Engendering Governance in Jamaica: Agency and Women’s Political Participation and Representation
Thesis DT 3.5 2006 J664
xvi, 239 leaves: ill. ; 28 cm
Jamaican women have been marginalized in Local and National politics, in spite of March 30th, 2006 historic choice of women as Prime Minister. Nevertheless, women represent the majority of the organizers at the grassroots level. The primary focus of this thesis is to provide an analysis of way in which Jamaican society has been gendered. That is to say that roles have been defined according to the “female” and “male” gender. This analysis illustrates how women have faced social and cultural constraints that devalue their contributions, while simultaneously placing men at the core of decision-making. The location of women’s contributions at the periphery has led to the creation of gender-biased institutions and has accounted for women’s under-representation in Local and National politics.
The data collected during the fieldwork include interviews of twenty-four women in Kingston, Jamaica, between June and August 2005, using open-ended questionnaires. The qualitative data was analyzed using the Women and Development Unit of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) theoretical framework that supplied two types of indicators—results and political will. The women interviewed included politicians along with members and leaders of women’s organizations. The interviews revealed a new and refreshing perspective on the issues of concern to women in Jamaican society, uncovered the obstacles women politicians encounter, and offered recommendations to address women’s marginalization in representational politics. Therefore, the “voices” of women are central in this thesis.
The results of the study unequivocally confirm that politics is considered a “male domain.” The majority of respondents argue that “economic instability” is the primary factor that inhibits women’s representation in Local and National politics.
More women are acquiring advanced degrees, yet they remain marginalized in board rooms, trade unions, and broader political leadership. This thesis presents evidence that women were (still are) systematically constrained from domains where they can exercise political power.