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Mar 18, 2009

Ending gender-based violence discussed at 4th Women’s Summit

Story PictureA ninety-eight thousand U.S. dollar multi-sectoral plan was launched to end gender-based violence at this morning’s opening of the fourth Annual Women’s Summit. Belize is one of the six countries in the region to now implement the project on a national level. Regional executors of the venture are the United Nations Development Fund for Women and the Association of Caribbean Commissioners of Police while on the local front, the task lies with the Women’s Department in the Ministry of Human Development and Social Transformation. News Five’s Delahnie Bain was on hand at the Radisson for the opening ceremony.

Delahnie Bain, Reporting
The Women’s Summit features the implementation of a plan of action against gender-based violence, which aims to reduce violence against women, strengthen accountability and promote social and cultural change. And while the speakers noted the importance of involving men, the summit is reflecting on the rise of women in society.

Ann-Marie Williams, Executive Director, National Women’s Commission
“The Women’s Summit is usually a time when women from all over the country come together to reflect on how far women have come, what are some of the marks we’ve made, are making and hope to make. We usually do that with different seminars throughout the day. The seminars we have throughout the day usually reflect the theme. This year it’s “Creating Opportunities for Women through Economic Empowerment.”

The project “Strengthening State Accountability and Community Action for Ending Gender-Based Violence in the Caribbean” has four objectives and is being implemented from a multi-sectoral approach.

Icilda Humes, Director, Women’s Department
“Objective one is to develop plans that will be used by various sectors, including those that deal with the prosecution of cases involving sexual offenses, those who should enforce the law and those who provide social support and health services to victims of such offences. The purpose of this multi-sectoral plan will be to ensure the protection, prevention and punishment of sexual violence and other forms of violence against women, men and children.”

Insp. Diana Hall, O.C., Police Prosecution Branch
“Objective two; build competences of the justice and security sectors and the non-governmental sector to respond effectively to gender-based violence. This objective focuses on three areas; substantive, administration and cultural. Representatives from the Association of Caribbean Commissioners of Police (A.C.C.P.) will visit Belize and look at what exists and what doesn’t and see what measures need to be taken in regards to the police and court, the laws and policies and responses to violence against women.”

Cynthia Pitts, Ombudsman
“Objective number three; monitoring for accountability and ending impunity. And the aim is to build a monitoring framework to ensure state accountability through civil society state partnerships. Now the reason for this project is because we recognize and accept that the state has to strengthen its efforts to hold the perpetrators accountable for sexual and gender based violence and the state needs to strengthen its efforts also to act swiftly in the protection of victims and punishment of offenders.”

Ann-Marie Williams
“Objective number four; promotion of the gender-sensitive, youth-focused social communications strategy on gender-based violence. UNIFEM is looking at a program that they will pioneer in Haiti that they’re trying to look at male dominated organizations such as trade-unions, political parties, civil societies, private sectors, to build a cadre of men who will speak out against domestic violence and actually advocate for a more peaceful society. The work will definitely involve media campaigns to target men and to train them well. What will we do here in Belize? We can do pretty much the same, I reckon. We need to begin with training and finding a network of men.”

After the launch, the women engaged in panel discussions on topics involving economic development, training and employment opportunities and businesses for women. Delahnie Bain reporting for News Five.

A Project Advisory Committee has been established with representatives from the judiciary, Women’s organizations, Police Department and the Ombudsman’s Office.


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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