Dear Editor: Time for a Madame President; CAFRA asks for qualified women to be considered

EPL Infrafred Sauna

“[…] Five male Presidents later, the next President of Trinidad and Tobago should be a woman. Such an appointment would be a significant indicator of gender equality and an expression of the democratic value of inclusion.

“We should widen the scope of persons to be considered and Trinidad and Tobago has no dearth of qualified women.”

The following media statement expressing a regional group’s desire to see the Republic elect a female President was submitted to Wired868 by CAFRA T&T (Caribbean Association for Feminist Research and Action):

Photo: Sunity Maharaj is the managing director of the Lloyd Best Institute of the West Indies (LBIWI) and the former Trinidad Express editor-in-chief and TV6 news director.

As Trinidad and Tobago struggles with violence, crime, corruption, inequality and divisiveness, the next president must contribute to the building of togetherness, respect, security and equality for all.

The president should have an ethical vision and a profound understanding of the history of this country, of its contemporary political and socio-cultural dynamics.

The selection of the next president therefore should be informed by public discussion. And the public should be encouraged to think not only of the people to be nominated but the values which are to be advanced.

As head of state, the president personifies the face of Trinidad and Tobago and is a symbol of the values of decency, unity, diversity, respect, thoughtfulness and public spiritedness.

Names of distinguished persons have already been suggested. But five male presidents later, the next president of Trinidad and Tobago should be a woman. Such an appointment would be a significant indicator of gender equality and an expression of the democratic value of inclusion.

Photo: Rhoda Reddock is a professor, social scientist and former deputy principal of The UWI.

We should widen the scope of persons to be considered and Trinidad and Tobago has no dearth of qualified women. There are as many women as men fit and qualified. These can include:

  • Bridget Brereton, author and Professor Emerita of History, The UWI
  • Judith Jones, Justice of Appeal
  • Asha Kambon, researcher and public policy expert
  • Christine Kangaloo, attorney-at-law and President of the Senate
  • Sunity Maharaj, writer and former editor-in-chief of the Trinidad Express
  • Rhonda Maingot, founder, Living Waters Community
  • Dr Eastlyn McKenzie, educator, former Independent Senator
  • Maureen Rajnauth-Lee, judge, Caribbean Court of Justice
  • Rhoda Reddock, professor, social scientist and former deputy principal, The UWI
Photo: Bridget Brereton is an author and Professor Emerita of History, The UWI.
(Copyright Ansa McAL)

And no doubt, we can all add names to this list. So let us do just that.

The appointment of a woman will send a powerful signal to everyone, but particularly the youth, that leadership has a diverse face. Five presidents later, it would appear that the political parties of Trinidad and Tobago are considering only men. It is time for this thinking to end.

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  1. But then and again who cares? The office of the President is only for window dressing. She has no major political decisions to make and her powers are very limited. It’s just a reward for meritorious service until.

  2. What a bullshit reason to elect a president. We have become so blinded by our focus that we have become what we strive against.

  3. Well, I understand that LGBQT People wanting one of their Own to be Nominated next time ! Folks, we reach !

  4. Weekes, JA is a brilliant lecturer. If her judgments in the Court of Appeal mirror her abilities as a lecturer, then she is a brilliant JA. IT would be a great loss to the public if she is made President. I think she makes more of a difference in the lives of people in her current capacity than as the President of TnT.

  5. Well the government just proposed Madam Justice Paula Mae Weekes.

    • The comments under the express article betray a lack of understanding even at the preschool level btw.

    • The Opposition Leader seemed to not be displeased though she has decided she needs some time. I think Madam Weekes is immensely over-qualified (considering the figurehead nature of the job) but nice to know the govt is considering her anyway and it’s about time they put forward a nominee that is not male – perhaps the Rowley detractors will find a way to make this decision into a negative but I applaud him for the selection and hope this woman gets to become the next POTT.

    • Well I was watching the press conference and the comments were really puerile for sure. It hurts my head too much to read comments on new articles. That’s why I stick to wired for a more mature discussion.

  6. Spot on Dwayne Peters. I have a very intelligent, highly qualified wife, three highly professionalized daughters, of which two are married to highly professionalized husbands. I have a highly qualified one, son, married to a highly qualifies wife, and I stress, performance, loyalty, honesty with extreme integrity, utmost trust, and the pursuit of “knowing what’s new, what’s next, and getting there first”. Let these bring you the opportunity, and “may the best man win” – shocks………., I mean, best man or woman, win.

  7. Spot on Dwayne Peters. I have a very intelligent, highly qualified wife, three highlt professionalized daughters, of which two are married to highly professionalized

  8. A female president?….then Trinidad eh go be talking to no other country led by a woman…ent??!!

  9. Two of those three are heavily politically linked. Not good choices.

  10. Sat Maharaj is the best no nonsense man for the job. If not let’s have an executive president like USA and other developed countries

  11. Change the constitution and give us a President with 2 terms.

  12. Though I will love to see a woman as president, choosing someone for any reason other than merit is counter-productive. I work in an environment where balancing and quotaing is the order of the day. People getting hired and promoted based on gender, race religion even geographic origin etc. Their qualifications, experience (merit based values) are a second consideration. Now we are starting to see how this attributing to the downfall and failure of many organizations

  13. But ain’t the leader, of the opposition, aiming to be President soon

  14. Sorry! Male or Female, really don’t care much, enough of this bloody equality…. Once they are seeling the future of the people of T&T, and not for greed!

  15. Did Gladys Gafoor decline the offer. She should be on the list

  16. It’s time TNT , move toward with out a president. Amend d constitution , get rid of d president as d head of state

  17. Yeh leh we put ah indian woman there , at least we would know we have someo ne who is loving ,cearing ,and have a lot of sense when making decisions

  18. What does gender has to do with nominating a President. What we need is someone with character, integrity and love and devotion to country and people

  19. We gave kamla a chance at holding high office and look how that turned out

  20. I am all for giving it to a woman , not because of her being woman but to some one who is strong on views and ideas,we already made a very bad choice of the first female Prime Minister so we need someone Notting like her , and the person doesn’t have to be a Lawyer or judge

  21. Really . Should it not be the best fit for the job exclusive of political patronage man or woman.

  22. We had a woman Pm and watch she did ? Other than peedown sheself and vomit down d car

  23. The list is belated for any other normally functioning system but T&T’s – so those who are condemning the suggestion as a last minute one are obviously wearing blinders when it comes to being realistic about how decisions are made in T&T. I think the article could have been more informative had their been any research into the selections made previously and making some objective points as to why women were excluded if they were excluded from consideration. To those who would conclude that to say it’s time for a woman just because she is a woman, I say, look at affirmative action and all it has been able to achieve for African Americans (though some would disagree) – we have not had one, so why not make a case for having one now – this does not mean that we put a woman who is unqualified – and having put the idea of qualification in the mix I dare say if the President is a toothless tiger then she need not be as well-versed in the law as some people think – she only needs to be able to read. But I suppose that is a bit of a cynical view. Let’s make sure she does not request a housing allowance and then not use it for housing …things like that.

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