Saturday, May 28

Female leadership is good for the world. Just look at Barbados | Mandeep Rai

TThere is a common misconception that the developing world is full of archaic values ​​and that women are fighting to make their voices heard. The more countries I visit and the more women leaders I talk to, the more convinced I am that the opposite is true.

Indeed, those in positions of power around the world could learn important lessons from these strong women when it comes to tackling some of society’s most pressing issues, including pandemics, the climate crisis, education, and infrastructure.

Of course, successful female leadership in the developing world is not new. During her time as Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi was famous for her strength. In Africa, I met the highly respected former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who was recognized among Time magazine’s 100 best women of the year in 2020 for her role in picking up the pieces of a damaged nation when she was elected in 2006.

I write from South America and the Caribbean, having interviewed many women leaders, most recently from Suriname, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, and Barbados. The level of respect for female political and business leaders here is partly because they have had to dig deeper to prove themselves, which I believe is a key to their success, especially during turbulent times.

Since taking office, Barbados’ Prime Minister Mia Mottley has changed the face of democracy in the country. It has been transparent, it has stood up publicly against injustices and it has created authentic bonds between the Caribbean countries. It is hard to overstate what their commitment to collaboration across the region and internationally has done for Barbados, securing investment and developing infrastructure to enable a stable and sustainable economy during the Covid crisis. Countries like Barbados are often not the stars, but Mottley brings issues like the climate crisis and international development to the forefront of the world stage.

Such is the level of support for Mottley within the region that it is not uncommon for Guyanese President Irfaan Ali to wake up at 5am. and support for her.

I have also been struck by the role that a “first lady” can play in sharing leadership. In Suriname, Mellisa Santokhi-Seenacherry has helped ensure that, through government policy, no one is left behind. A successful lawyer, she has rigorously promoted female leadership, empowerment and mental health.

Guyana’s first lady, Arya Ali, brought the family back to the state house and to work. She is committed to inclusion, establishing schemes across the country that support women and girls, people with disabilities and children, and she is not afraid to look at the challenging issues of domestic violence and rape. This requires courage and heart, and she has them in abundance.

In other spheres, Annette Arjoon of Guyana has been widely recognized for her environmental and community work. Arjoon is responsible for establishing one of the country’s first and most successful conservation NGOs, the Guyana Sea Turtle Conservation Society, leading the way in preserving the natural environment for future generations.

Trinidad and Tobago has this form of leadership in the private sector: the representation of female CEOs is higher here and in Jamaica than in the US Trinidad and Tobago Angela Lee Loy, Business Hall of Fame Award Winner continued to invest in training its employees during Covid and supporting them through the challenges of working from home, giving parents the flexibility to work around homeschooling, for example. “I strongly believe that if your home life needs support, then that should also be our domain and area of ​​concern,” she says. This approach certainly paid off. Your staff has remained committed and loyal.

It’s not easy, and there has never been a linear upward path for women leaders. However, the women featured here are bravely forging a path and setting a shining example to the world. The unprecedented disruption of the last two years has highlighted leadership. These women are finding solutions to pressing global challenges with purpose, passion and people at the forefront, and are improving the lives of their communities by harnessing the very qualities that make women leaders so successful.

  • Mandeep Rai is the author of The Compass of Values: What 101 Countries Teach Us About Purpose, Life, and Leadership

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