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Mar 21, 2012

Women in Politics Program graduates 16

Politics was not only played out in Belmopan. In Belize City, sixteen women are ready to enter politics. In the recent general elections, only three women put their name on the ballot for office. One won and was sworn in today as a member of the National Assembly. Two other women have been named senators and brought into government as ministers. The Women in Politics programme has been promoting greater participation by women, but how far reaching is it? News Five’s Andrea Polanco reports.

Andrea Polanco, Reporting

The Women in Politics Programme held its graduation ceremony for sixteen women. The graduates of cohort three today received certificates for the completion of sixteen weeks of training.

Ann-Marie Williams

But with almost a hundred graduates to date, there is only a handful of the participants at the village and town council levels. So looking at the big picture, with only two women, who have been appointed, in Government, what does this mean for women in politics in Belize?  Project Manager, Anne Marie Williams says that while success has been small, it must not be over-looked:

Ann-Marie Williams, Project Manager, WIP

“Of this cohort, we took in twenty and sixteen graduated. Of the twenty, we had two women who ran for town board, and one was successful in Belmopan. The successes can be measured incrementally. Where we never had any women in parliament, before the two senators were appointed, we didn’t get to that place over night. But this is to build a critical mass of women to enter politics at the highest levels. Not necessarily only for women to be appointed but we want women to know the field, run for conventions on a fair playing field, win, become a representative and hopefully become appointed to the cabinet.”

Nyabinghi Melanie Price

And for that reason, WIP is focused on grooming future women leaders. Graduate, Nyabinghi Melanie Price is confident:

Nyabinghi Melanie Price, WIP Graduate

“I stand before you today, clear and confident, that my name will be on the next General Elections Ballot in five years. I am determined to serve as your Minister of Education and Youth. I am determined, life willing, to be your first Female Prime Minister as well.”

Guest Speaker, Linnette Vassell, of Jamaica, reminded the cohort that they must be steadfast in the political arena, where there is no level playing field for women. Vassell says that the challenges are global:

Linnette Vassell, Guest Speaker

Linnette Vassell

“I think that the graduates here and the ninety-seven total who have passed through this program, represents the potential to arrest the critical challenge facing women movements, not only in Belize but across the Caribbean. And our young ladies need to know that you are coming up in a very challenging time, where it’s a matter of one step forwards and two steps backwards when it comes to the whole matter of increasing women’s role in decision making, which is a right and a responsibility that we have.”

Women In Politics recognizes the need for more ground work:

Ann-Marie Williams

“We are thirty years old, yes, but we are still a young democracy in terms of having an educated electorate. What we did, we collaborated with the statistical institute of Belize and we had a piece in the census of the role of women. That asked a few questions: do you like to see women as head of boards, prime ministers, senators, etc, would you vote for a woman and those questions. We have that data and it is plugged into our Belize gender info that we’ll be launching soon. That is the yard-stick that we will use to measure. We’ve already seen that some areas of the country are more amenable to vote for women. So that tells us the amount of work that we at the commission along with other agencies must do. So we are prepared to do that and that will be part of the sensitization because indeed people need to be sensitize. It is not only men. We need to get to a place where we vote for the best candidate even if the person doesn’t have any money. If you need so much money to run; that’s like buying an election. Can this person really do the job? So those are some of the things we really have to look at. The electorate has to reach a certain place and indeed we have to sensitize them.”

Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.

If you are interested in joining the Women in Politics Programme, you can call the Women’s Commission at 223-4284 or check out their website: nationalwomenscommission.org

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1 Response for “Women in Politics Program graduates 16”

  1. The Real Nyabingi says:

    Nyabinghi Melanie Price, is no leader. Breaking up folks family, Dating boys. One young man allegably stabbed another. What kind of leader is this

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