‘The 51% Coalition – Development and Empowerment through Equity’, a campaign to increase the participation of women in politics and on boards through a 60/40 quota system, was launched on Tuesday, November 22nd. The organizers were interviewed on several radio programmes in Jamaica the day before the launch and on the actual launch day. Listeners wanted to know what it was all about. Why 51%? Did it mean women now wanted more than a half of everything. At the launch the room was full, mostly women but a few vocal men. The men were concerned, as too were some women. Why quotas?
The 2011 general elections in Jamaica saw use of traditional and social media in ways never before experienced in that island. This was the first such elections in that country since the coming of age of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, three of the most popular social networks. In September 2007 when Jamaica voted in this manner, Facebook was just three and a half, YouTube approximately two and a half and Twitter about one and a half years old – all in their infancy. Given Jamaican’s love of music videos, however, YouTube did play a role in the 2007 elections.
It’s important to make the deadline for my book but I’m constantly being distracted. This time it’s by the very subject on which I’m writing, social media. Very early in the morning of Nov. 30, I noticed the back and forth tweets. There was nothing on the radio news though. That’s odd, I thought, that this could have happened and no one knew.
In the recently concluded elections the two major political parties in Jamaica, the People’s National Party (PNP) and the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), fielded a total of 19 women, six by the PNP and 13 by the JLP. At the end of vote-counting five of the PNP’s six have been victorious. This includes the party leader Mrs Portia Simpson Miller. Only three of the JLP’s 13 will take a seat in Parliament. Interestingly these three, all very close to or over 60 years of age, are seasoned politicians. They’ve won their seats before. None of the new ‘young’ women in the JLP made it through.