The Speaker of Saint Lucia’s House Of Assembly, Claudius Francis, has paid tribute to the role of women in politics while noting the strides they have made in holding political office in Saint Lucia.
“Women are already the backbone of every political organisation in Saint Lucia,” Francis asserted this week in an address to a 10-week Women In Politics training initiative.
“Don’t worry that the men appear to be in the forefront. It is the women who are the backbone,” the House Speaker observed.
He noted that more women than men vote.
“That’s a fact. A woman is likely to be more loyal to a political party and her government than would a man,” Francis declared.
He told his audience that any political party believing it can get into office without women’s support is a failed party.
“And we must get away from our misogynistic ways of treating women as less than men,” Francis asserted.
However, he said he was not a fan of quotas but believed in meritocracy.
The Speaker said he did not believe in stepping aside to create a balance.
Nevertheless, Francis recognised that women were already starting from behind.
As a result, he advocated affirmative action for women as being ‘absolutely necessary’.
“If you are starting from behind to catch up, you need the affirmative action,” Francis told his audience.
He observed that most of the audience appeared to be young, declaring they might have no idea how far women had come in local politics.
In this regard, Francis paid tribute to the late Saint Lucian educator and politician Heraldine ‘Ma’ Rock, the first elected woman and female Cabinet Minister in Saint Lucia.
“I don’t think people really appreciate what Heraldine Rock has done for women in politics in Saint Lucia,” the House Speaker said to applause.
He observed that Rock was the target of the worst insults but remained, becoming the foundation for women in elective politics.
‘Ma’ Rock won the Castries South East in 1974 and served as Minister of Housing, Community Development, Local Government, and Social Affairs from 1974 to 1980.
She was also a government Senator.