Do we? Can we? Will we ever? Hillary lost. Trump won. Is it a man woman thing that led to Hillary’s loss? Or is it a Hillary Trump thing?
Another day. Another season. Another conversation. I really wanted to visit Joe-Ann Chavry‘s hometown Mauritius for my winter holidays. Unfortunately, I have time constraints which make the logistics of that whole excursion kind of impossible.
In the meantime, there’s always Skype. Joe-Ann and I sit down and talk about women in Mauritian politics. Her cute cat Oishi is listening in. I wonder what he’d say if he could speak. Ah well.
“Who are some of the women you admire most?” I ask. “Why?
“Firstly, Freida Kahlo,” Joe-Ann says without thinking. “Despite every hardship, she maintained some positive world view of life. She was avant-garde for her time: living and growing up in Mexico. She was bold for her time – and is considered bold, even now.
“Also Beyonce – because she’s a strong figure of contemporary feminism. She did songs like ‘Baby Boy’ ten years ago, but I think she was clever in doing so. She made herself popular: in order to now be more provocative and make a bigger impact to the female black community.
“And Michelle Obama. She’s managed to gather people around her for different causes. She is someone smart who is able to put herself forward or to withdraw herself when her husband needs to be put forward.
“She’s also a good human being. That’s what it comes down to.”
“How would you describe the status of women in Mauritius? I ask.
“Women still hold a position which is very traditional,” Joe-Ann says. “A lot of women are quite independent. But in their minds, they still aspire to the conventional route of getting married, having children and growing old together.
“It may be a bit of a generalised statement as there are women who have kids without husbands. Still, it’s not the ideal situation as perceived by themselves or by others. It’s ideal to be in a family unit.
“A small portion of women put their jobs and their careers first, but at some point it ends up becoming 70% family and 30% work. Like a lot of traditional cultures, people always ask, ‘When are you getting married?'”
Oh dear Lord. If I have to hear that question again… Is it that difficult to believe that people can choose to stay unmarried because of reasons that THEY DON’T HAVE TO EXPLAIN TO YOU?
Err.. HELLO? It’s none of your business.
“The current president of Mauritius is Ameenah Gurib-Fakim,” I say. “How did that happen?”
“We elect the Prime Minister and the Prime Minister elects the president,” Joe-Ann says. “If it were up to the people to vote for the president, she probably wouldn’t have made it, even though she’s very capable. She’s someone who is smart and is a great public figure. Ameenah’s also low profile. She’s the right person for the right job.
“I’m not undermining her position, but if the Prime Minister had not decided, people would not have voted for her or it would have been very difficult for her. She’s logical and scientific in her approach and she doesn’t seem to put up with bullshit. She’s a sensible person who expresses herself clearly.
“She’s set an example to girls and women in this country that you can do your own thing and make it up there. I’ve met people who know her and have met her personally. From their feedback, I gather that she would be a good person to talk to.”
“What does it take to succeed in politics in Mauritius as a woman?” I ask.
“Having a penis helps,” Joe-Ann quips.
I laugh and it takes me a while to stop. I like my girly parts, thank you very much.
“But it’s all about networks and connections,” Joe-Ann says, getting serious again. “There are two main parties. You join either of them and grow in the party. Ethnicity is a big part. Being Indian Mauritian helps in becoming Prime Minister. In history of Mauritius, we’ve had more Indian Mauritians.
“You also need some flexible moral ethics. A bit of penis, a bit of flexibility, a bit of Indian, and be big-mouthed. You know, have a big trumpet. We haven’t had any women as party leaders yet.”
“Before Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, you also had Monique Ohsan Bellepeau who was acting President for a while.” I say. “What is your view on her?”
“Again, it was not elected,” Joe-Ann says. “We needed somebody to fulfil that role. It also happened right before the election so people knew it would change eventually. I don’t think she would have won the election.
“Monique’s also from the general population. It’s still not the majority in terms of public vote.”
“Many other developed and developing countries have already had female leaders, yet the USA hasn’t,” I say. “What do you think of this contradiction?
“Benazir Bhutto,” Joe-Ann says.
“She’s Muslim,” Joe-Ann continues. “We have this preconception of Muslim societies as being male-dominated. But in her case it didn’t really matter. But when it’s the US, it suddenly becomes a big deal. It’s funny cause the US is the biggest power in the world.
“Shame on them that it hasn’t happened yet.”
I hear ya. I hear ya. Thankfully, there are plenty of other examples in contemporary history. Helen Clark, Indira Gandhi, Angela Merkel… and the list goes on. But whether or not a woman will ever be President of the USA is a question that as a non-American, I have no say in.
It doesn’t stop me from talking about it. Free speech all the way, eh?
In the interim, I think we women do sometimes have the chance to run the world. We can do it. We have already done it. And we will continue to do so in the future.
But I think it’s high time we boys and girls learnt to do it together. What say you?