Since its inception, the People’s National Movement (PNM) has never had a female leader but change is coming, lady vice chairman Pennelope Beckles has said. It was the strongest hint from her so far that she would run for the top leadership post and thus challenge political leader Dr Keith Rowley.
For the first time, the PNM will elect a new leader through the one man one vote system on May 18.
Rowley has already kicked off his campaign hosting meetings nationwide.
Party sources told the Express yesterday that Beckles has strong support from members at all levels of the party and over the past few weeks she has been encouraged to throw her hat in the election ring.
She is expected to make a statement this week on whether she will indeed be challenging Rowley for the PNM’s leadership.
Beckles yesterday hinted the direction of her decision as she spoke of the need for change in the PNM by embracing its women at leadership levels to further build the party as the next and best alternative Government.
She was speaking at a function hosted by the PNM Women’s League at the Couva Chamber of Commerce where long standing women in the party who served in Local Government were honoured.
Four women were honoured- Nafeesa Mohammed, former chairman of the Barataria/San Juan regional corporation, Patrica Mejias, former chairman of the Tunapuna/Piarco regional corporation, Brigid Annisette George a former Attorney General who also served on the Diego Martin regional corporation and a special honour went to deputy political leader Joan Yuille-Williams for her devotion to party.
Beckles, in delivering remarks at the event noted that the PNM made waves in placing women at leadership levels such as in the Senate where she served as leader of the Opposition bench and was replaced with Camille Robinson-Regis, Marlene McDonald as chief whip in the Lower House and the party had a female chairman with Dr Linda Baboolal in the past.
“In the 58-year history of the PNM we are yet to have a woman serving at the top of the party, that is at the leadership but I am sure after 58 years that will be soon in coming,” said Beckles.
Her comments were loudly applauded by the full house in attendance.
She noted that in the local government elections last year, some 70 per cent of women won their position and 14 females were appointed aldermen.
However, she noted that there was no female serving at the leadership level at the Corporation.
She noted in the past, PNM women led corporations in San Fernando and Arima.
Beckles added that women were the driving force for the PNM’s electoral victory in the St Joseph by-election where Terrence Deyalsingh was voted as the constituency MP.
She said on the walkabouts in that campaign, 95 per cent of the people walking with Deyalsingh were women.
Beckles said the principles and vision of former PNM leader and prime minister Dr Eric Williams must be remembered and taught to the youth.
She said leaders which followed such as George Chambers, Patrick Manning and Keith Rowley have all served and built the party.
“But changes are coming faster and faster and that poses real challenge to the PNM in 2014,” said Beckles.
She said the PNM must win support from all voters throughout the country and must take to social media through Facebook and Twitter to take the party forward.
Beckles said there must be no division and the PNM must build its support as challenges have made it stronger over the years.
“The PNM continues to be a very strong and vibrant party as we approach 2015 and general election we must continue to prepare ourselves to let the public know that the PNM is the next alternative Government and the best Government that has ever led Trinidad and Tobago,” she said.