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Dec 10, 2012

Situation Analysis of Gender and Politics in Belize; women far behind

Also in the political arena, a report on gender and politics was released this morning by the National Women’s Commission and the scale is heavily tipped in favor of men. The report looks at the situation of women’s representation globally, in the Caribbean region and narrows it down to Belize.  It also studied the data from village, municipal and national elections and interviewed both men and women involved in the political process in the past fourteen years. After a year of analysis, the report concludes that Belizean women are way at the bottom in politics. News Five’s Delahnie Bain reports.

 

Delahnie Bain, Reporting

Toward Equality of Opportunity for Equality of Results; a Situation Analysis of Gender and Politics in Belize provides a comprehensive look at the participation and representation of women in electoral politics. The last such study, according to the Executive Director of the National Women’s Commission, Ann-Marie Williams, was in 1998.

 

Ann-Marie Williams

Ann-Marie Williams, Executive Director, National Women’s Commission

“It’s one of the many activities that is put out under this Strengthening Women in Democracy project. It happened to be an important piece of work. It was timed to look at the situation of gender and politics in Belize because the commission did a first work and since 1998, there’s been no new body of work. So it was timely. The other thing, as we all know, we need to raise women’s political representation and so it’s an opportunity to look at the situation on the ground, what exactly is happening.”

 

But despite ongoing programs to train potential female candidates, the publication, launched today, paints a dismal picture.

 

Debra Lewis, Consultant, Situation Analysis

“Only three point one percent of our elected members of the legislature in this round are women. That’s one out of thirty-one. At Belize City Council, we’ve actually gone backwards over the last ten years or so. In 2003, we kind of hit a pinnacle when just over half of the members of the City Council were women; six out of eleven. Since that time, the numbers have decreased in every election since to the point now that we have only one out of the eleven members being female. So in that case it’s really been a case of one step forward two steps back.”

 

Debra Lewis

In 2003 there was a spike in the number of women who took part in the town board and village council elections, but those numbers are also declining  as Consultant, Debra Lewis explains.

 

Debra Lewis

“When we look at town boards, we find that less than twenty percent of the members of town boards are women and in this case too, the numbers have actually declined over the last few elections. We were actually up over twenty percent for a few years and in this year’s election we actually dipped below that level for the first time in about ten years. When we look at village councils, we find that about one and a half out of seven village council members on average are women. And this varies quite a bit by district but when you look at the national picture, I think it’s one point six two out of seven. More than a quarter of village councils in Belize have no women at all.”

 

While it’s not good news, the information and recommendations in the situation analysis will be used to create strategies for improved statistics.

 

Debra Lewis

“Making change is going to require these kinds of things; developing women as a political block, temporary special measures or quotas, addressing the role of political parties as gate keepers to our political process, empowering women to run and changing the culture of political institutions.”

 

Ann-Marie Williams

“It’s time now for people to look seriously at the recommendations—political parties, government and civil society—to see what is it that we will put in place to do this. I am happy that the minister of education, the Honorable Patrick Faber, who served as a member of the advisory committee for this project, when we had a presentation he actually said at the presentation—and I’m not telling tales out of school—that he would like to sit down with the somebody from the People’s United Party to look at what both parties can do to help to fast track women’s political leadership and that is encouraging.”

 

But there is plenty of work to be done, since Belize has only one female elected representative and millennium development goal number three requires that women hold thirty percent of seats in the National Assembly. Guyana is the only country in the region that has achieved that goal following the implementation of a quota system in the constitutional reform of 2000.

 

Deborah Backer

Deborah Backer, Deputy Speaker, National Assembly of Guyana

“Women should be involved and participate in the corridors of power so that when agendas are being set, when policies are being thought of, we are there to make our voices heard. So it is important that we take part. And secondly, we must go into politics to be the agents of change. Debra spoke about the old boys club, the disconnect with the population—we cannot want ten more women in Belize at least to get into politics by 2017, if they are going to go and continue with business as usual. We must be the agents of change.”

 

Debra Lewis

“When you look at the Latin American/Caribbean region as a whole, we find that it’s just over the global average at about twenty-one/twenty-two percent but when we look at the average for the English Speaking Caribbean, we do much worse and the average for the English Speaking Caribbean is less than fifteen percent. So there’s quite a difference there. And of course, Belize sits at the bottom of the list, even within the Caribbean at three point one percent.”

 

The report took almost a year to complete since it includes the data from this year’s general and municipal elections. Delahnie Bain for News Five.

 

The project was funded by the United Nations Development Programme.

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4 Responses for “Situation Analysis of Gender and Politics in Belize; women far behind”

  1. Storm says:

    Gender equality is certainly a big issue here — but arbitrarily “requiring” 30% of the Assembly be held by women is foolish. That will be the end of the process of improving gender equality, not the beginning of it.

    The real beginning will be education, when there are as many women getting higher education as men, and then they will be able to establish themselves as leaders deserving of votes. I think that day is coming, but equality in education needs to precede equality in holding office.

    Anyway, quality of officeholders is really more important than numbers. Without quality, even an all-woman Assembly would do no better than an all-male Assembly, and lately that has been quite pathetic, maybe disastrous.

  2. Al says:

    Bravo, women need to rise up and take their place, the men have put the country so far behind. Let use the female instinct to bring positive change to the land. Take the female cause beyond the meeting stage, begin to take a place in politics even if you have to start your own party, stand up and be counted, let your voices be heard.

  3. raul guevara says:

    I believe that for our society to progress women should be empowered, when you analyze the statistics of UB you see that more than 50% of the population are females. Not just UB, but all the students studying abroad. I just think that women should become more active in politics.It is not good to have Saudi Arabia as company.

  4. Retired CEO says:

    It is very interesting how they try to put down the Saudis, I wonder how many of these bloggers have ever travelled to Saudi Arabia. When in the Jewel women are abused and disrespected more than many other countries. In reality no such thing exsist as gender equality. Men and Women are not equal, Women are spiritually stronger than some Men and some men are physically stronger than some women. The reality is that there should be equity between the genders, but they are not equal. This whole idea about equality is to divide and conquer the human being. Men competing with Women and Women competing with Men. There exsist a need to bring Men and Women together in unity to compliment each other. In order that we may have strong families, not a division by gender. The strong and intellectual woman has a role to play and the strong intelectual man has a role to play. However, they are a unit, a family unit and unless we bring this unit together in unity there will be no peace, harmony and love, muchless family life. Today, we are witnessing the disintergation and decay of the family, which leads to the destruction of the indiviual and hence the society. Believe it or not, accept it or reject it, this is one of the many reasons causing some of the problems we are experiencing in the civil society in every part of the globe. There is a need for a new orientation/education in every part of the globe, the empowerment of women is not the answer, the empowerment of the family is more significant and neccesary. This is a never ending subject we could go on and on and on writing and talking. The bottom line is there appear to be a global movement to divide the people of the World. In short it appears to be a satanic scheme to divide rule and confuse the World’s population, thus causing chaos, wreaking havoc on families and society.

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