Women from around the country gathered for the Eighth Annual Women’s Summit hosted by the Women’s Department. According to Acting Director of the Women’s Department, Cynthia Williams, the one day event aims to engage women in discussion and information gathering on Gender, centering on this year’s women’s month theme The Gender Agenda, Gaining Momentum.
” Gender is often seen as a woman business everything about women but whenever we truly analyses and define what it is we can clearly see that it is both men and women because gender really affects them in different ways it has nothing to do with their sex, being a man or woman but is actually looking at who they are and how is it that they interact and the impact that issues across the society has on them; the way they may relate to each other, to their children and so this summit is really looking for that opportunity to be able to define it. We started back on the sixth annual summit where we began the discussion. During that time that really provide us with the opportunity to begin a deeper programmatic effort. Also the department and so now we feel it is important to bring it back to the table and engage persons who have gone beyond that gender divide and even gone into fields that have traditionally males of females oriented and so we will have another panel that will be looking at that experience of both men and women who are in that role. And of course looking at impact of gender on the development . We really have to understand that for woman and men to be full participants in our countries development we have to ensure that system and structures are put in place so that they can contribute what they need to and so we need to ensure that we don’t box women in and men in stereotypes because then what we are doing is simply not allowing them to freely give of what they have, to give us partners in our development and so the third panel looks at that, it looks at one of the issues that is often not discuss which is gender equality in the work place, specifically discussing sexual harassment it is an issue that we are starting to see more and more and we need to have people inform. We need people to understand that there are processes and there are systema in place and so it is an opportunity for the department as well to do that and the last presentation that will close the summit is really an overview of the implementation of the national gender based plan of action that last year got funded through the UN Trust Fund and so that in itself is really a link to how do we provide for women who live and men of course in those situations; to be able to access services to be able to then live a life free of violence and so it is a link to gender equality because we know that once gender based violence is within their life’s they would not be able to then be participants in country’s development. “
CEO in the Ministry of Human Development, Social Transformation and Poverty Alleviation, Judith Alpuche addressed the crowd of women and a couple of men this morning during the opening ceremony. She told Love News that her message focused on gender mainstreaming.
“We have talked about gender main streaming for some years now, as I said the conversation kind of ebbs and flows in Belize but really helping to understand that when we talk about gender it’s not only women, gender main streaming really talks about how do we ensure that men and women, girls and boys get what they need; that we design policies; that we design programs; that we have laws in place; that the national development frame work is such, that men and women, girls and boys get what they need to fulfill their full potential and it’s something that we take for granted. we think ah we just need good policies and that’s it but we really need to do the analysis to see how things are impacting men and women especially differently, for us to be able design programs to have laws and policies in place, that respond to the various needs that really brings true national development.”