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VIEW FROM THE CWP


HONOURING PAST WOMEN LEADERS


When I became a candidate for the position of Chairperson of the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians, the main focus of my campaign was proposing strategies for persuading more women to enter Parliament. I suggested that a workshop module embracing the three Ms – Mentoring, Motivating, Mobilizing – be at the core of such a strategy. As to the mentoring part, I freely acknowledge that the


late Dame Mary Eugenia Charles, former Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Dominica, was my mentor and I am sure that just as Dame Eugenia was an influence on my decision to enter politics, there have been other women in politics in countries all over the world who have influenced the women of their country – and even beyond – to consider a career in politics. This led me to search for information on past women Parliamentarians in Dominica and, inevitably, to Dr Lennox Honychurch, a well-known historian in my country. While there is voluminous information on the political career of Dame Eugenia, not much, if anything, is known about other Dominican women Parliamentarians. After several meetings with Lennox, I was able to persuade him to collaborate with me on this project and the book, Women in Parliament in Dominica: Past and Present, is the result of our collaboration. It is my hope, therefore, that the girls and women who read this book permit themselves to explore the possibilities of pursuing a political career. In arriving at the content, we considered several factors, including: ministerial


positions, length of tenure and elected Members as opposed to appointed Senators. It was felt that we would have to include a chapter on women Speakers,


since they are in Parliament and Dominica has had three women Speakers thus far. We also decided we should mention the women who ran but were not successful at the polls. While working on the book, it was pointed out that our Parliament has enjoyed


the benefit of three long-serving women Clerks of Parliament. A chapter was included on them as well. In every such venture, financing is always an issue. We were lucky to have been able to persuade, and are therefore grateful to, the British Foreign


158 | The Parliamentarian | 2012: Issue Three


and Commonwealth Office, through their High Commission in Bridgetown, Barbados, for funding this project as well as contributing to a workshop on strategies for attracting more women into Parliament which we expect to hold before year-end. The consular officers concerned are well worthy of your thanks. I will always be grateful to Lennox, my collaborator, and


to Mrs Vernanda Raymond, Clerk of the House and the very helpful staff of Lericon Printers, especially Ms Watty and Mrs Vidale. Of course, the former and present Parliamentarians co-operated and assisted wholeheartedly in providing information not available in formal records. I trust we have done justice to their service. There have been many other persons who in one


Hon. Alix Boyd Knights, MHA Chairperson of the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians and Speaker of the House of Assembly, Dominica


way or another assisted in this venture, by way of advice or howsoever, and I hereby publicly thank them all for the assistance they provided. The book was launched at the Parliament Building on


Saturday, 26 July, in the presence of the then President of the Commonwealth of Dominica Their Excellencies Dr Nicholas Liverpool, DAC, OCC, and Mrs Liverpool, Members of Parliament, many of the past women Parliamentarians and their families and friends. Their Excellencies were given


autographed copies. It is fair to say that the book has been very well received locally.


Summer holidays and Independence activities have delayed the authors’


planned visits to promote the book in schools around the island; but these visits are expected to take place in the first quarter of 2013. Meanwhile, the book is available for sale from the Clerk at the House of Assembly, Parliament Building, Dominica. Arrangements are also being made for sale via Amazon. Of course I shall be informing women Parliamentarians, through whatever


media I can, on the outcome of the planned workshop and how this book has assisted the discussions. I am hoping too that this book inspires women in Parliaments all over the Commonwealth to document the biographies of past and present women in their Parliaments. Such books could, for example, be taken to schools to begin the mentoring


process that is so important in highlighting the need to have more women in Parliament.


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