When the opening session of parliament in The Bahamas convened on Wednesday, Oct. 6, under the new Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) government, a woman was sworn in as speaker of the House of Assembly for only the second time in that country’s history.
Patricia Deveaux, member of parliament for the Bamboo Town constituency, expressed her gratitude to the Bahamian people for the opportunity to serve as speaker of house and pledged “to protect the privileges of this House and of members, so that they can enjoy almost untethered freedom to speak on behalf of Bahamians.”
“It is my hope that, notwithstanding our partisan opinions, this parliament will create better relations with each other, while tabling the affairs of the people, in order to create progressive and transforming recommendations, which will ultimately enhance legislative change,” the new speaker declared, adding: “The business of this house will be conducted in an atmosphere of respect. I charge all members to be courteous and respectful to the chair. I charge members to also be courteous and respectful to each other in the conduct of your debates.”
All seven of the PLP women candidates won seats in the House of Assembly in the Sept. 16 general election, and in addition to Ms. Deveaux being named speaker, five of the other winning women candidates hold cabinet-level positions in the new government headed by Prime Minister Philip “Brave” Davis.
The first female speaker of The Bahamas House of Assembly was Italia Johnson who served in that position from April 9, 1997 to Sept. 2, 2002.