Women Parliamentarians “steadfast and immovable” on equality in Bahamas

Pictured during the press conference are from left, State Minister in the Ministry of Transport and Aviation, Hon. Hope Strachan; Minister of Social Services and Community Development, Hon Melanie Griffin and Minister of Transport and Aviation, Hon. Glenys Hanna-Martin.

Nassau, Bahamas – Acknowledging that there are elements who would wish the referendum to fail, the bipartisan women’s parliamentary caucus remain “steadfast and immovable” and “are focused on what the intention of these (constitutional) amendments are and that is to provide equality for men and women under the constitution.” This according to Social Services and Community Development Minister Hon. Melanie Griffin as she and fellow Parliamentarians addressed the media on their strategic plan going forward regarding the constitutional referendum. She was joined by Transport and Aviation Minister Hon. Glenys Hanna-Martin and Transport State Minister, the Hon. Hope Strachan.

Echoing this theme of unity and bipartisanship was Transport and Aviation Minister Hanna-Martin who reiterated that “politics is not separating us (meaning women parliamentarians) on this issue” and women members of both chambers of the House “are ready to go ensure that we achieve this important …objective.”  Hanna Martin also pointed out that the current parliamentarians will be calling on former female Parliamentarians to join their “yes” vote campaign and the group is “heating the coals and getting ready to take an aggressing stance (on the constitutional bills).” She strongly believes that an aggressive “yes” campaign in addition to the public education campaign by the Constitutional Commission will “give this referendum the best chance for success. For us, this issue is one where failure is really not an option.”

Turning their attention to a possible delay to the announced date of November 6 for the referendum vote and responding directly to newspaper reports that PLP women Parliamentarians want a delay in the referendum, State Minister the Hon. Hope Strachan had this to say: “The PLP women do not want a delay. What the PLP women want is to give this referendum the best chance of success.” She continued that the developing circumstance relative to public education on the constitutional bills “dictates that we proceed with caution” because ostensibly “we want to ensure that we have a level of comfort in terms of the degree of knowledge that our people have before they go to the referendum polls.

“So while we do not want a (referendum) delay, we recognize that in the reality of the situation that it may actually require one” said the State Minister.

“If it is at the end of the day” said Minister Griffin, “we have to put off the date, I see (nothing) wrong with that…if there is any indication that the people in this country simply need more time to be educated on this issue, that is a preferable path than to go down the path where we know that our chances of success are hindered.”

The press conference was held in the Majority Room of the House of Assembly on Wednesday, September 9th.