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Mar 31, 2023

A look On The Bright Side with Pioneering Belizean Women

History is as recent as yesterday and the future is a second away. In looking to the future, it’s important to recognize how far we’ve come. As we celebrate International Women’s Month, Sabreena Daly found this week’s look on the bright side through women that have used their voices to bring about change for other women. What she found was that history was indeed not so long ago.


Sabreena Daly, Reporting

This is Seidi Quetzal lobbying for the rights of women to have access to tax-free sanitary products. A survey conducted by Quetzal earlier this year indicates that a large population of women is menstruating.  This group would stand to benefit from what is considered a basic necessity.

Seidi Quetzal

Seidi Quetzal, Don’t Tax My Femininity

My campaign started in January with a simple survey. I really wanted to know if what I was going through, other women were going through and it was amazing to hear the stories that they were like, yes miss, we talk about it, but nobody does something in regards to it.”


“Don’t tax My Femininity” was the name of the cause that sought to achieve a thirty-five percent tax reduction on sanitary products. Seidi’s campaign also expanded to reach youths, girls and boys included, to educate and sensitize them on the topic of menstruation.

Sabreena Daly

“So we’re looking at this, for instance. The price of this here, about at least two dollars is coming off to five dollars and change.”


Seidi Quetzal

“Remember it’s 35.5 less percent of tax. No GST, which is 12.5, 3% environmental tax and 20% importation tax. There will be a change. And for example, we look at this one, right? It brings 18 samples. It’s at $18.45. You’re paying a dollar for one, basically.”


This one-woman movement was achieved a few weeks ago, but in 2002, a young attorney, a pioneer in her own right, took a stand against the discrimination of women as it relates to their attire in the courtroom. Twenty-one years ago, Attorney General Magali Marin-Young fought for her right to wear pants before the bench.

Magali Marin Young

Magali Marin Young, Attorney General of Belize (File: Dec. 16th, 2022)

And discriminatory is defined in the Constitution as imposing restrictions on one class of people and not, um, one class of persons and not imposing the same restrictions on another class. And, um, I strongly believe that I am being, restricted from wearing, um, trousers because I’m a female and I do believe that I have a case to answer before the court. In 2002, women were already wearing pant suits in the business world and the professional world. And attorneys, there were a couple, uh, female attorneys who were wearing, um, slacks, pantsuits in the court. Upon the arrival of Dr. Conte, however, he insisted that female attorneys wear skirts. And I attended chambers. I was in, uh, black pinstripe, conservative suit. When I arrived at the then Chief Justices chambers, he told me I will not entertain you. And I said, um, honorable Chief Justice, may I know why? And he said, you are not properly attired. I said, why do you think so. He said, in law school, you learn to wear a skirt, female attorneys are to wear skirts.”


Marin would then file a constitutional motion on the grounds that her plight in the courtroom was discriminatory and unconstitutional. In doing so, a change was made to benefit all future female attorneys. The Chief Justice redrafted the dress code to allow for women to wear pants. The common theme among both of these women is recognizing an injustice for a woman and taking a step to create change. The same can be said for Dolores Balderamos-Garcia. While her fight for common-law and matrimonial rights benefited both the sexes, in the early 2000’s, it was a big win for women.

Dolores Balderamos Garcia

Dolores Balderamos Garcia, Minister of Human Development
As a young attorney, I did travel the country, of course, under the banner of a political party, but mainly for the advancement of women so that we could understand our rights and fight for them.”


In the 90’s, common-law rights were unrecognized. This meant that if a woman had supported her partner for five plus years and subsequently part ways, properties that were built during that period would be claimed by the individual whose name it was under. In those times, the primary owners were men. This, in turn, would see women go from housewives to homeless in the wake of a separation.

Dolores Balderamos Garcia

Dolores Balderamos Garcia
Our Belizean women, many times did not know the rights that when you, when you live with somebody, you help them to build up their business, you build a family together, you build a home or a business or whatever it is together, you don’t wanna walk out of that tomorrow and be on the street because the relationship breaks up and it’s usually property in the man’s name. Now, matrimonial property may not be important if your marriage is going fine, everything going swimmingly, but it becomes important on a breakup and we don’t want that lady to be on the street, or it could be a man as well. It’s gender neutral. But of course, we know that in fighting for these, um, legal. Positions we are advancing the cause of equality and the advancement of women so that women are not disadvantaged.”


In 2001, the Court of Appeal ruled that upon a matrimonial or common-law separation, the court would consider the contributions of partners that did not generate an income in the household.


Dolores Balderamos Garcia

What it is, is that you recognize the contribution and the work of women in a relationship, in a marriage relationship or union, whether that person worked outside the home or not, because before that law, on a divorce, for example, the woman would have to have proved to the court that she contributed money or money’s worth to the acquisition of property in order to gain from that on the separation or divorce. So if she was a housewife, couldn’t get anything, and the house was in the man’s name. She has no say, no rights, even though she may have raised five children.”


These are only three examples of how our society has shifted to recognize the rights of a woman. In 2023, we are still celebrating titles bestowed upon women for being the first in their respective roles in leadership. But the steps that got us here will lead us to the outcome we deserve, whether it is a fight for attire, a basic need, or equality in marriage. While the end of March culminates a celebration of the many steps taken, the actions thereafter will determine the desired results. Looking on the Bright Side, I’m Sabreena Daly.

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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