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Women in Politics in St. Vincent and the Grenadines

Women acquired the right to vote and to become members of parliament since universal suffrage was attained for St. Vincent and the Grenadines in 1951.  The low visibility of women continues to be characteristic of Vincentian political life.  Whereas women are always at the forefront vocally supporting their parties, the parliamentary representation remains minimal.  Ivy Joshua blazed a trail as the first woman to win a parliamentary seat and went on to hold it in five consecutive elections.  Yet despite this phenomenal achievement, she remains a name that is hardly ever mentioned or given the respect it deserves.  The trailblazing Ivy Joshua was to many a social outcast, with little or no formal education and a figure of ridicule.  Women such as Yvonne Francis Gibson, Rene Baptiste, and current Deputy Prime Minister Girlyn Miguel followed in Ivy Joshua footsteps.

Ivy Inez JOSHUA

Ivy Inez Joshua was born in Grenada on 25 December 1924.  She was first elected to the Legislative Council on 12 September 1957 after winning the North Windward Constituency by a margin of 2,286 votes to 458.  At the age of 32, became the first woman member of the Legislative Council in St. Vincent & The Grenadines.  Mrs. Joshua retained he seat in five successive elections (1961, 1966, 1967, 1972, and 1974) for the People’s Political Party (PPP) led by her husband, Chief Minister E.T. Joshua.  She later lost her seat in 1979 to P.R. Ballantyne of the St. Vincent Labour Party (SVLP).  During her illustrious career, Mrs. Joshua held a cabinet post and was later Leader of the Opposition.

Valcina ASH

Valcina Ash is a stalwart of the Woman’s Movement in St Vincent and the Grenadines and a standard-bearer of her generation.  She was the second woman, the first Vincentian-born woman, and the only woman from the St Vincent Labour Party (SVLP) to become an elected Member of Parliament.  Born in Layou, Ash was a schoolteacher there until she married and moved to Barrouallie.  There she managed the family business, a retail shop which in still in operation today.  When she became Vice President of the National Council of Women (NCW), Ash began to attract the attention of the leadership of the SVLP.  When the country became independent from Great Britain in 1979, Valcina was appointed SVLP senator in the first post-independence parliament under Prime Minister Milton Cato.  In 1984, parliamentary representative for Central Leeward A T Woods died while in office.  Valcina successfully contested that seat for the SVLP in the bye-election, but lost the seat that same year to Herbert Young in the general elections when the New Democratic Party (NDP) swept to victory.

Yvonne FRANCIS-GIBSON

Yvonne Francis-Gibson was born in St. Vincent on 26 March 1931.  She was an activist and involved with the Trade Union Movement.  After end her teaching career ended in 1985, Francis-Gibson became the first co-ordinator of the Women's Desk.  Elected to the House of Assembly as representative for West St. George on a New Democratic Party (NDP) ticket in 1989, Mrs Francis-Gibson served as Minister of State with the responsibility for Women's Affairs and Education until 1994.  After her second victory at the polls in 1994, she became the first woman to be appointed as Minister of Health, with the Environment being added to her portfolio in 1996.  Her active political life ended in 1998 because of ill health.

Rene BAPTISTE

Rene Baptise is a lawyer by profession.  In March 1986, she launched her private law firm (Baptiste & Co. Law Firm Inc).  In 2000, Baptiste entered active politics and successfully contested the West Kingstown for the Unity Labour Party (ULP) in the 2001 general election.  After the election, she was appointed Minister of Tourism and Culture.  She retained her seat in the 2005 election and served as Minister of Urban Development, Culture, Labour and Electoral Matters. In December 2010, she retired from active politics.

