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New Senator Janelle Chanona speaks to importance of women’s representation

Posted: Friday, March 11, 2022. 5:02 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: The balance of women’s representation in the House of Representatives and Senate has arguably never been better.

Currently the House has four elected women members, including a Minister and Minister of State. The Senate had three members – two Government, one Opposition – and both Houses are headed by women – Speaker Valerie Woods and President Carolyn Trench-Sandiford.

Now, Janelle Chanona’s election as a Senator for the non-governmental organizations ties both houses’ women’s caucus at four-all – five-all if the Speaker and President are included (the Constitution recognizes both positions as de facto members of the respective houses of the National Assembly).

It’s a big win – but Chanona noted that it was a matter of coincidence in part: “As we spoke to the membership earlier today, I definitely emphasized that Dr [Sharmayne] Saunders and I were the two that responded to the call when the community said, who would stand and be counted? That’s a kudos; it worked out that it was two women, but certainly I don’t think any of us were expecting to be supported just on the virtue of being women; it’s just that we were asking the community to support the best person that was putting themselves forward, so the community could make a decision there.”

Nonetheless, she added, having more women on Independence Hill won’t hurt, and she promises it will be real: “I don’t see where that has ever hurt, in terms of having a female voice and female representation in any circle or any quarter, so I’m proud to be part of that number. And as I spoke earlier, making sure that that’s real representation and not tokenism or some poster person, but making sure that that will always be a voice amplifying the needs of others, because you know that when we lift up women, we lift up entire families.”


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