Throughout this month activities are taking place to celebrate women and their achievements. The sixth Women’s Summit was held today, but it was not only about women and women’s rights, it also dealt with gender equality. The organizers of the summit also heard the views and ideas of participants on how to empower the female gender. News Five’s Delahnie Bain reports.
Delahnie Bain, Reporting
The sixth annual Women’s Summit was held at the Radisson today and despite its name, it was an event for both genders. It is one of the main activities on the Women’s Month calendar and is an avenue for organizations and the general public to discuss issues of gender equality and share ideas on how to move forward.
Icilda Humes, Director, Women’s Department
“The main objective of the Women’s summit is to provide women from urban and rural communities within the country with information about issues surrounding the theme for women’s month and getting ideas from them for possible programs and activities that would promote women’s empowerment. For us at the Women’s Department, Women’s Summit doesn’t end after today. That’s because we take the comments and views that come out of the discussions, assess them for practicality and look at ways to incorporate them into our programs and activities.”
Throughout the day, a total of nine panelists made presentations surrounding this year’s theme: Valuing Ourselves, Promoting Shares Responsibility. Those presenters included, Monique Nardi Roquette, who spoke on the meaning of gender equality and Giovanni Brackett, who gave the male perspective.
Monique Nardi Roquette
Monique Nardi Roquette, Presenter, 6th Annual Women’s Summit
“The objective of the presentation is to stimulate some thought of what gender equality means, in particular in the context of Belize, but also worldwide. In the opening remarks the director of the Women’s Department said that sometimes women can be our own worst enemies and I think that’s our first obstacle. We have to understand that we have to all work together to achieve the same objective. So if we start to understand what it really means and how really it would be valuing ourselves that we can reach tot that objective, then we can actually work together with men.”
Giovanni Brackett, Presenter, 6th Annual Women’s Summit
“Women and men have value of the highest worth in that they reflect the image of God and starting on that premise, women should value themselves, men ought to as well. Shared responsibilities; I think as you look at the role that women ought to play or males, I think sometimes the energy is focused in the wrong direction where it’s a competition, a battle between men and women.”
“This year’s theme for women’s month is more than just about promoting shared responsibility, it’s also about valuing ourselves as women. How do we do that? What does that even mean? Does spirituality even play a part in our personal value system? And how do we as women care for others without neglecting to care for ourselves?”
The United Nations Development Program was also represented and Ismirla Andrade outlined the successes in protecting women’s rights as well some of the shortfalls.
Ismirla Andrade, Prog. Associate/Gender Mainstreaming Officer, UNDP
“We certainly can be proud of the milestones made in the last century both worldwide and in this region with respect to women’s right particularly in the legal sphere where laws and policies have been adopted to protect and promote women’s rights. Women’s voices are heard more than before, even if it’s because they are louder. Much is still left to be done particularly where there are unacceptable rates of maternal mortality, when boys are still given priority over girls to attend school and when violence is still a reality in many households.”
And on the issue of shared responsibility, Icilda Humes, the Director of the Women’s Department, referred to a cooking course that was carried out for men, who wanted to help out in their homes. Humes says the program was a success and the participants were content, but the public reaction was disappointing.
“The department was bashed on national radio for daring to offer such a program for men. I think some people completely missed the point on that one. So to clarify, no our intention was not and is not to emasculate men and no we won’t be trying to put them into dresses anytime soon, despite what some people may think and no, we’re not trying to take over the world and run men out, we’re just trying to claim our space beside them and if needs be, in front of them.”
Delahnie Bain for News Five.