Sunday, September 25, 2011

The female voice of authority in Guyana

 (Originally published in Guyana’s Stabroek News on 17 September 2011)  

As more women venture into areas previously occupied solely by men, there is bound to be a clash of cultures, of sorts. The leadership style employed by many women is vastly different from that which has been used by men for millennia. The dress style will, of course, differ greatly. Even the way in which women in leadership speak will be in sharp contrast to their male counterparts.

However, one should not misconstrue the distinction in the way women voice their authority as being weak. In fact, it is quite the contrary. The new Executive Editor at the New York Times, Jill Abramson, wrote an article entitled, ‘On the Challenge of Creating a Female Voice of Authority,’ which was published on in 2006 and re-published on recently.

Abramson said, “I know that acquiring authority as a woman is tough enough; using and projecting it is even more complicated. There are plenty of pitfalls and few good role models.” This is true in all societies that are currently unwrapping themselves from the longstanding patriarchal culture and embracing women as equals in all segments of society.

This cultural shift is happening in Guyana, too, and it is evident that some – both male and female – find the change chafing. I recognize that there are times when the female voice of authority may sound defensive, but it must also be acknowledged that there are credible reasons for women to be defensive.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

My choice for the next president of Guyana

(Originally published in Guyana’s Stabroek News on 10 September 2011)  

I have never made a public declaration on political candidates because I attempt to stay as objective as possible in my role as a columnist. However, in this case, the numbers speak for themselves. Also, I am an advocate for women and, as such, it is my obligation to speak up at times like this when a female voice is necessary.

In the last 12 weeks of this column, I presented one question per week that was posed to Guyana’s major presidential candidates on women’s issues and their answers. At the end of each column, I rated the candidates’ answers with the anticipation that the candidate with the highest score would be the one who most deserved the female vote.

I rated the candidates on a scale of 1-3 with the highest rating going to the best answer, in my opinion. There were also times when the candidates rated a zero. Please keep in mind that the highest possible overall rating is 36 points. (If you would like to read the past 12 columns with the questions and answers, they can all be found at

Here is the tally of the ratings: APNU candidate David Granger – 20. 5; AFC candidate Khemraj Ramjattan – 26.5; PPP/C Candidate Donald Ramotar – 18.5. 

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Guyana’s presidential candidates on getting the female vote

(Originally published in Guyana’s Stabroek News on 03 September 2011)  

Question 12 of 12:  What are you actively doing in your campaign to secure the votes of women?

 AFC Candidate Khemraj Ramjattan
(This answer was edited for space)

I am, more or less, doing what every politician does, and that is to try to come across as an honest, decent, man of integrity who is going to keep his promises to them. At this stage in the campaign, there’s nothing else you can do but ask them for their trust in you so that when you get into [office they know] these are the programmes you are going to implement.

I have largely indicated what I am talking about here [during the interview] — reduce domestic violence by the education process, make sure that women are going to be employed, they are going to have better wages, their security is going to be taken care of by a better and professional police force – all of that of which I am talking about for the country, they are going to benefit from.

What is required from a politician is to ensure that the womenfolk will understand you and understand that you are speaking from the heart and that you are not in any way trying to confuse them into just wanting their vote. I think I have managed to do that with the women, especially.

At the legal level, I have managed to win the support of very many of the women lawyers. Wherever I speak, I talk more to the women. At the bottom house meetings, women come out to see me more than the men. And it’s amazing.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

How would your candidate help a colleague who is being abused?

(Originally published in Guyana’s Stabroek News on 27 August 2011)   

Question 11 of 12:  
If a colleague or a spouse of a colleague came to you because she was being abused, how would you handle the situation? Would you handle it in the same way it has been handled in the past – with silence and try to cover it up?

PPP/C Candidate Donald Ramotar

(Laughing) You don’t really expect me to answer that. (More laughing)

First of all, I would not expect a colleague of the PPP to behave in such a manner because that goes totally against the whole grain of everything that we believe in. So, first of all, I would not expect it. Secondly, if something like that really occurs and it is brought to my attention, I will let it take its course…let the law take its course.

I do not think I would like to intervene in a situation like that, to defend even a colleague caught in that situation. The most I would probably do to help is if there needs to be psychological help or to get medical attention. Sure I would help in that regard.

I don’t expect it; let me put it that way. But if it does occur, then I would allow it to take its course. It’s not my business. That would be for the law enforcement people.