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Woman power in local government
Last Thursday, I watched Hazel Brown encourage women in local government to fearlessly and strategically represent the rights and needs of women and girls. Nearly 20 years had passed since I attended almost exactly the same meeting, participating for the first time in Caribbean feminist efforts to make party politics less male dominated and male defined.
Caught in a two-decade time loop, I was humbled at the commitment it takes to advance equality, given that it is an achievement simply to not lose ground, to make incremental inroads, and to embolden mere handfuls of individuals at a time.
In 1995, at 21 years old, I was introduced to the idea of a Women’s Manifesto, called Ten Points for Power. Jacquie Burgess, Gemma Tang Nian, Rhoda Reddock, Thelma Henderson, Elizabeth Nicholas, Merle Hodge, Cathy Shepherd, Jennifer Baptiste-Primus and other women were there, aiming to convince political parties to add these commitments to women and girls to their own election manifestos, and to champion them on their platform.
Here still was Hazel, optimistic, steadfast and subversive. If she wasn’t giving up, how could I? Beyond thinking that change is possible, she was making it possible. Another meeting, another decade, whatever it takes. I saw such determination spark in the women around the room.