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Dec 21, 2021

A Book on Belizean Women in Politics, by Annmarie

Former News Five journalist and public policy advisor, Annmarie Williams has published a book on women in politics in Belize. The piece entitled “Political Women in Red & Blue” is simply that – a book about the women who have been a part of the two political mass parties in Belize who have served in the Cabinet. Today Williams told News Five that in a country where not nearly enough women are in the upper echelons of political  power, the work of those eleven women who have reached those levels there is extremely important to both their parties and the nation.

 

Annmarie Williams

Annmarie Williams, Author, Political Women in Red & Blue

“There are stories of eleven women, nine of who are living and the two who have passed are the bookends of the other nine stories. So the book actually begins with the story of Miss Jane Usher, the credit union icon who became a politician. She was actually the Head of the National Women’s Commission, she served as the representative for Pickstock, Member of the House. She was Parliamentary Secretary – now it’s Minister of State – but yeah, she actually did some amazing work and Belizeans would recognize her more as the iconic credit union lady. Then, Madam Liz at one other end and we all know that Madam Liz – most of us were really conscious of her contributions because back then, when she served – she actually died in 1975– and Madam Liz served Government for two terms. She was Minister of Education; Gwendolyn Lizarraga High School is named after her. She was known as the person who gave women a lot of land and secured housing for them. She was a businesswoman. The story actually reads that in the 1920s, 1930s, during the rise of the Nationalist Movement, she smoked cigarettes, she packed a pistol, and she drove a Land Rover during those times. So she was clearly ahead of her time. And her work has left a lasting legacy. Then, there’s the story of Sylvia Flores.  Sylvia Flores was a woman of many firsts. She was the first mayor of Dangriga for two terms. She was the first Area Representative for Dangriga being a woman. Dangriga has not – there’s never been an area representative who is a woman since Sylvia Flores. She was the first woman Speaker of the House. She was the fourth President of the Senate. She was the first Minister of Defence, albeit for two years. So those contributions have been recorded. She wrote the pledge to Belize that is recited among primary school students. She was very much into having young children learn to love and adore their country and their country’s heroes and heroines. We have the story of Patty Arceo, little known or appreciated because she was the youngest deputy mayor at that time at the age of twenty-two in San Pedro and Caye Caulker where she served as the Representative for Belize Rural South. She actually defeated Manuel Heredia. He was her senior and young Patty Arceo did it.   And then there’s the story of Dr. Carla Barnett, who has risen to the highest level within the Caribbean community. She had her stint as Minister of State, she was the first Financial Secretary, the first Deputy Governor of the Central Bank, and so the stories have been nothing short of amazing.”


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