Break up the boys club

WHEN you look at Parliament, you’d be forgiven for thinking it looks like a men’s club.

It is 37 years since Janet Bostwick – now Dame Janet – broke up the boys-only arrangement. She was the first female Member of Parliament, elected in 1982 and having been a Senator for five years before that. That’s a whole 12 years before current MP Travis Robinson was born.

Looking at the House now, it somehow doesn’t seem as if we’ve come very far since then.

There are just five women serving as MPs in Parliament today – out of 39. For the FNM, there is Lanisha Rolle, Pakesia Parker-Edgecombe, Miriam Emmanuel and Shonel Ferguson, while on the PLP side sits Glenys Hanna Martin.

So it is welcome news that PLP leader Philip ‘Brave’ Davis has promised that his party’s slate of candidates for the next election will be 30 to 40 percent female.

And before one raises an eyebrow at that upper limit, he clarified to say that the amount could be 100 percent but it depends on those who make themselves available for selection.

This is a good start – though let’s emphasise that word “start”. There remains a long way to go.

As it stands, The Bahamas is 147th out of 193 ountries for female representation at parliamentary level. But not only should we be looking at the number of women either sitting in Parliament or chosen as candidates – we should also be calling for those women who are elected to be appointed to senior roles.

Across in the FNM Cabinet, there is no woman in the senior posts for finance, education, national security, immigration, tourism, public works, health and so on. The solitary woman serving at Cabinet level for the FNM is Lanisha Rolle, who holds the Youth, Sports and Culture post.

Mr Davis also has a slightly easier time making that promise than his counterpart across the House – who has more sitting MPs who might wish to retain their seat for the next election. Nonetheless, his move is to be applauded – and we look forward to the candidates who will be offered a chance to follow in the footsteps of Dame Janet to take up a seat in the House.

If the next election is in 2022, that will mark a full 40 years since Dame Janet broke the mold. Surely we have waited long enough in following her lead.

The marijuana business

A few years ago, you might have thought a bank president would be the last person you would expect to see cheering on the marijuana industry.

But Dr William Warren Smith, of the Caribbean Development Bank, is echoing what many others have been saying – don’t get left behind.

As laws around the world begin to change with regard to marijuana – sometimes decriminalisation, sometimes legalisation – The Bahamas looks increasingly like a stick in the mud.

Dr Smith says it is foolhardy for the region not to get in on the opportunities available – even saying the bank could fund research for the industry.

What has The Bahamas done about it so far? Well, it has formed the Bahamas National Commission on Marijuana – which hasn’t reported anything back yet.

We would also note that as well as the possible income that the industry could bring, there is also the benefit that could come from no longer locking up young men for a few ounces of the drug. A financial saving to the courts, a saving to the prison – and perhaps saving their lives from a path of crime with a record attached for a minor incident.

The time really has come for change – so let’s stop falling behind everyone else and lead.