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Jun 30, 2006

WIN Belize: women must have say in national budget

Story PictureBy all accounts, most Belizeans never really listen to the budget; much less understand the document when it is presented in the House of Representatives. But this time around, the Women’s Issues Network of Belize has made it a mandate to ensure that at least one sector of society is informed and empowered to actually influence in the process.

Carolyn Reynolds, Executive Director, WIN?Belize
?Some of the jargon that is being used a lot of people do not understand what it means. We don?t take any interest when it comes to the reading of the budget or we do not take any interest to understand what it is all about. We believe we need to be a part of the process, especially looking at civil society and to hold government accountable for allocations of expenditures. Especially when it comes to the budget, how it impacts people?s lives.?

Jacqueline Godwin, Reporting
WIN?s Executive Director Carolyn Reynolds believes that just as many households take the time to prepare a family budget to pay bills and manage their finances; equal concern should be given to the national budget. And more specifically, how it affects women.

Carolyn Reynolds
?When you look at the budget speech some of the promises that are made we also need to look at those. How that will affect me as an individual? How that will affect my household? How will that affect my children?s education? How that will affect us in getting help, health services? So we have to look at all those things. This is what we are trying to achieve by doing this campaign this project to see how people can understand put it down to a level that people can really understand what it is all about.?

Today the WIN project entered its second phase as officials met with representatives of fourteen non-governmental organizations to discuss topics such as ?the Belize Budget and Economy ? Who benefits? Who pays? Process of the Budget; the Impact of the Budget and Gender. The participants are scheduled to meet again on Saturday to formulate a plan of action.

Carolyn Reynolds
?We invited government representatives but unfortunately we have not been able to get them to attend. But hopefully as we go along, this will develop and we will get more people involved with it.?

?It will take a lot of commitment, and that?s what we need, and the participation. Yes, it is ambitious hopefully, and that is why we are hoping that people will join in because we do have a budget working group, but we would like to get more people involved to participate, even young people. Let them understand what it is all about, let us join together.?

The Women Issues Network has held economic literacy forums for women in Orange Walk, Punta Gorda and Belize City.

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