BARBADOS Prime Minister Mia Mottley is not afraid!
Mia Amor Mottley, SC, MP (born 1 October 1965) is a Barbadian politician and attorney who has served as the eighth prime minister of Barbados since 2018 and as Leader of the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) since 2008. Mottley is the first woman to hold either position. She is also Barbados’ first prime minister under its republican system, following constitutional changes she introduced that abolished the country’s constitutional monarchy.
Mottley has been the Member of Parliament for the constituency of Saint Michael North-East since 1994. From 1994 to 2008, she held a succession of ministerial portfolios including the post of Attorney-General of Barbados becoming the first woman to be appointed as such. She is also a member of the Inter-American Dialogue.
Mottley was twice the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Assembly of Barbados first from 2008 to 2010 then from 2013 to 2018. In 2018, the Mottley-led BLP won a historic landslide victory in the 24 May general election, securing all 30 seats in the House—making them the first party to accomplish this feat—in addition to winning 72.8 percent of the popular vote, which is the highest share ever achieved by a party in a general election.
Mottley won a second term in office at the 2022 general election, once again sweeping all 30 seats in the legislature in a snap election that she called.
Early Life, Family, and Education
Mottley is the granddaughter of Ernest Deighton Mottley (1907–1973), a real estate broker and successful politician, particularly at the parish level. He was the first Mayor of Bridgetown (1959), representing Bridgetown in the House of Assembly from 1946, who belonged to the conservative Barbados National Party. He was granted the Ordinary Commander of the Civil Division for public services in Barbados in June 1962 and assisted Wynter Algernon Crawford (1910–1993), Barbados’s Trade Minister, at the Independent Conference in London during June and July 1966.
Mottley’s uncle, also named Ernest Deighton Mottley, became the political leader of the short-lived Christian Social Democratic Party (CSD) created in March 1975. Her cousin was the actress Eva Mottley.
Mia’s father Elliott Deighton Mottley was a barrister who sat in the House of Assembly for a relatively short time, vacating the seat to become consul-general in New York. He was educated at Eagle Hall School, Harrison College (Barbados), Middle Temple and the Inns of Court School of Law. He once served as Bermuda’s attorney-general and sits on the Court of Appeal of Belize. He married Mia’s mother Santa Amor Tappin in December 1967, three years after being called to the Bar, and was elected to represent Bridgetown in May 1969. It has been suggested that the Prime Minister of the time, Errol Barrow, used his parliamentary majority to abolish local government altogether and therefore undermine Elliott Mottley’s strength in the political arena.
Mia Mottley was educated at Merrivale Preparatory School, the United Nations International School, and Queen’s College (Barbados). She later studied at the London School of Economics and was awarded a law degree from the University of London in 1986.
Mottley with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, 24 September 2018
In the 24 May 2018 general election, the BLP won the biggest majority government in Barbadian history, winning more than 70 per cent of the popular vote and all 30 seats in the legislature. Mottley was sworn in as Barbados’s first female Prime Minister on 25 May 2018. During her tenure as prime minister, she has held the additional portfolio of Minister of Finance.
A week after the elections, Joseph Atherley, MP for St. Michael West, left the BLP to become the House of Assembly’s sole opposition member, citing concerns about democracy. He was subsequently appointed Leader of the Opposition.
In May 2018, Mottley disclosed previously uncovered financial obligations of the state, saying that the new government inherited a large debt. Disclosure of information about the current level of debt led to an increase in the debt-to-GDP ratio from 137 per cent to 175 per cent — the fourth-highest value in the world after Japan, Greece, and Sudan. Mottley announced that the new government had no other choice than to ask the IMF to facilitate debt restructuring. A week later, following the election, on 5 June 2018, Barbados failed to fulfil its obligation to pay the 26th coupon on Eurobonds maturing in 2035. This was the first time in history that a sitting government did not fulfil its obligation.
In the 2019 New Year Honours, Mottley’s father Elliott Mottley received a knighthood on the nomination of the Barbadian government.
Mottley addressed the United Nations General Assembly in New York on 27 September 2019 with a 39-minute speech centred on climate change and its effects in Barbados and other Caribbean nations.
In 2020, Mottley served as the Chairperson of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) bloc, a rotating position held for six months.
Mottley at the opening ceremony of the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow on 1 November 2021
In the 2020 Throne Speech, Mottley’s government announced a plan to abolish the Barbadian monarchy, removing the Queen of Barbados, Elizabeth II, as the country’s sovereign and head of state, making Barbados a republic. She argued that after more than 54 years of independence, it was time for Barbados to “fully leave our colonial past behind”. Under her proposal, the country would retain a parliamentary system, with a mostly ceremonial president as head of state. The goal was to conclude the plan by 30 November 2021, the 55th anniversary of the country’s independence. Whether the process could be completed by that time was “not clear”, according to an investigation of the situation by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in March 2021.
On 27 July 2021, the Day of National Significance in Barbados, Mottley announced that Barbados’s cabinet had decided that the country would become a parliamentary republic by 30 November.
On 12 October 2021, incumbent governor-general, Dame Sandra Mason was jointly nominated by Mottley and the leader of the opposition as a candidate for the country’s first president and was subsequently elected on 20 October. Mason took office on 30 November 2021 in a ceremony also attended by Charles, Prince of Wales.
Mottley addressed the United Nations General Assembly in New York on 24 September 2021 with a short speech to support UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ warnings that the world is moving in the wrong direction. She threw away her original script and instead gave a passionate post in which she called for global, moral leadership in the fight against climate change, economic and technological inequality, racism, and unfair distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.
Following her party’s landslide victory in the 2022 election, Mottley was sworn in as prime minister for a second term on 20 January.
Mottley was featured on the cover of TIME magazine, the first Barbadian to do so, for their 2022 edition of “100 Most Influential People” for her outspoken advocacy for addressing climate change.
On 20 June 2022, it was reported that Mottley had tested positive for COVID-19. A media statement was released, stating: “It is a mild case, and she has indicated that she is doing well.”
Mottley hosted a retreat convened in Barbados at the end of July with senior United Nations officials, the Rockefeller and Open Society Foundations, academics and civil society, and other international figures, following which she laid out the “Bridgetown Agenda”, offering practical solutions to reform the international financial system in connection with halting climate change.
On 23 September 2022, Mottley delivered the inaugural Kofi Annan Memorial Lecture, hosted by the Kofi Annan Foundation, in partnership with the International Peace Institute, Open Society Foundations and International Crisis Group.
In November 2022, Mottley delivered the Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture.
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