The calls for the inclusion of more women in the political arena have intensified in recent weeks, as the nation draws closer and closer to the date of its 18th general parliamentary election. Some organisations have even called for a quota system to help level the playing field. However, not everyone is a fan of this push.
Female candidates make up 20 per cent of the People’s National Party’s (PNP) roster of candidates for Election Day 2016. Below is a brief introduction to the 13 women, some of whom are already well known:
- Norma Lue Lindsay-Outar – Clarendon Central: First-time candidate Lindsay is a public relations practitioner by profession, with a degree from Caribbean Institute of Media and Communication (CARIMAC), University of the West Indies, Mona. She is an active member in the community, she is the SDC in May Pen’s Community Development Committee’s Chairman, she was the Secretary and Treasurer for the Clarendon Junior Football Association, The Lay Magistrates Association of Jamaica, Clarendon’s Chapter Secretary and she is also the Clarendon Central Constituency Secretary.
- Patricia Duncan-Sutherland – Clarendon South East: Duncan-Sutherland, daughter of outgoing Hanover Eastern MP DK Duncan, is also a first-time candidate. She is a top private sector executive, speaks fluent French and holds a BSc in Pure and Applied Chemistry from the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona. She also sits on the board of e-Gov Jamaica Limited (formerly Fiscal Services Limited) and was a member of the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) board for more than six years. She currently chairs the Adoption Board of Jamaica and serves as manager for the Ministry of National Security’s Unite for Change Programme.
- Imani Duncan-Price – St Andrew East Rural: The second of DK Duncan’s daughters running for office is currently a Senator in the House of Representatives. Another first-timer, she has been an Executive Member of the PNP since October 2013 and is Co-Chair of the PNP’s Gender Commission. A former Miss Jamaica World (1995), she used the platform to focus on sustainable environmental practices and violence reduction in schools. She holds a BA (Hons) in Economics, Philosophy, Government and History, with a minor in Environmental Policy, from Wesleyan University, and a Master’s in International Development from Harvard University.
- Jacqueline Taylor-O’Gilvie – St Andrew North Central: Taylor-O’Gilvie is an educator and entrepreneur, owner and director of both the Global Centre for Excellence and Undergrad College. She will be looking to unseat veteran MP Karl Samuda.
- Lisa-Ann Edwards – St Andrew North East: Another first time candidate, Edwards is a policy analyst, strategic planning and business development consultant.
- Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller – St Andrew South West: Simpson Miller is Jamaica’s seventh Prime Minister and is the first woman to hold the office. She first won the St Andrew South West seat in 1976, trouncing the Jamaica Labour Party’s Joseph McPherson. She has lost the seat only once, in the 1983 general election that the People’s National Party boycotted. Simpson Miller made her first mark within the PNP in 1974, when she won the tough inner-city constituency of Trench Town West as a Councilor in the Kingston & St Andrew Corporation (KSAC) for the party. It was the first time the PNP had won that seat. She served for 17 years as a Cabinet Minister with portfolio responsibility for Labour and Social Security, Tourism, Local Government, Community Development and Sport, at different times.
- Lisa Hanna – St Ann South East: Hanna will be looking to secure her third term as MP. She was appointed a Goodwill Ambassador by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) while a student at The Queen’s School, one of the youngest ever appointed. She began her career in the field of media and communication as a teen. She was a presenter for Rappin, a popular 90s youth programme on Jamaica Broadcasting Commission (JBC, now Television Jamaica). She later read for Bachelors and Masters degrees in Communications at the Caribbean Institute of Media and Communication (CARIMAC) at the University of the West Indies, Mona. In 1993, Hanna won the Miss Jamaica World title and went on to claim the coveted Miss World crown.
- Joyce Denise Daley – St Catherine East: Daley will be looking to hold on to her seat come February 25. She is an educator; she owns and operates the St Dominic Preparatory and Business College. She is also a Justice of the Peace, a paralegal and a member of the Lay Magistrates Association. Daley has served as the Councillor for the Linstead Division for more than 25 years. She is a former deputy Mayor of Spanish Town, holding the officer for 11 years. She was also the Vice President of the Association of Local Government Authorities (ALGA) and Assistant Secretary of the Caribbean Association of Local Government Authorities (CALGA) for more than 12 years.
- Natalie Neita-Headley – St Catherine North Central: Neita-Headley holds the portfolio responsibility for sports in the Office of the Prime Minister. Between 1998 and 2007, Minister Neita Headley represented Ginger Ridge, and later Lauriston as Parish Councillor. She holds two degrees from the State University of New York; a Bachelor of Arts with a minor in Economics and a Master of Arts in Labour Relations Management. She was elected MP in 2007 for St Catherine East Central, and when the boundaries were redrawn, she was re-elected in 2011 as the representative of the new constituency of St Catherine North Central.
- Phylis Mitchell – St Catherine North East: First-timer Mitchell has had a distinguished political career; she is currently serving in the capacity of Advisor to the Honourable Derrick Kellier, Minister of Labour and Social Security and Minister of Agriculture. She was the former Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Housing, former Minister of State in the Ministry of Education and former Member of Parliament for North East St. Catherine. Mitchell is a graduate of St Joseph’s Teachers College, the University of Reading, and New Castle University in the United Kingdom and the UWI. She holds a BSc in Sociology and an MSc in Sociology from the UWI.
- Ashley-Ann Foster – St James Central: An attorney, writer, business advisor and community activist, Foster is well known via her column in the Western Mirror, ‘Rights Fights and Justice,’ in which she provides information and advice to the community. She is also an active member of the PNP Women’s Movement in the western Region, and is a member of the Calvary Baptist Church.
- Sharon Ffolkes-Abrahams – St James West Central: This accomplished attorney-at-law, lecturer, newspaper columnist and minister of the Gospel is looking to secure her second term. She attended Immaculate Conception High School for girls and is a proud graduate of the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill, where she obtained her first degree in Law, following which she was called to the Jamaican Bar in 1981. Ffolkes-Abrahams qualified for the Bar at Osgoode Hall Law School, York University in Canada and was called to the Ontario Bar in 1985. She is a past president of the Jamaican Diaspora Foundation of Canada, where she represented Jamaica’s interests.
- Marsha Francis – St Thomas West: The Mayor of Morant Bay and Chairman of the St Thomas Parish Council has a family history of political involvement, as her father was elected Councillor for the Cedar Valley Division. She now holds the same position. A former director of the Urban Development Corporation, she is also the Caretaker Candidate of St Thomas Western. She holds diplomas and certificates from Duff’s Business College, Certificates at MIND, HEART School of Cosmetology and City and Guilds Beauty and Aesthetics.