The advent of Lisa: Patriarchy and presidency

The advent of Lisa: Patriarchy and presidency


Tuesday, November 03, 2020

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As the prevailing voices in the public spotlight are predominantly men, stepping into the spotlight with the truth of who you are as a woman is political change. – Tabby Biddle, celebrated women's leadership coach

I write as the former legal advisor to the People's National Party's (PNP) Women's Movement, the lead draftsman for the party's ratified sexual harassment policy, former vice-chairman of Region Six, and as a former candidate.

This is the second time in our history that a woman is a contender for leadership of a political party. This means that it is the second time that we will see a concerted effort by the old boys to maintain and cement the system of political patriarchy. This system ensures that women do the heavy lifting as party workers to secure male victory with an unspoken mandate to catapult men to the highest leadership positions while diminishing their own ambitions for leadership.

Given the plethora of endorsements, including those from the privileged sons of Jamaica, it is evident that, while some are happy to invest their resources in internal fights for party power, they decline to invest in the party's quest for State power. This is less an indictment on that demographic than it is upon the party, as one of the reasons the now unattractive PNP has been unable to achieve State power is that self-interest and self-gain have overshadowed the collective purpose of the movement. Now, then, is the time for the empowering truth to serve as the potent counter to the patriarchal status quo.

Time to rally

We note, unapologetically, that the fake feminists and “sisters in arms” are so seemingly overwhelmed with Lisa Hanna's beauty that they have failed to acknowledge her intellectual depth, diligence, experience, and her capacity to lead. Their view of beauty seems to be skin deep and seemingly has nothing to do with anything beyond the looking glass, which would include the substance of one's soul, positive intentions and life's purposeful calling.

These are the same patriarchal women who cheer for Jacinda Arden, Kamala Harris, and Angela Merkel, but failed to clap enthusiastically for Portia Simpson Miller. Although the preference of “foreign tings” is par for the course, it would be remiss if we did not appeal to the contrary.

Women, it is now time that we get over ourselves and coalesce whenever a competent, experienced, and capable woman who clearly and objectively surpasses her political opponent is vying for a leadership position. Today for her, tomorrow for you.

At this crucial juncture, it is incumbent upon us to formally unmute ourselves and fearlessly register our own views in the spirit of the Jamaican women's movement of the 1970s-1980s, which is entirely in keeping with the spirit of the global women's movement that persists today. We must not lose our voices, but step into the spotlight with the truth and the utmost respect. It is now time for us to rally, set aside our insecurities, and apply an objective lens to matters of leadership and female empowerment.

Why Lisa?

I will speak only to Lisa Hanna, who is my candidate of choice and not “just because she's a woman”, but because she is the better candidate for president of the PNP. She has earned it, and her political work well surpasses that of her opponent.

This is especially so with regard to the 2020 General Election. Not only was there sterling performance in the national debate, but also she extended herself and her resources by walking and working in over 13 constituencies. This unsung effort is over and above that of any other candidate for Member of Parliament, save and except party leader Dr Peter Phillips.

In theory and practice, rebuilding the PNP's foundation requires vital reconnection with the grass roots as envisaged by Norman Washington Manley. The people's party has always been one for the inclusion and participation of the disempowered, and fulfilling this mandate demands a visionary leader who will:

• excite, inspire and incite the disempowered to empowerment;

• exercise agility of mind of both emotional intelligence and intellect;

• communicate passionately and clearly with all Jamaicans both at home and in the Diaspora;

• walk from house to house to listen to, meet, and consult with the Jamaican people from behind the zinc fences, from hill to gully, from street to lane, from Kingston 6 to Montego Freeport, from Negril to Morant Point, from “Back To” to Canterbury, with energy, agility, physical dexterity and ardent determination;

• advocate fervently on behalf of the Jamaican people and insist upon the implementation of equitable and opportunity driving and relatable policies for the most vulnerable in society;

• engender a spirit of unity and reignite the collective purpose of the movement;

• ensure that all Jamaicans, not just members of the PNP, feel that they are indeed a part of the building and decision making of both the party and the country — not only spectators but real participants;

• reignite the Opposition with a winning spirit and realistic prospect of success, as a viable Government-in-waiting;

• listen to constructive feedback, self-reflect, and grow while at the helm with the understanding that such exercises are critical for leadership development and the success of the collective movement; and

• raise funding for the reorganisation of the party upon its merit as a thriving movement open to all Jamaicans who wish to participate as opposed to it being a private members' club for the old boys.

There is no such thing as the perfect leader. Still, Lisa Hanna is the leader that the PNP and the position of leader of the Opposition require at this time to do this job of building, and in so doing the people will grow, the party will grow, and the country will grow.

A new chapter

History attests to the fact that no political man has ever been sincerely asked if he was “ready” to lead. Men have forged their way ahead. On many occasions, they have done so without the requisite knowledge, experience, capacity, and intellectual depth. We could argue that the current state of affairs stems from the overconfidence, carelessness, and ineptitude of numerous political men who have followed the patriarchal playbook to the tee. This has invariably led to the nation's underwhelming economic performance and near non-existent social safety net. Presently, history has shown that countries with increased female leadership and those with women at the helm have outperformed their male counterparts. We must wonder why.

As the external masses call for Hanna, it would be foolish for the PNP to ignore. The nation has signalled that, as it stands, the party is unelectable and thus must outperform itself for Jamaica to be equipped with a viable Opposition. It is once again time for a woman. It is time for the advent of Lisa Hanna.

Ashley-Ann Foster is an attorney at law. Send comments to the Jamaica Observer or

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