(Originally published in Guyana’s Kaieteur News on 17 April 2011)
With the selection of Donald Ramotar as the PPP presidential candidate, the election season is now in full swing. As such, I feel it necessary to remind my readers that I never publicly endorse any particular candidate or political party. I take this strong stance because I feel it is difficult to view a columnist’s words as objective if that writer has already stated that she/he is not objective.
I have always felt the same about newspapers, as well. During the elections in the US, I take any political news with a grain of salt if it comes from a newspaper that endorses one particular candidate or political party. One cannot expect to receive unbiased reports from a columnist or newspaper that openly states that it is biased.
However, as usual, I will continue to give my opinion on events, strategies and the overall flow of the campaign season, which is the purpose of this column today. Anyone who reads this column regularly will know that I must speak about the remarks made by PNCR Presidential Candidate, David Granger, concerning the role of women in the upcoming election.
I have to admit that when Granger said he wanted a female prime ministerial candidate when he was first elected (as opposed to selected) by the PNCR as the party’s presidential candidate, I was sceptical that this voiced preference would stand the test of time in Guyana’s political atmosphere.
Yet it seems Granger is sticking to his guns and I am impressed that given the number of would-be male prime ministerial aspirants that he must be fielding, he seems to be adamant on having a female represented in this role. This action in itself is enough to speak volumes about what Guyana’s women could expect from a Granger administration.
However, last weekend Granger went one step further in his bid to secure the female votes in Guyana. In an April 11 Kaieteur News article, entitled, “Granger believes women will determine outcome of election,” the PNCR candidate reportedly said that women must be on equal footing as men.
The article continued, “He said that women make up more than 50 per cent of the population and are the mothers of the nation’s children. He stressed that women hold the nation’s future in their hands. Women should be enabled to play their full and equal role in the development of their families, communities and the nation as a whole.”
I have been waiting for years to see a political candidate enact this level of female inclusion in the political process. I always envisioned that it would be a female politician, but the three women who were/are in the forefront of this election season have not risen to my expectations on this matter.
Gail Teixeira, Faith Harding and Sheila Holder are all strong women with the capacity to call on women to take their rightful place in the political process, yet none have done so to even a small degree in light of what David Granger is doing.
Granger is campaigning on a very smart platform. He knows very well that Guyana’s women are coming out of the shadows and realising their worth to the nation. He can appreciate that they have found their voice – and he is listening to those feminine voices.
The inclusion of women in the political process is something that should have happened long before now. I have my own speculations as to why the PPP has not attempted to garner the female vote, and perhaps one day I will write on those speculations.
However, I will say that the obvious exclusion of females from the PPP campaign is just as telling as the deliberate inclusion of females in the PNCR campaign. Likewise, I do not see the AFC playing to the female half of Guyana’s population either. It is almost as if the PPP and AFC do not recognise the women as viable voters. This is a severe mistake.
When I vote as a woman, I always vote based on the issues that are important to me, but that is after I have sorted through the candidates and eliminated any who do not cater for the female vote. I would never, I repeat, never vote for a candidate who does not include women and women’s issues in her or his campaign.
For a woman to vote for a political party or a candidate who does not address women and women’s issues is like shooting yourself in the foot. The situation for women in Guyana is dire – and it will continue to be so until there is a leader in the country who respects women and refuses to allow the female constituents to be treated as anything less than equals.
The purpose of this column is not to encourage a vote for David Granger, though he has certainly won my respect in regard to his campaign approach toward women. Instead, it is my hope that other political parties will follow Granger’s exceptional lead to comprehend the importance of including women in their campaigns as well.
I will be watching carefully, as will the women in Guyana, to see if the other political parties see fit to cater to the female vote. It is my opinion that if a political party does not include women in its election campaign, that party does not deserve the vote from the women. No women, no vote.