Sandra Mason

Dame Sandra Prunella Mason FB GCMG DA SC LLD (born 17 January 1949) is a Barbadian politician, lawyer, and diplomat who is serving as the first president of Barbados since 2021. She was previously the eighth and final governor-general of Barbados from 2018 to 2021, the second woman to hold the office. On 20 October 2021, Mason was elected by the Parliament of Barbados to become the country's first president, and took office on 30 November 2021, when Barbados ceased to be a constitutional monarchy and became a republic.

Sandra Mason
FB GCMG DA SC LLD
Mason in 2019
1st President of Barbados
Assumed office
30 November 2021
Prime MinisterMia Mottley
Preceded byOffice established
Elizabeth II (as Queen of Barbados)
8th Governor-General of Barbados
In office
8 January 2018  30 November 2021
MonarchElizabeth II
Prime MinisterFreundel Stuart
Mia Mottley
Preceded byPhilip Greaves (acting)
Succeeded byOffice abolished
Personal details
Born
Sandra Prunella Mason

(1949-01-17) 17 January 1949
Saint Philip, Barbados
Political partyIndependent
EducationUniversity of the West Indies, Cave Hill (LLB)
Hugh Wooding Law School (LEC)
Occupation
  • Politician
  • lawyer
  • diplomat

Mason was a practicing attorney-at-law who has served as a High Court judge in Saint Lucia and a Court of Appeal judge in Barbados, and was the first woman admitted to the bar in Barbados. She served as chair of the CARICOM commission to evaluate regional integration, was the first magistrate appointed an ambassador from Barbados, and was the first woman to serve on the country's Supreme Court. She was the first appointee from Barbados to the Commonwealth Secretariat Arbitral Tribunal. In 2017, she was appointed the 8th governor-general of Barbados, with a term beginning on 8 January 2018. Simultaneously with her appointment, Mason was awarded the Dame Grand Cross in the Order of Saint Michael and Saint George. On assumption of the office of Governor-General, she became the Chancellor of the Order of National Heroes, Order of Barbados and the Order of Freedom.[1][2]

Early life and education

Sandra Prunella Mason was born on 17 January 1949[3] in Saint Philip, Barbados.[4] After studying at St. Catherine's Primary School until age nine, she attended secondary school at Queen's College,[5] then began teaching at the Princess Margaret Secondary School in 1968.[6] The following year, she worked at Barclays Bank as a clerk. Mason enrolled in the University of the West Indies at Cave Hill, where she earned a Bachelor of Laws.[3] Mason was one of the first graduates of the Faculty of Law from UWI, Cave Hill, completing her education in 1973.

In 1975 she obtained a Legal Education Certificate from Hugh Wooding Law School in Trinidad and Tobago, becoming the first woman attorney-at-law from Barbados to graduate from the school.[5] She was admitted to the bar on 10 November the same year,[7] becoming the first woman member of the Barbados Bar Association.[3] She is a Soroptimist and Patron of SI Barbados.[8]

Beginning in 1975, she worked in Trust Administration for Barclay's and transferred to several different posts within the Barclay's company until 1977.

In 1978, Mason began working as the Magistrate of the Juvenile and Family Court and simultaneously tutoring in family law at UWI. She stopped tutoring in 1983 and continuing as magistrate. In 1988, Mason completed the Royal Institute of Public Administration in London's course on Judicial Administration.[3] She served on the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child from its 1991 inception until 1999, holding the vice chair from 1993 to 1995 and chair from 1997 to 1999.[9]

Between 1991 and 1992, Mason served as chair[3] and was one of the two women appointed to the 13-member CARICOM commission charged with evaluating regional integration.[4] She left the family court in 1992[3] to serve as an ambassador to Venezuela, and was the first woman magistrate from Barbados to serve in that position. Between 1993 and 1994 she also served as ambassador to Chile, Colombia and Brazil.[5] Upon her return to Barbados[7] in 1994, Mason was appointed Chief Magistrate for Barbados, and in 1997 became the Registrar of the Supreme Court.[10]

In 2000, Mason completed studies on Alternative Dispute Resolution at the University of Windsor in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, and then completed a Fellowship with the Commonwealth Judicial Education Institute in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in 2001, as well as a course in Advanced Dispute Resolution at UWI.[3] She continued to serve as Registrar of the Supreme Court until 2005, when she was appointed as Queen's Counsel to the Inner Bar of Barbados.[3] In 2008, Mason was sworn in as an Appeals Judge[10] becoming the first woman to serve on the Barbados Court of Appeals.[3] For three days in 2012, she became the acting Governor-General of Barbados[11] and the following year was the first Barbadian appointed to membership in the Commonwealth Secretariat Arbitral Tribunal (CSAT). The Tribunal operates among members of the Commonwealth of Nations to resolve issues concerning contract disputes.[4] With that appointment, Loop News named her one of the 10 most powerful women in Barbados.[12]

