support her.

“However, we expect leadership that will put Bajans first through transparency and accountability, Furthermore, whoever is in power must know that they are not beyond reproach.”

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