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The NDP appoints two women to House of Assembly

The NDP appoints two women to House of Assembly

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At the first session of the ninth sitting of the House of Parliament, held yesterday, the New Democratic Party (NDP) introduced its two new Senators.{{more}}

Vynnette Frederick and Anesia Baptiste took their oaths on Wednesday, December 29, becoming two of the small handful of women to have served in the Parliament of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Both Frederick and Baptiste expressed how pleased they are with their new appointments and acknowledged the historic significance of such.

“I see the dual appointment as an acknowledgement of and appreciation for the fact that women form the [building] block of our society,” said Frederick.

Baptiste added that this decision not only speaks well for the NDP, but is also a good look for the House of Parliament on a whole.

“This speaks well for the party…the whole issue of gender equality. It’s encouraging to see more women in Parliament.”

Both women, who are former students of the Girls’ High School, spoke of their “honour” at being chosen to serve at this level, and are looking forward to the opportunity to tackle issues regarding youth, gender affairs and education within their new roles.

Frederick, a practising lawyer, lost when she ran against Cecil McKie for the parliamentary seat of West St. George. However, she does not view her defeat as a setback.

“When one offers oneself up for elections, the will of the people must prevail,” explained Frederick. “The people made a choice and I respect their decision.”

Frederick, who serves as the NDP Public Relations Officer, recently found herself caught up in controversy when she accused East Kingstown candidate Luke Browne of election fraud.

Baptiste, too, courted controversy when she held the post of Communications Manager in the Ministry of Tourism. During the 2009 Constitution Referendum campaign, she made remarks that the Government deemed “prejudicial to the proper administration of government business”. She was suspended on half pay and slapped with sixteen charges by the Public Service Commission.

Baptiste has since resigned from the Public Service.

In February this year, Baptiste gained public support from Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace and subsequently joined the NDP. She is also the Associate Director of the local branch of the Thusian Institute for Religious Liberty.

Speaking to SEARCHLIGHT, Baptiste pointed out that every aspect of people’s lives are impacted by their God-given rights and freedoms, so she will be looking at all her senatorial duties through those eyes.

Frederick holds a Bachelor’s degree in Law from the University of the West Indies (UWI), Cave Hill Campus, and is a graduate of the Hugh Wooding Law School.

Baptiste also holds a Bachelor’s degree from UWI in French and Linguistics, and has a double Master’s degree in Hotel and Tourism Management from the Vatel Institute, France.

Both Frederick and Baptiste believe that their gender will in no way hamper their performance as senators and their involvement in politics.

They both acknowledged comments previously made by former NDP Leader Sir James Mitchell on the unsuitability of women of a certain age being involved in politics, but insisted that his words had been taken out of context.

Baptiste said: “Regardless of gender, it has to do with your calling and personal conviction. I believe I have the support of the people… this is the will of God for my experience at this point.”

After the 2005 general elections, the NDP appointed St. Claire Leacock and Daniel Cummings as senators in the House of Parliament. In the recently concluded general elections both men won their parliamentary seats in the constituencies of Central Kingstown and West Kingstown, respectively, and will be sitting in this new parliament as full representatives.

Leacock and Cummings will be joined by Nigel Stephenson and Roland Matthews to bring to four, the number of first time parliamentary representatives on the opposition benches.

The veteran representatives on the opposition side are Leader of the Opposition Arnhim Eustace, Godwin Friday and Terrance Ollivierre.

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