Equal opportunity for all regardless of race, creed, color or gender
Published: Oct 03, 2013
"Some men (women) see things as they are and ask why. I dream things that never were and ask why not." – George Bernard Shaw
As I look to the future of our nation, I see an FNM government which is committed to fixing, once and for all, the glaring biases which exist in our nation.
More than half of our great country’s population is female. It is unfortunate that after more than half a century of achieving voting rights, Bahamian women who have given so much to The Bahamas, in many ways, still do not enjoy the full benefits of citizenship and basic human rights. This is patently wrong and must be corrected.
While I and many others in the Commonwealth of The Bahamas beam with pride at the strides and accomplishments of our Bahamian women, we have so much work to do to effect concrete and measurable change that allows all of us to build on the phenomenal work of our brave Bahamian Suffragettes and women’s rights activists. With the support of the Bahamian people, I intend to be the leader who will legislatively and constitutionally remove all gender bias and other forms of discrimination against women for our land.
The need for full constitutional equality is particularly pressing in the area of the need for women to have exactly the same rights to pass on their Bahamian citizenship to their children irrespective of who they may be married to and where those children might happen to be born. This goal is an absolute commitment of the Free National Movement which I, as leader, hope (and will fight) to finally see attained at the earliest possible opportunity.
The FNM deputy leader and my co-partner in this era of change, Loretta Butler-Turner, has been an unwavering advocate for the rights of women, as well as a fierce proponent of equality relating to all sectors of civil society.
In the FNM, women are an important part in the process of nationhood. Long before assuming leadership of this great party, I was taught love, respect and honor for women. These are characteristics that are deeply entrenched in who I am, as a man, a son, a husband, a father, a physician and healer. I have been at the side of thousands of the nation’s women as they experienced the most important rite of passage – motherhood.
Additionally, Bahamian women have and continue to play a significant role in my life and personal development. I, like many other successful men, was raised by a single woman, so I have an idea of the sacrifice and tremendous ways women have served in the development of this nation.
I have dedicated my entire professional life, in my work as an obstetrician and gynecologist, to caring for and improving the health of Bahamian women. I am committed to building a Bahamas where boys and girls, men and women can “march on”, hand in hand, on equal footing, building the equal opportunity Bahamas.
I see a Bahamas where women receive equal pay as men for performing the same job. It cannot still be acceptable that the Bahamian woman of 2013 is paid considerably less for the same job performed by her male counterparts.
As leader of the Free National Movement, I’m proud to stand on our party’s history of diversity. Diversity is more than a buzz word in my view; our history is one where we all recognize and accept that while we are a mosaic of peoples and cultures, we are all Bahamians. For the FNM, our genesis more than four decades ago was a prime example of how effective we can be when Bahamians from diverse backgrounds come together and join in the task to build a strong, sovereign nation. Indeed, it was the FNM which secured the election of the first woman to the House of Assembly, Janet G. Bostwick. Now is the time for all Bahamians to once more combine talents and work with renewed zeal in the building effort: black, white, man, woman, young and old.
I see a Bahamas in the future where there is equality in career advancement. When two individuals are being considered for the same job promotion, particularly in management positions, the female employee is often passed over. This and other forms of job discrimination must end. Despite protestations of employers who fear the loss of the female employees’ services for extended periods – such as the time she may have to be away during maternity leave – an FNM government will enact legislation which rights these anomalies.
A pledge for change
I am pledging the FNMs firm commitment in making more of our women successful entrepreneurs. As a greater percentage of women excel academically and in the workplace, we are compelled to encourage them to fully emerge as business leaders, expanding the economic base of our nation, ultimately serving as role models for future generations. It is this tangible success in all areas of Bahamian life – political and financial – which will signal to other women that if their dream is to own their own businesses, after putting in the hard work, they can achieve that dream.
It is also important that in the FNM we make a firm commitment to the further enhancement of the full and equal participation of women in the front lines of politics and higher echelons of public political life; most particularly, by ensuring that we move ever closer to the goal of equality in the numbers of female candidates, Cabinet and other government appointments.
To realize this lofty goal, it is important for my government to create an environment which is more welcoming of the ardent and distinctive contributions that women can and do make in the political and policy-making processes; to create further targeted opportunities that will make it much easier for women to start businesses. In the new Bahamas, it has to be a simple process for aspiring female business moguls and entrepreneurs to access the required capital to realize the economic dream. In my vision of the new Bahamas, government succeeds when it facilitates access to the necessary technical expertise to assist with proper management and best practices for their organizations.
In this regard, greater efforts must be made to ensure ever greater access of all women, throughout The Bahamas to improved primary healthcare services, ante- and post-natal care and support; and that the Department of Social Services be significantly upgraded, with increased training of better equipped social workers, who are better able to assist, particularly, struggling women and heads of households.
Effective leadership requires a new approach. The leader must be a concensus builder. My recent lunch with Prime Minister Perry Christie is indicative of my quest to move forward with the work of effective governance. All Bahamians want to see their leaders looking for solutions to challenges, dismissing the polarization and politics. The days of endless bickering and opposing one another for the sake of opposing must stop in the new Bahamas.
I invite you to embrace this vision, the FNM’s vision, and I stand ready to lead the charge and effect the change.
• Dr. Hubert Minnis is the leader of the opposition and the leader of the Free National Movement.
|Last Updated on Thursday, 03 October 2013 15:14|