Mia Mottley, Prime Minister of Barbados, has made a habit of delivering stirring calls to action. ]
At the recent United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) in Egypt this past November, attended by over 90 heads of state, thousands of officials, business representatives, and various advocacy groups, Mottley demanded more from the leaders of countries within the global north.
A Voice for Change
It was an encore to a similar, and no less passionate, speech she delivered at the same event just the year before. Mottley commanded the stage, words dripping with genuine exasperation. “This world looks, still, too much like when it was part of an imperialistic empire. The global north borrows with interest rates between one to four percent. The global south, around 14%. And then we wonder why the energy partnerships are not working.”
It’s these ‘truth-to-power’ statements that have endeared her to millions around the globe and secured her a slot on Time Magazines’ illustrious “100 Most Influential People of 2022” list, and among the Financial Times’ 25 most influential women of 2022 list. #
Mottley does not speak solely from a Barbadian perspective, or even a Caribbean one, she voices the anxieties and frustrations of every citizen in the developing world.#
In her speech at COP 26, she interrogated the conscience of heads of state around the world. “So I ask you: what must we say to our people living on the front line in the Caribbean, in Africa, in Latin America, in the Pacific, when both ambition and, regrettably, some of the needed faces at Glasgow, are not present? What excuse should we give for the failure? In the words of that Caribbean icon Eddy Grant: “Will they mourn us on the front line?”
Advocating for Social Justice
Championing climate change has endeared her in recent times, but Mottley has always been a staunch advocate and battler of imperialism. On November 30, 2021, Barbados became a republic and just the fifth Caribbean country to do so. Mottley has ushered in a new era, free of British politics and representatives of the British Empire. In an interview with Time Magazine, Mottley lays it bare. “We have been the victim of imperial ambitions for too long.
“We recognize that it was important to be able to let that little Barbadian boy, that little Barbadian girl, believe that they could be head of state in their own country.” She continued, “To have someone become the head of state purely on the basis of a hereditary lane, is the very opposite of what we’re telling them in terms of raising them up – to pursue and to be passionate about social justice and to believe that they can do and be anything in the world.”
Prime Minister Mia Mottley is the first female Barbadian Prime Minister. She is a beloved veteran politician, following in the footsteps of her grandfather, Ernest Deighton Mottley, a real estate broker and the first mayor of Bridgetown.
In her historic career thus far, she holds the record for the most dominant political victory in the country’s history, securing all thirty seats as leader of the Barbados Labour Party, in addition to winning 72.8 percent of the popular vote – the largest share ever won by a party in a general election. She has spent years championing environmental protection and spearheading food security and reforestation programs on her island home.