Copyright © 2000 International Development Options
All Rights Reserved
Volume Two Winter 1999-Spring 2000 Numbers 1-2.
THEME: CARIBBEAN DEVELOPMENT STRATEGIES: ISSUES AND OPTIONS
PROSPECTS FOR GENDER EQUITY IN CARIBBEAN POLITICS: THE CASE OF JAMAICA
Carlene J. Edie
Department of Political Science
University of Massachusetts at Amherst
Amherst, MA 01003
Published Online: December 15, 2016
Despite high levels of participation at the constituency level, Caribbean women have been under-represented in the top echelons of the hierarchy of political parties in the region. A host of cultural, social, political, and economic factors combine to exclude women from the highest levels of power within the political arena. This case study of Party Leader selection in Jamaica in 1992 shows that: (a) an unwritten cultural bias exists in the society which makes it impossible for a woman to become Party Leader and Prime Minister; (b) the gender-biased structure of the PNP excluded women from the top echelons of the party hierarchy, making it impossible for them to have the qualifications and experience necessary for party leadership; (c) the structure of the People's National Party (PNP) excludes the party rank-and-file from the process of selecting the Party Leader, giving a male-dominated group of delegates the sole responsibility of choosing the Party Leader. The case study is an example of a regional and global problem of gender inequity in politics. This problem should be seriously addressed if democracy is to become a working concept in Jamaica and the Caribbean in the twenty-first century.