Dame Sandra Mason has been elected as Barbados’ first-ever president after she secured two-thirds of the vote in the country’s two houses of Parliament. The House voted 27-0 while the Senate voted 18-0.
Mason was elected as the first-ever president of Barbados after the island announced in September 2020 that it would become a republic and Queen Elizabeth II would be removed as the island nation’s head of state.
The politician and lawyer who is the eighth and current governor-general of Barbados since 2018 will be sworn in on Nov. 30 which will mark the country’s 55th anniversary of its independence from Britain.
Here is a profile of her.
- Sandra Prunella Mason was born on 17 January 1949 in Saint Philip, Barbados. She attended St. Catherine’s Primary School for her primary education and Queens College for her secondary education. Mason enrolled in the University of the West Indies at Cave Hill, where she earned a Bachelor of Laws and was one of the first graduates of the Faculty of Law from UWI, Cave Hill, completing her education in 1973.
- In 1975 she became the first woman from Barbados to graduate from Hugh Wooding Law School in Trinidad and Tobago where she obtained a Legal Education Certificate from the first woman attorney-at-law from Barbados to graduate from the school. She was admitted to the bar on 10 November the same year becoming the first woman member of the Barbados Bar Association.
- Sandra began teaching at the Princess Margaret Secondary School in 1968. The following year, she worked at Barclays Bank as a clerk. She was promoted to Trust Administrator in 1975. In 1976, she was transferred to Barclay’s Jamaica Ltd. to take up the same job. In the same year, she joined Barclays Finance Corporation of Barbados, where she remained until 1977.
- In 1978, Mason began working as the Magistrate of the Juvenile and Family Court and simultaneously tutoring in family law at UWI.In 1988, Mason completed the Royal Institute of Public Administration in London’s course on Judicial Administration. 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.
- Between 1991 and 1992, Mason served as chair and was one of the two women appointed to the 13-member CARICOM commission charged with evaluating regional integration.
- She left the family court in 1992 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. Upon her return to Barbados in 1994, Mason was appointed Chief Magistrate for Barbados, and in 1997 became the Registrar of the Supreme Court.
- In 2008, Mason was sworn in as an Appeal Judge becoming the first woman to serve on the Barbados Court of Appeals. For three days in 2012, she became the acting Governor-General of Barbados and the following year was the first Barbadian appointed to membership in the Commonwealth Secretariat Arbitral Tribunal (CSAT).
- Mason was appointed as the eighth Governor-General of Barbados in 2017, 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.On assumption of the office of Governor-General, Dame Sandra Mason became the Chancellor of the Order of National Heroes, Order of Barbados and the Order of Freedom.
- 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.