More women in politics? Local activist hopes to make it happen
Politics can be seen as a zero-sum game locally, but Sara Bharrat, a 33-year-old activist, hopes to help change that as she aims to get more women involved in politics and assume public office.
Not so long ago, when she ran as an independent candidate in the 2016 local government elections, Bharrat herself was interred in political office.
She hoped that she would be given the opportunity to represent her constituency in Craig, on the East Bank of Demerara (EBD).
Unsuccessful in her bid then, she later realised that she could help effect change in other ways.
“Since then, I haven’t been actively involved in running for any public office and I have no plans to run for public office,” Bharrat told the News Room during a recent interview.
She, however, added, “…. for young people with the potential to lead, young women with the potential to run for public office, it is very important that they have role models, technical experts and specialists with knowledge who can teach them how to do this in the best way possible.”
She shied away from calling herself an expert, but acknowledged that she has been involved in electoral policy, administration and more recently, running political campaigns.
What adds to her repertoire now is her recent participation in a one-week training programme with the Campaign School at the Yale University in the United States (US)- the first Guyanese to do so.
Bharrat secured this opportunity, alongside 11 others, through the International Republican Institute (IRI) in Guyana. She works there as a Programme Manager for the Guyana office.
Though shortlisted by the Institute, she had to apply to the university and get accepted on her own merit. Once accepted, she was thrusted into a high-paced, virtual environment that fostered a deeper appreciation for political work in the activist.
“I came out of the campaign school understanding a very fundamental thing and I didn’t see it before: It’s that our political parties, all of our political parties, are important instruments of political engagement.
“They have represented us historically and in fact, some of Guyana’s best and brightest minds are in our political parties and public office is one of the best ways you can shape the future that you help shape Guyana’s future,” Bharrat underscored.
For Bharrat, it’s about empowering women to share their thoughts and ideas, and assuming leadership positions so that they are well able to meaningfully contribute to development. It’s also about moving beyond the “old boys’ club” of leadership affairs and striving towards gender equality.
She acknowledged that Guyana already has a legal quota that specifies that there is a minimum of one-third women candidates included on each electoral list.
But much more is needed.
As such, she hopes to use what she has learnt at the campaign school and even before that to mentor and support women, especially young women, interested in getting into politics or assuming political office.
She said she plans to initiate projects through the IRI, but also continue her work in civil society where she is offering her service to all, without preference.