The Hon. Mia Amor Mottley, QC, MP
of the Opposition, Barbados
Mia Amor Mottley (born 1 October 1965) has lived a public life of firsts - first female leader of the Barbados Labour Party and the Opposition; first female Attorney General, a post she held for five years; and youngest ever Queen’s Counsel in Barbados.
Early life and education
Mia Amor Mottley was born on 1 October 1965 in Barbados. Educated at Merrivale Private School (Barbados), the United Nations International School (New York), and Queen's College (Barbados), Mottley subsequently obtained a law degree from the London School of Economics.
By 1986, Mottley was finalizing her training as attorney and received a law degree from the London School of Economics (Houghton Street, London, England). She is a lawyer by profession having been called to the Bar of England and Wales and in Barbados. She was admitted to practice in Barbados in 1987. Mottley is also admitted to practice in St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Dominica.
Mottley has been much influenced by her family. She is the granddaughter of Ernest Deighton Mottley (1907–1973), a real estate broker and successful politician particularly at the parish level. He was the first Mayor of Bridgetown (1959) who had represented Bridgetown in the House of Assembly from 1946 and who belonged to the conservative party and helped the poor. He was granted the 'Ordinary Commanders of the Civil Division' for public services in Barbados in June 1962 and assisted Wynter Algermon Crawford (1910–1993), Barbados' Trade Minister, at the Independent Conference in London during June and July 1966.
Mottley's uncle, also named Ernest Deighton Mottley (1931–2008), a refuse disposal officer who lived in Great Britain for 18 years, he became the political leader of the short lived Christian Social Democratic party (CSD) created in March 1975.Her father Elliott Deighton Mottley (26 Nov 1939-), was also a barrister who sat in the House of Assembly, albeit for a relatively short time before vacating the seat to become consul-general in New York. He was educated at Eagle Hall School, Harrison College (Barbados) and Middle Temple (London) once served as Bermuda's attorney-general and sits on Belize's Court of Appeal. He married Mia's mother Santa Amor Tappin in December 1964 just three years after being called to the Bar and was elected to represent Bridgetown (Barbados) in May 1969. It has been suggested Prime Minister of the time, Errol Barrow, used his parliamentary majority to abolishing local government altogether and therefore undermine Elliott Mottley's strength in the political arena.
Mottley first entered Barbadian politics in 1991 when, running on a Barbados Labour PArty (BLP) ticket, she lost the election race in St. Michael North East between herself and the late Leroy Brathwaite (a defeat of less than 200 votes). Between 1991 and 1994 she was one of two Opposition Senators in the Upper House where she was Shadow Minister of Culture and Community Development. During that time, she also served on numerous Parliamentary Joint Select Committees on areas ranging from Praedial Larceny and Domestic Violence.
In September 1994, Mottley became one of the youngest Barbadians ever to be assigned a ministerial portfolio at age 29, she was appointed to the Ministry of Education, Youth Affairs and Culture. During her tenure she co-authored the White Paper on Education titled “Each Child Matters” that draws the link between better education and job fulfillment.
She was elected General Secretary of the Barbados Labour Party two years later. In that same year and again the following year (1997) she served as Chairman of the CARICOM Standing Committee of Ministers of Education.
Mottley was appointed Attorney General and Minister of Home Affairs in August 2001 and is the first female (in Barbados) to hold this position. She is also the youngest ever Queen’s Council in Barbados. In addition to being a Member of the Privy Council of Barbados, she was Leader of the House and a member of the National Security Council and the Barbados Defence Board.
During her tenure as Attorney General, Ms. Mottley appeared before the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in a Constitutional/Capital Punishment matter, one of the last matters coming from Barbados to be heard before that body. In addition, she was the Agent for Barbados in the International Maritime Arbitration between Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago under the United Nations Law of the Sea Convention.
Mottley is credited with being the visionary behind the Education Sector Enhancement Programme, popularly known as Edutech, which aims to increase the number of young people contributing to the island’s sustainable social and economic development. This revolutionary programme involves the widespread use of information and communication technologies to assist in improving the quality of the teaching/learning process.
In Youth Affairs, Mottley directed the establishment of the Youth Entrepreneurship Scheme and a National Youth Development Programme.
Two years later Mottley was to serve as Barbados’s second female Deputy Prime Minister and Chairman of the Social Council of Barbados and the Deputy Chairman of Barbados’ Economic Council. A position she held until 2008 and allowing her extended responsibilities including the chairmanship of a number of key Cabinet sub-committees, notably Telecommunications Reform and one oversight of the administrative and legislative initiatives to prepare Barbados for the advent of the Caribbean Single Market and Economy.
Under Prime Minister Owen Seymour Arthur’s BLP administration in February 2006, a government reshuffle resulted in Mottley becoming Minister of Economic Affairs and Development, a post she also held until 2008, where her responsibilities put her in charge of key economic agencies in the country.
Following the Barbados Labour Party's defeat in the election held on 15 January 2008 and Prime Minister Owen Arthur's laying down the mantle as party leader, she was chosen as BLP party leader on 19 January 2008. She is the first woman to lead the party, as well as the country's first female Opposition Leader. Mia Mottley was sworn in as Opposition Leader on 7 February 2008. On October 18, 2010, Mottley's appointment as Leader of the Opposition was revoked following a shift in support of five of her Parliamentary Colleagues to former Prime Minister Owen Arthur who assumed the leadership position that same day. Following a second election defeat on 21 Febraury 2013, Mottley was again selected as Leader of the Opposition.
At the community level, Ms. Mottley founded the annual LIME Pelican Semi-Pro Football Challenge in 2011, and is the patron of the Lynden Grove Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to community causes.