Tuesday, 11 April 2017

REAL TALK: Some jobs in Jamaica will never be filled by women

DYNAMIC DUO: Top cops Grant and Quallo (left), the newly appointed Police Commissioner, enjoying a light moment.

By now we all know that Miss Novelette Grant did not get the job as Police Commissioner, even though she was “acting” in the role for some time, for about the second time in her career. Mr. George Quallo is the new top cop. But a woman in the role of Commissioner at this time would have provided such an interesting change for the image of the constabulary and a new confidence boost for girls and young women across Jamaica. Wishful thinking?

This moment brings back so many memories. You will recall in 2006, for instance, when Margaret Campbell was made Principal of St. George’s College, and the enormous backlash her appointment caused – a ripple effect that was even felt in the Diaspora. A woman had been appointed headmistress of the venerable all-boys institution, which was started by the Jesuit Catholics. Was this the end of the old boys’ club? For the record, Mrs. Campbell is no longer Principal of St. George’s College.

Call it unshakeable tradition or plain-old gender bias, but there is this entrenched belief that certain positions, certain roles, in the society are expressly for men. Competence be damned. Don’t we need men and women to rule equally? Still, let’s face it: in this lifetime, a woman will never be appointed Commissioner of Police, Minister of National Security, JDF Chief of Staff, Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Church or Governor General. For many, these roles demand a certain gravitas that only a strong, commanding leader (a man, that is) can deliver.

What’s more, as Caribbean people, too many of us are threatened by benign change, and our long-held prejudices tend to cloud our better judgment.

But back to the Commissioner job. One can’t help but wonder: why is Novelette Grant good enough, qualified enough, to “act” in the role but not take over officially? She’s not tough enough to tame the crime monster? 

It’s always been a terrific experience to see influential positions like that of JTA President being filled by members of both genders – the Nadine Molloys standing shoulder to shoulder with the Howard Isaacs. At the same time, the female bishops (in several denominations) continue to shepherd large congregations and church districts the length and breadth of Jamaica. Like I said, we need men and women to rule equally. 

Hats off to the sharp and super-strong Paula Llewellyn, who is still fighting the good fight and rolling with the heavyweight punches that come with her job as Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP). 

It might be a while before Jamaicans witness the rise of another Portia Simpson-Miller (and another Hillary Clinton in the United States, for that matter). But rest assured that Nanny’s spirit is very much alive and well, so one should always expect the unexpected. 

That said, I’m starting a petition to have Barbara Gloudon appointed our next GG!

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