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Mar 6, 2014

Empowerment rally short on numbers, but big on energy

Led by Kim Simplis Barrow, the Special Envoy for Women and Children, the planned women’s empowerment rally took place this morning in Belize City travelling from Memorial Park to the Marion Jones Stadium. It is a precursor to World’s Women’s Day celebrated on March eighth and according to Simpliss Barrow, the start of a one year calendar of activities.  All seemed to have been going well until two days ago when the Roman Catholic Church and the Seventh Day Adventists announced they were not supporting the event dubbed as twenty-thousand strong. While the numbers fell short, the energy was at an all time high among participants who included women from all walks of life. We have full coverage of the event and we start with Isani Cayetano.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

An ambitious effort to mobilize twenty thousand women from all corners of the country, to participate in a first-of-its kind empowerment rally, came to fruition in Belize City today, sans the tangible number of attendees.  The gathering began this morning with a procession from Memorial Park, the result of a mammoth undertaking to bus as many people into the Old Capital by eight o’clock.

 

Kim Simplis Barrow

Kim Simplis-Barrow, Special Envoy for Women & Children

“It’s overwhelming and I am very happy to see so many women out here today.  It’s such a surreal experience to know that all this came together with just one thought.”

 

The throng, a sea of orange t-shirts worn by women and children, for the most part, made its way from Marine Parade onto Newtown Barracks, before culminating at the Marion Jones Sporting Complex.  The outcome, despite a lack of support from some members of the religious community, has galvanized women from all walks of life.

 

Reverend Mary Martin, Supporter

“The empowerment of twenty thousand Belizean women is a step in the right direction.  It’s a step.  Women, various types of women, all types of women are welcome here; no political agenda, no religious agenda, just women who want to make a positive impact in our world.”

 

Janelle Chanona

While there may not be political or religious motivation, the idea is for women to be equally represented in all areas of Belizean society.

 

Janelle Chanona, Guest Speaker

“This event is only one catalyst for the change we want to see.  The Office of the Special Envoy for Women and Children, in collaboration with its partners, is commencing a year-long campaign which features a series of events and opportunities to build more awareness about the need to have women’s participation and leadership in every level of society.”

 

It is a sentiment shared by all in attendance.  While women have assumed leadership roles in the household, there is still a great need for participation at the highest level of decision-making, particularly where it concerns the wellbeing of the Belizean people.

 

Myrna Manzanares

Myrna Manzanares, Supporter

“As far as I am concerned, women are always women and they have that thing within themselves that they always want to shine without putting anybody down.  So when we have an opportunity like this to bring all the women together so that they could get together and realize [their strength], it’s like a chain reaction.  They realize that, “you know what, this person and that person are thinking some of the same things and I can touch you and she can touch her, all the way down the line.”  That is wonderful because it brings out what we have inside.”

 

…and what lies within, to hear Tara Hernandez tell it, is wealth untold.

 

Tara Hernandez

Tara Hernandez, Supporter

“I’m from Stann Creek Ecumenical Junior College and I think this event is great to uplift our females today and I believe that everyone could be successful in life and everything comes with just doing what is possible and I think that anything can happen with God in our lives.”

 

Interestingly, the Roman Catholic Church did not give this event its blessings.  The turnout by no means is paltry; however, hundreds more could have attended, including teachers from Corozal who were scheduled to attend the rally.

 

Sandra Reyes, Supporter

“We had a lot of teachers from the Catholic schools up to yesterday.  This morning and late yesterday evening, most of them called and said that they won’t be able to make it again but they didn’t give a reason why they wouldn’t be able to make it again.”

 

Sandra Reyes

Isani Cayetano

“Do you believe that it may have something to do with the position that the Catholic Church has taken with regards to this event?”

 

Sandra Reyes

“Well yes, I believe so but to my knowledge I believe they have it in the wrong context, you know.  To me it doesn’t have anything to do with abortion and gays and whatever things like that but they put it into that context, so…”

 

The underlying philosophy, it would seem, is that since the movement is organized, in part, by those behind the Revised Gender Policy, which itself is controversial, it is being staunchly opposed by the church.

 

Reverend Mary Martin

Mary Martin

“There are Roman Catholic women here and so a position is taken, politically, on certain issues but people still work individually in their area of consciousness.  I will not say what the church should have done, I do believe that we stand for inclusion, we stand for dignity, we stand for love.  I can say those things about the church.”

 

The resounding message of today’s show of solidarity to highlight women’s issues, despite the outcome, is not lost on the Special Envoy for Women and Children.

 

“We need to start building each other up instead of tearing each other down.  That we have come so far but we have yet a long way to go.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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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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5 Responses for “Empowerment rally short on numbers, but big on energy”

  1. 2cents says:

    So what were the numbers? 1,000 or 1500 women is definitely not 2,000 and shows the preparation made was ineffective. I hope Oak foundation gets some change back! If this was truly an event to empower women then Queen Kim and her envoy should know better to include all facets of the community and that includes the churches. She is not royalty and even they know they should not wait for leaders to call them but to reach out to them first. This was one big charade to get photo ops for their political agenda. Kudos to the churches for making a stand!

  2. al says:

    So when is the 20,000 MEN march?

  3. CEO says:

    Ah bex wid yuh husband but you did a very good thing Ms. Barrow. When women are doing well in a society children will do well and when women and children are doing well the next generation is secure.

    Dorick (the Priest) is so heavenly bound that he is no earthly good! He needs to learn to work with those he does not necessarily like or support if nothing else but for the greater good of all of Gods people and the people of Belize. We will never fully agree with anyone in society but the idea is to look for common ground and work from there.

    I am sure if he made an slight effort he could have found just cause to support the empowerment of women but instead he had to read something into what you were doing (create a problem) to have reason protest.

  4. Lord LOL says:

    so what will happen to the excess free goods that were supposed to be given away for a crowd of 20K persons?

  5. r-dale says:

    For it or against it, atleast is was nice to see the ladies out getting some excersize today.

    If we have more demonstration marches not only for the ladies but the men too we will have a much more phyically fit nation.

    Other than excersize I fail to see the point little lone the effect of the march.

    Cool tee-shirts, but they should have said “$ 271,000.00 stronge”

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