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Sep 11, 2020

Women, Peace and Security Agenda Launched

A virtual launch took place this morning of the Women, Peace and Security Agenda of the Ministry of National Security.  The agenda seeks to promote gender equality, women empowerment and rights in the police, B.D.F. and Coastguard. The Minister of National Security says that a key component is to grow participation and leadership of women within the security forces. It places women as equal partners in reaching national security goals.   Here is Hipolito Novelo with a report.


Hipolito Novelo reporting

The security forces in Belize are male dominated. They are  forces established in patriarchy. But that has been changing and is about to change a greater deal. Today the Women Peace and Security Agenda was launched and it is aimed at promoting equality, women empowerment and women rights within the forces.


Minister of National Security Michael Peyrefitte says that gender equality is a prerequisite for peace, security justice and sustainable development.


Michael Peyrefitte, Minister of National Security

Michael Peyrefitte

“Through this initiative we aim to promote, gender equality, women empowerment and women rights in our internal actions as these are the core of our values. Investing in women  empowerment is not only a question of fairness as economic gains from empowering women are substantial. Gender quality is a prerequisite for peace, security justice and sustainable development all of which positively influence our global, regional and national economics. Belize will therefore actively promote gender mainstreaming as a key strategy together with gender balance and specific actions to achieve gender equality and women’s empowerment in all areas of national security by showing the integration of a gender respective throughout all policy framework. Out”


And that framework consists of three pillars.


Michael Peyrefitte

“Firstly we have put emphasis on our efforts to increase women participation and leadership within the security forces. It is important to ensure that women can equally and equitably participate in all faucets of the security sector.  We have prioritized actions against sexual and gender based in the security forces. We also stress the importance of training personnel on preventing and eliminating sexual exploitation discrimination and abuse in the ranks. Thirdly we have prioritized our work to promote proactive policies for women’s empowerment within the security forces which will also create sizeable returns for our economy and society.”


Lt. Col. Brandon Garcia, Belize Defence Force

Lt. Col. Brandon Garcia

“From their stance and area of influence they have shown that when one woman’s voice is heard, when she participates in decision making and when she exercises leadership, she most likely, brings something unique, special and of high value of quality to team decision. Realization of better equality of women’s empowerment contributes to the achievement of the sustainable development goals and the entire 2030 agenda of per sustainable development.  The Women Peace and Security Agenda for Belize security voices, has a very clear vision. The vision embodies the empowerment of women as equality partners in the development and stable Belize especially in achieving our national security goals.”


The goals are progressive. The first goal is to increase participation of women. The first pillar has three objectives.


Lt. Commander Alma Pinelo

Lt. Commander Alma Pinelo, Belize Coast Guard

“Elimination of bias is important for everyone to be able to get a opportunity and to be able to go to treating and for the active participating of all women on all patrols. This was very different in the past where women would only got for certain patrols or because of infrastructural development or just because they were not used to going but making sure that the active participation of women on all patrols is  a key part of this in line with the 1325 Agenda for the UNCHR where women should be in combat roles. When it comes our laws and policies we need to ensures that we are eliminating significant obstacles i.e. improper   traditions and practices in that apparent or obscure bias and unconscious bias that we tend to have. Protective policies, we have begun our harassment policies and any policy that does not exist the agenda makes that provisions for policies to be written and for policies to be revised. A lot of our polices currently have very wordings, it takes a lot of men, he’s and making sure that the policies are written in a gender neutral background. Infrastructural development to ensure that all bases are equipped to house both genders so there should be no excise that women cannot go to some of the OBs.”


Currently, the average percentage of women in the security force compared to the women population in the country averages seven to twenty percent. The second pillar focuses on justice and equity including zero tolerance, diversity and inclusion, and gender mainstreaming.


Major Lionel Olivera, Belize Defence Force

Major Lionel Olivera

“One of the core focus pertaining to gender mainstreaming, we have determined with all the policies that have been in place, gender based violence, domestic violence act, among other acts, we realize that if it is that policies are not developed to ensure that equity is seen and also done. This policy gives us the direction that we ensure that the security forces actually implements them.”


But for all of these policies and frameworks and initiatives to actually be effective and for change to occur, there must be acceptance of is in place now. The third pillar focuses on Perspective Change.


Staff Officer Rhea Rogers

Staff Officer Rhea Rogers, Ministry of National Security

“What we have had was a patriarchal security enterprise that values certain constructs of masculinity, that had linkage of the definition of manliness to violence and oppression, the domination and hierarchies of values that elevate some masculinities over other and over all notions of femininities. This perspective leads towards a normalizing and legitimizing of harassment, violent and assault, which is not the direction we want our security forces to go.”


Reporting for News Five I am Hipolito Novelo


Also speaking at the event was C.E.O. Judith Alpuche of the Ministry of Human Development.


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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