Friday, June 5, 2015

Mauritius: A woman president for all citizens

     Mauritius: A woman president for all citizens  I think that the great strength that women bring when they move into senior levels of politics is not that they're more nurturing, caring, maternal figures, but that they will bring a certain level of different perspective, a different way of thinking, and that is just really valuable for all of us.”— Nicholas Kristof, journalist, author and Pulitzer Prize winner. 

Professor Ameenah Gurib Fakim will remain in the history of Mauritius as the first woman President of the Republic who has broken many gender stereotypes. She has shown that women can make it with hard work and perseverance. She is the only President of the Republic who does not come from any political background and is getting the highest function of the state on her own merit. All the male presidents we have had since 1992 starting with Sir Veerasamy Ringadoo followed by Cassam Uteem, Karl Offman, Sir Anerood Jugnauth and Kailash Purryag were members of political parties. By holding the highest and most prestigious position of the Republic of Mauritius she is lighting the torch and showing to the world that African and Mauritian women can make it to the top.

Gurib Fakim is among the most qualified woman in the region let alone Mauritius. She is a monument in the scientific and technological fields. She now joins the club of women world leaders. We are proud that she is among the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia; Cristina Fernandez de Larchner of Argentina; Dalia Grybanskaite of Lithuania; Dilma Rousseff of Brazil; Michelle Bachelet of Chile; Atifete Jahjaga of Kosovo; Park Geun-hye of South Korea; Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic of Croatia; and Marie Louise Coleiro Preca of Malta, to name only a few female presidents. After Joyce Banda, former President of Malawi, we now have Ameenah Gurib Fakim— the only woman President in the SADC region.
Gurib Fakim was not born with a golden spoon in her mouth, but contrary to many African girls, she was lucky to have parents who believe in gender equality and in girl’s education. Never in our wildest dream would we have thought that in such a patriarchal society like ours, Mauritians are speaking with one voice to say we are ready for a woman president of the Republic. This comes after 47 years of independence and 23 years of being a Republic.  Gurib Fakim made it to the top through her achievements at the national, regional and international fronts. Breaking glass ceiling is not an easy job especially when the glass is still so very thick.
I still remember when I was conducting training to encourage women to join politics, a man in a high level position told me I wanted to put “vase a fleur” (flower pots) in decision-making posts. Gurib Fakim is proving him wrong. Our women parliamentarians may have a lot to learn, and they must use our new president as a role model.
Gurib Fakim completed her university studies in England and holds a PhD in Chemistry from Exeter University. She was the first woman to become Chair in Organic Chemistry at the University of Mauritius, as well as Dean of Faculty of Science and Pro Vice Chancellor of the University of Mauritius. She helped create the Centre for Phototherapy and Research, and now rebranded CIDP R & I at the very first Bio Park of Mauritius.

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