[Politics] Barbados elects the first black woman President, Dame Sandra Prunella Mason

On Wednesday 20th October 2021, The House and Senate of Barbados chose Dame Sandra Prunella Mason, the governor general to be the first President of Barbados. The Caribbean nation is set to become a Republic and she will replace Queen Elisabeth II as head of state. The country’s governor general since 2018, will be sworn in as President on Tuesday 30th November, making the Caribbean island a Republic on the 55th anniversary of its independence from Britain in 1966. 

Dame Sandra Prunella Mason, 72, was elected with the necessary two-thirds majority vote at a joint session of the Parliament’s House of Assembly and Senate. Members of the House of Assembly voted 27-0 and those in the Senate 18-0.

“We believe that the time has come for us to claim our full destiny,” Prime Minister Mia Mottley said in a speech after the vote. “We look forward, therefore, to December 1, 2021. But we do so confident that we have just elected from among us a woman who is uniquely and passionately Barbadian”, she added.

Dame Sandra Prunella Manson said: “The time has come to fully leave our colonial past behind”. “Barbadians want a Barbadian head of state.”

The biography of Dame Sandra Prunella Mason

According to the Government Information Service, her Excellency Dame Sandra Prunella Mason is a former jurist. She was born on the 17th January 1949 in East Point, St. Philip, Barbados. As a child, she attended Queen’s College, then she obtained the Bachelor of Laws (LLB) degree in 1973 at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus. She also became the first Barbadian female Attorney-at-Law to have graduated from the Hugh Wooding Law School in 1975. In the 1990’s-2000’s, she completed her education in London, Canada and Houston.

During her career, she held different positions. She began as a teacher at the Princess Margaret Secondary School (1968-1969), she worked at Barclays Bank DCO, Barbados, and was promoted Trust Administrator for the period 1975-1976.

In 1978, she worked as the Magistrate of the Juvenile and Family Court, while simultaneously tutoring in Family Law at UWI. She was also one of the two women appointed to the 13-member CARICOM commission charged with evaluating regional integration. 

In 1993-1994, she served as an Ambassador to Venezuela, Chile, Colombia and Brazil. Upon her return to Barbados, she was appointed as Chief Magistrate for Barbados, and later became the Registrar of the Supreme Court until 2005.

In 2005, she was appointed as Queen’s Counsel to the Inner Bar of Barbados. In 2008, she became the first woman to serve as a judge on the Barbados Court of Appeals.

On 1st January 2014, she was the first Barbadian to be appointed as a member of the Commonwealth Secretariat Arbitral Tribunal (CSAT), based in London, England. In 2017, she became the first female President of that tribunal.

She is the mother of son Matthew, who is also an Attorney-at-Law.  She likes reading, playing scrabble, watching cricket and traveling.

Source: Website of the Government Information Service

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