There are only a few days left in March, which is being celebrated as Women’s Month. But there are still several activities coming up, including a Maya Women’s Expo in Belize City. Since 2012 is the year of the Mayas, the Women’s Department is putting the culture in the spotlight with the two day event, starting on Wednesday. The department reached out to several women’s groups in the two southern districts to showcase and sell their crafts, which are becoming increasingly popular as well as seasonings and cacao products. Cynthia Williams of the Women’s Department is extending an invitation to the general public to come out between nine a.m. to three p.m. on Wednesday or nine a.m. to four p.m. on Thursday. Williams also told News Five about another expo coming up this weekend.
Cynthia Williams, Human Development Coordinator, Women’s Department
“The Women’s Department would like to invite the general public to participate in the Maya Women’s Expo that will be held on March twenty-eighth and March twenty-ninth as part of Women’s Month activities. On March twenty-eighth it will be held at the Caye Caulker Water Taxi parking lot at the corner of North Front Street and Queen Street. This is an opportunity that we are very happy to provide to various Women’s Groups from the Stann Creek and Toledo Districts to bring their Maya products to sell. So it’s an economic empowerment opportunity for the women. All proceeds of all the sales done throughout the two days will go back to the women’s groups. And so we will be having Maya pepper, yellow ginger, casham, local coffee and hybrid coffee on sale as well as Maya blouses, jewelry and other handicrafts that the women’s groups produce. So we’re very happy and we hope that all the public comes in, bring in your children to get to know the Mayas and understand how these different products are produced. As I mentioned, we’ll have representation from some of the women’s groups who can show how they make the coffee, the casham and the difficulty of actually stitching the different Maya blouses that they have to make. So it’s an opportunity for people to come and purchase and contribute to the livelihood of these Maya women’s groups.”
“Now, women’s month is winding down; any other activities coming up after the Maya Womens expo?”
“Saturday, which is closing Women’s Month, we have three different activities in three different places. We’ll be having our Supporting Single Mothers Expo here in Belize City at the Bliss Parking Lot where we will be having manicures and pedicures for ten dollars each and of course, acrylics for twenty-five dollars. We’ll be also selling our first line of gourmet vinegars. We continue promoting the work of the Women’s Group in Stann Creek who produce these vinegars and so we’ll be selling the vinegars; a bit of sampling as well for them to be able to taste how the vinegar makes the difference in the food. So we’ll be having a bit of our salsa that we make at this event. We’ll also be having another supporting single mother’s expo in Hattieville.”
The third event on Saturday is a women’s tennis tournament in Belmopan. Also on Thursday night, the department is hosting its annual Outstanding Women’s Awards at the Bliss, starting at seven p.m.
The Maya Women’s Expo was held today at the corner of Queen and North Front Streets. On display were food items as well as arts and crafts. Cynthia Williams is the Human Development Coordinator at the Women’s Department.
The expo continues on Thursday at the NICH parking lot on Regent Street.
In posh, high end stores like Barney's in New York, a product called Maya Bags fetches premium prices, comparable to upscale designer products.
Those bags are made entirely in Belize by Mayan women from villages such as Columbia, Dolores, Otoxha (Oto-sha), Indian Creek and other communities.
Well, work from native women is also being celebrated in Belize by the Women's Department, as part of women's month activities.
They are having a two day Expo featuring locally grown spices along with a variety of baskets, carvings, clothing and accessories.
Cynthia Williams from the Women's department who told us what is being sold and why Belizeans buy it.
Cyntha Williams - Coordinator, Women's Department "Today, we are having a Maya's Women Expo as part of Women's Month activities. We wanted to really contribute also to a year of the Mayans, which is being observed by the Ministry of Tourism. So we invited several women's group with whom we work with throughout the year, to bring their products that they produce to sell it within Belize City. We have groups from Toledo and Stann Creek district, and we have a variety of products that they produce including Maya pepper, yellow ginger, anato, kasham and also products that do for example Maya blouses, jewelry that they make, slave cravings, and also baskets make out to the jippy jappa material."
Robin Schaffer "Have you been getting much activity today?"
Cyntha Williams "Yes, we are very happy with our outcome. We have had a lot of Belizeans which is very good for us, to see that our Belizean people are receptive and are contributing to the empowerment of these women groups. So, we had a lot of Belizeans coming in to purchase Maya pepper. The amount that we brought in today actually finished, but we will bring in more for tomorrow. We really are encouraging the general public to come out and support these groups. A lot of times, we feel like some of these items may be sold at a high price, but when you really look at the time and the skills required to produce these items, it is a lot. It is a labor of love."
The expo will continue tomorrow at the NICH parking lot on Regent Street, and will be open from 9:00 to 4:00.
The Women’s Department, as a part of the calendar of activities for Women’s Month, is hosting a two-day Maya Women’s Expo to increase exposure and generate income for the indigenous women of southern Belize. The initiative was made possible through an ongoing relationship between the department and the women’s groups and it also coincides with the Maya themed events being held throughout 2012. An array of products were on display and available for sale at the Caye Caulker Water Taxi parking lot today. News Five’s Andrea Polanco stopped in at the expo and filed this report.
Andrea Polanco, Reporting
Today Ground Zero, also known as the Caye Caulker Water taxi parking lot, was turned into a mini Maya expo. Women from the two southern districts arrived in the city to showcase their craft.
Cynthia Williams, Women’s Department
“We really worked to bring several women’s group from Toledo and also Stann Creek. We only have some of the representatives here as we couldn’t bring all the women’s group. We have a couple of them to explain to us how they make their products. We wanted to ensure that they are here to speak to people if they come in to ask questions. We wanted them here to talk about what is going in in terms of their culture.”
The artisans had a variety of products on display from condiments to arts and craft which were all on sale:
“We will have Mayan pepper on sale, hybrid coffee, local coffee, casham, Mayan blouses, jewelry, slate carving, so we have quite a number of products that people can come in and purchase for themselves or for family members as gifts. As you know today is also tourist day and we want to ensure that we provide these women with income generating opportunities, so hundred percent of whatever is sold today goes back directly to the different various groups participating in our expo.”
Cynthia Williams says that the Women’s Department has been working with the different women’s groups, to perfect their skill while increasing thier exposure to new markets:
“We work with these women’s groups; we work with a total of roughly twenty two groups through-out the country, in the north, south and west as well. What we normally do is that through-out the year we have sessions with them and so it’s an ongoing relationship; so they were very open in bringing their products to Belize City. We are very happy to provide this opportunity for them, for them to showcase all the products that they have and the amount of time and process that it takes; it’s quite tedious and so we want to encourage Belizeans to come out, to promote and support this activity and at the same time contribute to the well being of the different women’s groups that are participating today.”
Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.
Day two of the Maya Women’s Expo takes place on Thursday at the NICH Parking Lot.