Girlyn MIGUEL

The Hon. Girlyn Miguel was born in Hopewell, Mesopotamia in 1948.  An educator, Mrs. Miguel first entered parliament in 1998 after winning the Marriaqua Constituency on a Unity Labour Party (ULP) ticket.  (At that times the ULP was in opposition.)  She was re-elected in the 2001 General Elections, which was won by the ULP.  On 1 April 2001, she was sworn in as Minister of Social Development, Cooperatives, The Family, Gender, and Ecclesiastical Affairs.  In February 2003, Mrs. Miguel was appointed Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries, a position she held until December 2005 when she was sworn in as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education. Learn more »

Judith JONES-MORGAN

The Hon. Honourable Judith Stephanie Jones-Morgan is the Attorney General of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.  She has been serving in that post since 29 March 2001.  Trinidadian by birth , Mrs. Jones-Morgan was called to the Bar of England and Wales in 1990 and is a member of the Honourable Society of the Middle Temple.  She has also been called to the Bar of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago respectively.  The Honourable Judith Stephanie Jones-Morgan has been working in the Public Service of St. Vincent and the Grenadines since 1992.  Prior to becoming Attorney General, she served as Crown Counsel, Senior Crown Counsel, Solicitor General (Ag.), Registrar of the High Court and Director (Ag.) of Public Prosecutions. Learn more »

OTHER WOMEN LEADERS

Dame Monica DACON, DBE, CMG

Dame Monica Jessie Dacon, née Sheen DBE, CMG was born on 4 June 1934. She has th distinction of being the first woman ever appointed as Deputy Governor General (2001) and as Acting Governor General in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.  She is the widow of the former, well loved and highly respected parliamentarian, The Hon. St. Clair Dacon. She was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in the 2010 Birthday Honours/Overseas and Diplomatic List.  She has the distinction of being the first Vincentian woman to be knighted. Learn more »

Judith JONES-MORGAN

The Hon. Honourable Judith Stephanie Jones-Morgan is the Attorney General of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.  She has been serving in that post since 29 March 2001.  Trinidadian by birth , Mrs. Jones-Morgan was called to the Bar of England and Wales in 1990 and is a member of the Honourable Society of the Middle Temple.  She has also been called to the Bar of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago respectively.  The Honourable Judith Stephanie Jones-Morgan has been working in the Public Service of St. Vincent and the Grenadines since 1992.  Prior to becoming Attorney General, she served as Crown Counsel, Senior Crown Counsel, Solicitor General (Ag.), Registrar of the High Court and Director (Ag.) of Public Prosecutions.

Susan DOUGAN, OBE

H.E. Susan Dougan, OBE was appointed as the Governor-General's Deputy in December 2014. Mrs. Dougan previously served as Chief Education Officer and Cabinet Secretary. Mrs. Dougan was appointed an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the Queen's 2010 Birthday Honour List for her outstanding service to education and public administration. Learn more »

OTHER WOMEN PARLIAMENTARIANS

Parliamentarian

Role and term of office

Mary HUTCHINSON

Senator and Deputy Speaker, 1991 - 1996

Carla DOUGAN-BACCHUS

Senator and Deputy Speaker, 1996 - 2001

Andrea YOUNG

Government Senator and Deputy Speaker, 17 April 2001 - 16 January 2003; Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing 2003-2005.

Juliet GEORGE

Government Senator, 17 April 2001 - 3 November 2005

Rochelle FORDE

Government Senator, 29 December 2005 - 29 January 2010

Anesia BAPTISTE

Opposition Senator, 29 December 2010 - 28 February 2012

Michelle FIFE

Government Senator, 19 January 2010 -9 November 2010

Vynnette FREDERICK

Opposition Senator, 29 December 2010 - present

WOMEN IN 2015 ELECTION

There are six women in the race for the 2015 election.  The ULP has one woman on its slate, the DRP has two women candidates, and SVGP has three women candidates each.  The NDP is the only party without a female candidate.

Deborah
CHARLES
ULP
West Kingstown
Anesia
BAPISTE
DRP
West St. George
Karima
PARRIS
DRP
East Kingstown
Natasha
BLACK
SVGP
West Kingstown
Marsha
CARUTH
SVGP
Central Kingstown
Adella
SAMUEL
SVGP
Marriaqua
Key
DRP= Democratic Republican Party; NDP = New Democratic Party; SVGP = St. Vincent and the Grenadines Green Party; ULP = Unity Labour Party; IND = Independent; * Incumbent; ** Political Leader
Sources
http://www.guide2womenleaders.com/Anguilla.htm
http://theanguillian.com/2013/11/bringing-in-the-sheaves-by-colville-l-petty/
Abstracts from Women in Anguilla Elections: A Retrospective Of The Women Who’ve Sought Political Office In Anguilla by Colville L. Petty, OBE.
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