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Aug 31, 2017

Women, Power and Politics in Belize Under Discussion at Conference

The national women’s commission held a first of its kind women in politics conference today. The event, held under the theme ‘Empowered Women: Empowering Women for Meaningful Change,’ brought together women in political office as well as women of leadership roles in organizations and communities.  With objectives to inspire, empower and educate so as to see higher representation of women in government and positions of leadership, the conference featured an international presenter as well as several local presenters who spoke about their experiences in politics in Belize. News Five’s Andrea has more on the conference.

 

Andrea Polanco, Reporting

The first national Women in Politics Conference was held today in Belize City. It is being held ahead of the 2018 municipal elections with the objective to inspire women aspiring for office, but also to empower women in the wider community. Forums like this one is critical for the political arena and governance in Belize. Women are largely under-represented in politics, and that is why the National Women’s Commission hopes to use this event for more than just talk.

 

Ann-Marie Williams

Ann-Marie Williams, Exec. Dir, National Women’s Commission

“Recommendations will come out of this conference, this afternoon during our breakout sessions we will have recommendations that we will be presenting at the end that we will act upon. Maybe the group decides now that they want to form a group or a foundation of something like that. So, whatever comes out of it with the idea that we must continue the Women in Politics Project. So, that is what the Commission will actually continue to do.”

 

Guest speaker of Rutgers University’s Center for American Women in Politics Dr Kelly Dittmar says that the under-representation of women in politics is universal. So what can women whether in office or not, do to help make the playing field more gender friendly in Belize?

 

Kelly Dittmar

Dr. Kelly Dittmar, Scholar at Center for American Women in Politics, Rutgers University

“I think that is key. One is recognizing that women’s underrepresentation or men’s over representation is a problem, that we should actually care that there is not enough or an equal number of women in politics. And women can help raise that awareness that it is a problem. And two, is also having women’s backs when they run for office and when they put themselves forward in a very male dominated institution doesn’t mean you always have to support ideologically that woman, but it means that you don’t contribute to the negativity that women often face when they run for office and that you call it out when they are attacked on things that are totally unfair and other than politics. Lastly, women can also help very directly by helping financially or helping strategically providing a support network for women who are running for office.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“What is one thing you hope that these women take away from your message today?”

 

Dr. Kelly Dittmar

“My hope is that these women here today are inspired to see that even though there are challenges in politics, that it is worthwhile and it is necessary for them to stay engaged and participate, whether that be in running for office or supporting other women running for office or just making their voices heard in their communities. I hope that they are inspired to keep going in light of some hurdles that women face.”

 

Supporting the initiative is the US Embassy in Belize.

 

Adrienne Galanek

Adrienne Galanek, Charge d’ Affaires, U.S. Embassy in Belize

“As you know, we work in areas of mutual importance, including citizen security, economic prosperity and promoting democratic governance. All of those things, you can’t advance unless you have full participation of women. One of the things I also learnt in my time at the Navy War College is the importance of diversity and they taught us about an agile and flexible force and in order to achieve those goals you need to have a diverse team. And so, in anything bringing a diverse team together is the recipe for success and in politics, in particular, really having a slate of candidates that represent your populace will really improve decision making anywhere.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.

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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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