Belize Women's Department launches campaign against gender based violence
As is customary in the month of November; the Belize Women's Department launches its annual, 16 days of activism against gender based violence. The 16 Days of Activism is an international campaign originating from the first Women's Global Leadership Institute held in 1991. The dates, November 25th, International Day against Violence against Women and December 10th, International Human Rights Day, were chosen in order to symbolically link violence against women and human rights and to emphasize that such violence are a violation of human rights. The 16-day period also highlights other significant dates including December 1st which is World AIDS Day. Melissa Jenkins is the Women's Development Officer for the Cayo District.
Melissa Jenkins, Women's Development Officer, Cayo District The sixteen days of activism against gender based violence campaign is an international campaign. It starts off on November 5th, which is the international day to eliminate violence against women, December 1st, which is World Aids Day and December 10th, which is Human Rights Day. So from November 25th to December 10th is sixteen days and organizations and agencies in the districts come together and plan and execute activities that give awareness on the international day to eliminate all forms of violence.
According to the Women's Department, since 1991, tens of thousands of activists from every region of the world have taken part in the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence Campaign. In the upcoming 16 days, a number of activities are scheduled to take place throughout Belize.
Melissa Jenkins To start off the campaign in Cayo we are having a Ribbon Day which organizations in the Cayo District get together and we go out in the San Ignacio Town and we pin purple ribbons for Domestic Violence. We are having a candle light vigil in the evening starting at the Macal River Park in San Ignacio and that's at 6:30. We are also having in Belmopan, a Sexual Violence Information Day and this is December 5th at the George Price Center from 5:30 - 7:30 and it's open to the public. Anyone can attend on December 3rd and we are having a self defense session at the Belmopan Convention Hotel at 8:00 - 12:00.
A schedule detailing district events countrywide will be printed in the local newspapers. 16 days of activism opens this Friday November 25th and will run until December 10th under the theme, "ACT NOW! END GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE."
The Belize Women's Department launched its annual, 16 days of activism against gender based violence on the 25th of November. The 16-day period highlights other significant dates including December 1st today; which is World AIDS Day. Our Dangriga correspondent James Valerio Reports.
James Valerio, PlusTV Journalist
They are commemorating the sixteen days of activism here in Dangriga and this activity starts on November 25th all the way to December 10th. Today in Dangriga, we have the annual youth rally against gender based violence and HIV. The woman in charge of the Women's Development Department will give you more details about today's event.
Representative, Women's Department Okay, today is Worlds AIDS Day and today the Women's Department along with its partners has organized a youth rally and we had representation from all of the primary schools and the high schools in Dangriga. The young people from the upper division were presenting on how they feel about gender based violence and HIV in their own words and in their own thoughts. Many wrote poems, some did dramas and others sung songs and depicted the issue of stigma and discrimination and the issue of infection as it relates to HIV. They also spoke about the issue of gender based violence and how it affects the community. We had a good turn out and the Women's Department organizes this activity each year and we are very thankful to all the schools and I think the young people get to realize that HIV and gender-based violence is something that we can all come together and stop.
As you should know, these activities start from November 25th all the way to December 10th and once again the annual rally which takes place every year is to stand against gender-based violence and HIV. James Valerio, Stann Creek District, PlusTV correspondent.
Meanwhile in Belize City, the Belize's AIDS commission held a function. According to a recent report from UNAIDS, the epidemic has leveled off, with 2.7 million people becoming newly infected every year, and almost seven million people in treatment that helps them live longer, healthier lives. The picture was very different 20 years ago, when the rate of new infections was steadily rising and many affected individuals went without treatment. We spoke with Dr. Martin Cuellar executive director for the National AIDS Commission to explain Belize's situation.
Dr. Martin Cuellar, Executive Director, National AIDS Commission We're very happy to report this year that we have had some continued process which started over three years ago. We continue to see a decrease in the number of new infections and this tells us that the combined initiatives that we have been implementing with all of our partners in prevention are starting to take hold and starting to create a positive effect. We are asking Belizeans to look into their own lives and access the level of risk in their sexual behavior and develop what we call a personal protection plan. If each individual starts doing that and then they seek motivation to stick to those plans, within their smaller circles or within families or friends, we will see the net effect repelling across our society, communities and then around the country. It is this kind of combined personal initiative that will allow us to keep the new infections going down and allow us to truly take full control.
World AIDS Day this year is about "Getting to Zero." Zero New HIV Infections; Zero Discrimination and Zero AIDS Related Deaths. The "Getting to Zero" campaign runs until 2015 and builds on last year's successful World AIDS Day "Light for Rights" initiative. World AIDS day is celebrated annually on December 1st.