Basseterre, St. Kitts, November 19, 2016 (SKNIS): The words of advice given by Senator and Minister of State Honourable Wendy Phipps to new Senator and Deputy Speaker in the National Assembly Honourable, Akilah Byron-Nisbett, was “To thine own self be true.”
Minister of State Phipps noted that this came from her recollection of being in a 6th Form English Class where the Shakespearean Tragedy “Hamlet” was discussed in the words of Polonius to his son Laertes.
“And that is what I would like to say to you here “To thine own self be true,”’ Senator Phipps said. “Never let anyone or anything inside or outside of this parliament change who you are at your core. It means then that you have to be committed to being a person of integrity, a person who stands by your word, and a person who will act in the best interest of everyone when the occasion comes forward to sit in that chair as Deputy Speaker and to operate without fear or favour with the full backing of the Constitution, the full backing of the National Assembly’s Act. That is what I would want to say to you here this morning.”
Minister of State Phipps also noted that Senator Byron-Nisbett’s experience with the St. Kitts National Youth Parliament Association (SKNYPA) would serve her well.
“I also look forward to Ms. Byron-Nisbett coming into her own as she builds confidence in the Parliament,” Senator Phipps said. “I know she comes out of the SKNYPA movement and that is wonderful.”
Senator Byron Nisbett was also encouraged to develop a firm disposition.
“And I would also admonish her that up ‘til now I would have been the only female on the Government benches, that what I have discovered in the 21 months since taking up this role is that you have to develop a very thick skin as a female Senator,” Minister of State Phipps said. “Much will be the criticism, unfair though it might be, much will be the microscopic lens under which you will be looked, much will be the assumptions in terms of who you are or who people perceive you to be, but at the end of the day it comes down to what you see yourself as being, what you see yourself as contributing.”
The matter of gender parity also came to the fore.
“What I wish to focus on in the few minutes that I would like to be accorded is the fact that her presence in Parliament takes the percentage of females from 14 percentage to 20 percent, I also look at her appointment and her joining us as the embodiment of a challenge to the ethos in our community as it relates to the role of women in politics,” Senator Phipps said, noting that previous presenters had mentioned former female parliamentarians such as Her Excellency Constance Mitchum and former Senators Eugenie Condor and Ann Wigley. “What I am hoping from this increase in the female complement on our benches is that not only will we lift the quality of debate, not only will we contribute more in terms of good policy, regulation and legislative formulation that will assist in taking the quality of life of our people in St. Kitts and Nevis to a higher level over time but I also wish that we get to a point in St. Kitts and Nevis where we go beyond counting numbers and counting stats in terms of gender parity and begin to look at each other besides the gender in terms of what we can contribute to St. Kitts and Nevis. I think that is the direction we need to get to. And although it will take us some distance getting there, it is still a very positive start for us.”
Minister of State Phipps congratulated the new Senator, wished her well, and assured of her support and deepest respect.