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Mar 12, 2015

International Women’s Month Celebrated

Across the world, International Women’s Month was celebrated on March eight. Here at home, we continue the month long observance with the Women’s Department promoting several events including medical clinics, expos, awareness fairs and exhibits across the country. Today, we spoke with the National Women’s Commission which serves as an advisory body to the government about issues facing women. Executive Director, Pulcheria Teul, discussed the disparities and how we can bridge those gaps as a country. Andrea Polanco has the story.

 

Andrea Polanco, Reporting

March is observed as women’s month in Belize, consequently the disparities between men and women are usually propelled to the fore as discussed on national platforms. In Belize, the inequalities, majority of which women face, are numerous: from the access to education, income, to violence and discrimination in society.

 

Pulcheria Teul

Pulcheria Teul, Executive Director, National Women’s Commission

“There are many challenges and I think one in education will always be the economic status of women, especially in rural communities. Access, especially down in Toledo and since I from there I can share that with you with very much compassion. Access to education is linked to transportation, phone services in the communities. So those are limitations that we need to improve for women to be able access education. I guess it goes all across the country. In terms of health, there is much work that is needed there. Our health services have improved but we need to have specialized services for women and that is an issue. A rising issue is cancer; women with breast cancer, cervical cancer; we don’t have that specialized service in all our hospitals and rural clinics. In terms of other social issues and public matters, women need more opportunities and it will come through education. So it is important for women to have access to education so that they can make better choices. We know that we have a lot of women who are interested in becoming politicians and they may not have the education to become a well rounded representative.”

 

But gender inequity, particularly as it relates to women, is not unique to Belize. It is, however, a national issue that must be addressed.

 

Pulcheria Teul

“One specific goal is meeting the implementation of the National Gender Policy and that is the responsibility of several partners because we are not an implementing agency, we take on the coordinating role and advocacy to ensure that partners are complying and developing projects that would improve gender issues here in Belize. What the policy will do, first of all, is to ensure that Government creates the opportunity for gender budgeting. If that is put in place, we know then that all the ministries will be looking at specific gender issues that needs to or requires an improved budget. For example, it may look at one million dollars for rural health care. Is that enough? We know that the policy needs to examine that issue there and make the recommendations that we need three million dollars for rural health care and because we have a, b and c now as cases that need urgent attention. That’s what the policy will do for both education, health, and other sectors.”

 

And while significant work needs to be done, programs implemented to bridge the gap in some areas have, albeit slowly, effected change.

 

Pulcheria Teul

“I know that, for women especially, I know that the Women In Politics kinda spurred off the interest in many of our candidates who have run. And successfully, we have had our first female mayor in Punta Gorda, Ms Fern Gutierrez. I think that that is a good result that will serve as an incentive for other women to become more interested.  I think we have grown. Belize is becoming more mature and the fact that we are seeing more women in political leadership, political parties, it is telling us that women are now moving up towards taking responsibility for national development and that is a very important step because we are now creating a balance within decision making spaces.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I am Andrea Polanco.

 

The theme for this year’s Women’s Month is Women: Changing History, Building Futures, Drivers of Change.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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