Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley has been listed among Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People of 2022, which comes as no surprise considering her international impact in recent months. And to emphasise her significance, she appears on one of the five global covers, just released.
The magazine said Mottley is a bold and fearless icon in her country who possesses intellect, wit and described her as a brilliant politician who shakes things up.
“From poverty to debt to climate change, she is a vocal advocate on the world stage for responsible stewardship of our planet, so that nations large and small and people rich and poor can survive and thrive together,” it said of Mottley, adding: “She is an icon in her country, having won re-election by a landslide. The prime minister strides boldly on the world stage. She is an embodiment of our conscience, reminding us all to treat our planet, and therefore one another, with love, dignity, and care.”
This honour follows Mottley’s delivery at the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland, where she scolded the world’s leaders for not working more diligently to mitigate the impacts of climate change, telling them to try harder.
Mottley’s diligence was also underscored following her chairmanship of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund’s Development Committee when she impressed upon the world’s finance gurus that the level of a country’s per capita income may not always be the best measure of its wealth.
Mottley, 56, is the second woman prime minister in the region to make the list behind former Jamaica PM Portia Simpson Miller in 2012. At that time, Simpson Miller was said to be the embodiment of perseverance and strength. The 100 list also includes Oprah Winfrey, Joe Biden, Keanu Reeves and Joe Rogan.
A Time spokesman said: “When our team gets together to choose the TIME100, we have one barometer: influence. Who shaped the year? Who stood up? Who stood out? Influence, of course, may be for good or for ill—a dichotomy never more visible than in this year’s TIME100, which includes both Vladimir Putin and Volodymyr Zelensky. They are the poles of this list, and of this moment. The Russian dictator behind a brutal war, and his foe, the Ukrainian President, whose leadership has made him a rare heroic figure in our divisive time.
Mottley said: “The choice of my public life has been to be a lawyer, an advocate, as well as to be a representative of the people.” Her determined advocacy for the Caribbean at COP 26 made her far more than a champion of the region. The rationale for Mottley’s inclusion on the list was penned by Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, director-general of the World Trade Organisation, herself an environmental sustainability advocate.
Mottley’s other achievements include spearheading other progressive initiatives, including starting the process to abolish the secondary school entrance exam, long regarded as a thorn in the side of equitable education in the region; declaring her intent for Barbados to recognise same-sex unions; and delivering on her promise of making Barbados a republic. Telling TIME Magazine that her country and the wider region “have been the victims of imperial ambitions for too long,” she wanted to let “that little Barbadian boy, that little Barbadian girl, believe that they could aspire to the head of state in their own country.”
Her administration also coordinated the removal of a statue of British naval commander Horatio Nelson from the country’s National Heroes Square, because of his role in the transatlantic slave trade: “Sometimes we need to put things away,” she explained in her video, “contextualise them and move again. And that’s all we’re doing, without acrimony, without great emotion, but we believe that we must do this as an act of self-love.”
Her deep-rooted sense of social justice, her pride in her Caribbean heritage, and her clear vision for the excellence her country can offer the world despite its size, are all vital ingredients of the Motley brand of governance. She considers herself a representative of the electorate rather than a politician.