Governor-General of Barbados

Mason delivering the Throne Speech in September 2020

In 2017, Mason was appointed as the eighth Governor-General of Barbados, with a term beginning on 8 January 2018. Simultaneously with her appointment, Mason was also appointed a Dame Grand Cross in the Order of Saint Michael and Saint George.[13]

Mason presenting National Awards during the 2020 Independence Day parade

In 2020, Mason, in her official capacity announcing government policy in the Throne Speech, written by the government of Prime Minister Mia Mottley, stated that Barbados would become a republic, removing Queen Elizabeth II as head of state.[14] She was then expected to be nominated as a candidate to be the first president of Barbados, then to be elected by the two houses of parliament, and to assume office on 30 November 2021.[15][16][17]

President of Barbados

On 12 October 2021, Mason was nominated by Prime Minister Mia Mottley and Opposition Leader Joseph Atherley to become the first President of Barbados.[18] On 20 October she was elected by both houses without opposition, although no national vote amongst the people was ever held.[19] Mason took office on 30 November 2021,[20][21] the 55th anniversary of Independence. While she is nominally chief executive and is the sole head of state in Barbados, in practice her role is mostly ceremonial, much like her previous role as Governor-General.[22] She made her first official visit to Kenya in June 2022.[23]

Honours

References

Citations

  1. "Order of National Heroes Act 1998" (PDF). Government of Barbados. 20 April 1998. Retrieved 28 April 2021.
  2. Government of Barbados (19 August 2019). "Official Gazette – No. 67 (Package)". Government Information Service. Retrieved 26 April 2021.
  3. "Sandra Prunella Mason". St. Michael, Barbados: Caribbean Elections. 2015. Retrieved 1 December 2015.
  4. "Justice Sandra Mason records another first". Barbados Advocate. St. Michael, Barbados. 9 August 2013. Retrieved 1 December 2015.
  5. "Governor General". Official Website of the Barbados Government. Retrieved 25 October 2021.
  6. "Caribbean Elections Biography | Sandra Prunella Mason". caribbeanelections.com. Retrieved 25 October 2021.
  7. Brathwaite 1999, p. 287.
  8. "Soroptimists committed to empowerment of women, girls". The Barbados Advocate. 20 June 2018.
  9. Erickson, Cohen & Hart 2001, p. 231.
  10. Blackman, Theresa (30 September 2008). "Court of Appeal Judge Sworn In". St. Michael, Barbados: Barbados Government Information Service. Retrieved 1 December 2015.
  11. Martindale, Carol (30 May 2012). "Justice Sandra Mason acting GG". Nation News. St. Michael, Barbados. Retrieved 1 December 2015.
  12. "The 10 most powerful women in Barbados". The Loop. 23 October 2015. Archived from the original on 19 August 2016. Retrieved 1 December 2015.
  13. "Sandra Mason to be new Governor General". Nation News. Fontabelle, Saint Michael, Barbados. 27 December 2017. Archived from the original on 27 December 2017. Retrieved 27 December 2017.
  14. "Barbados to remove Queen Elizabeth as head of state". BBC News. 16 September 2020. Retrieved 25 October 2020.
  15. "Dame Sandra Mason nominated to be first Barbados President". CARICOM Today. 23 August 2021. Retrieved 29 September 2021.
  16. "Barbados announces presidential nominee, cuts ties with British monarchy. What does it mean?". WION. 6 September 2021. Retrieved 29 September 2021.
  17. "Barbados to quit British Commonwealth effective December 1 — MercoPress". MercoPress. Retrieved 5 October 2021..
  18. "Letter to the Speaker RE Nomination of Her Excellency Dame Sandra Mason as 1st President of Barbados" (PDF). Parliament of Barbados. 12 October 2021. Retrieved 16 October 2021.
  19. Barbados just appointed its first president as it becomes a republic - The National
  20. Pride of Nationhood: Declaration of the Republic and Installation of the President of Barbados, retrieved 30 November 2021
  21. "Replacing the queen -- Barbados's first president, Sandra Mason". France24 English. 29 November 2021. Retrieved 30 November 2021.
  22. Christine Hauser (22 October 2021). "Barbados Elects Its First Head of State, Replacing Queen Elizabeth".
  23. "President Dame Sandra Mason makes first official visit to Kenya". Loop News. 9 June 2022.
  24. Nya Phillips (30 May 2018). "Another Honour For Dame Sandra Mason". Barbados Gov. Information Service.
  25. "Press Release: Governor General of Barbados, Dame Sandra Mason becomes patron of St John Ambulance Barbados". The Order of St. John, St. John International. 30 May 2018.

Bibliography

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