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Apr 27, 2007

Skills training targets rural women

Story PictureFinancial independence is a status far easier to discuss than achieve, but for the next two months, one group of villagers will be arming themselves with skills that should bring them closer to that reality. Under the theme, “Empowering the rural poor to increase their income and employment”, this morning the Belize Rural Development program launched the latest attempt to help people help themselves.

Janelle Chanona, Reporting
Starting tomorrow, forty women from eleven villages in the Belize District will participate in an intensive skills training project. The collaborative effort of the Young Women’s Christian Association and the Government of Belize, organizers say the initiative is designed to empower attendees with the skill of sewing, cake making and decorating, food preparation and preservation, and cosmetology.

Kathleen Pate, Women Development Officer
“We really do need our women to be more self sufficient more independent and not so dependent on their spouse or somebody to bring that funding for them to help their family or to make their family situation better. They can do it on their own.”

According to Women Development Officer for the Belize District, Kathleen Pate, teaching financial independence is important because more women are assuming matriarchal roles.

Kathleen Pate
“We’ve noticed that a lot of time our women are the bread winners of the home or what we call head of the home right now and because of this domestic violence situation we are saying women need to empower themselves by becoming involved in projects or skills trained so that they can then assist themselves to make themselves better in whatever they are doing. It’s definitely something that we’ve been wanting to do for a long time and this along with the Y has made some of our programmes successful to help our women.”

Olivia Rhaburn, Chair, Scotland Halfmoon Village
“It’s just like hand to mouth and that is not a very good thing because as the younger ones are coming up, although they have academic education, there are sometimes they need to be skilled and skill training like this is very important.”

The cost of the courses, estimated at twenty-four thousand dollars, is being funded by the European Union … but in return, participants are being asked to share what they learn with other members of their communities.

Beverley Brown, V.P., Y.W.C.A. Board
“We’ll take it another step further hopefully to give them marketing skills so that they can go into business on their own because a lot of people they have the skills, even right here in Belize City, but we don’t know how to market those skills. So we are encouraging them that they work together, they co-op themselves together and push their projects ahead.”

“Well, we just hope that everybody will come out and remain in the programme and don’t drop out halfway because that’s a problem we have here in Belize; people start and then because of circumstances they don’t come back. But we’re hoping that this one will because their transportation will be taken care of and they will not have to provide the ingredients for their projects so we’re hoping that taking it this way everyone will continue, so I just want them to say come on and stay on.”

If the sixty hour training course is successful in the Belize District, administrators will explore the possibility of launching similar projects countrywide. Reporting for News Five, I am Janelle Chanona.

In the past, B.R.D.P. has also organised a sewing group in the Stann Creek district, Arts and Craft sessions in San Antonio, and taught food preparation to residents of Mango Creek.

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