Every year, the global community commemorates March 8th as International Women’s Day in celebration of the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. While the month observes the achievement of women, Belize also takes the opportunity to reflect on the progress made in gender equality. “Empowering Women in a Changing World: Planet 50:50 by 2030” sets the theme for this year, and it focuses on the impact technology and globalization has and can have on the status of women.
In addition, the Government of Belize (GOB) has made some progress towards promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women. The Ministry of Human Development, Social Transformation and Poverty Alleviation continues to fight the embedded inequalities that hinder the achievement of equality and equity for women in Belize. The Ministry continues to partner in advancing sensitization of gender based violence in schools through its safe school program; creating support mechanisms and resources for survivors of gender-based violence. Social safety nets for vulnerable women and children have been expanded; partnerships for the elimination of gender based discrimination at all levels of society have been cultivated; child protection; and family support programs have also strengthened.
Kim Simplis Barrow, Special Envoy for Women and Children, states that Women’s Month gives the country great reasons to reflect on advances in women’s rights. “Empowering women in a changing world demands much more innovation and initiative. The challenge is to ensure that women and girls are poised to capitalize on the opportunities presented by the changes in today’s world. Hence the call for the empowerment of women to ensure that they are able to not only advocate for themselves, but can be advocates for those around them…As we celebrate this month, let us consider how we break down barriers and build bridges that support greater education, better health, and career advancement, representation in political and economic decision-making processes and stronger communities for our women. Most importantly, let us consider how we not only empower women and girls, but also engage men and boys, to collectively work together in accelerating gender equality and equity by 2030,” said Simplis-Barrow.
In observance of Women’s Month 2017, the Women’s Department has chosen to honor 17 women across each district for their outstanding contribution to their communities. The awardees are: Neima Naomi Roches, Marie Sharp, Francisca Assi, Sandra Coye, Lydia Esther Vallejo, Aeisha Pollard Robinson, Tracy Taegar Panton, Mindy Pratt, Abigail McKay, Fabiana Scotts Rowley, Dominique Noralez, Olivia Torres Pat, Doña Ernestina Moh, Odali Elmita Mai, Saraley Magana, Leticia Velasquez, and Gloria Louise Gabourel.
As the GOB continues to renew their commitment to the advancement of women, these women are positive role models that clearly demonstrate the change they wanted to see in Belize. These 17 women will be honored at the 12th Annual Outstanding Women’s Awards Ceremony on March 29th
at the Best Western Belize Biltmore Plaza Hotel. Congratulations to our 2017 Awardees!