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#486687 - 02/25/14 04:06 AM National Women’s Month  
Joined: Oct 1999
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Marty Offline
Marty  Offline
Greetings from the Office of the Special Envoy for Women and Children and the National Women’s Commission (NWC). The month of March in Belize is celebrated annually as National Women’s Month; as a result, the Special Envoy Office in collaboration with the NWC is staging the 20,000 Strong National Women’s Empowerment Rally on Thursday, March 6, 2014 from 9:00A.M. to 3:00P.M. at the Marion Jones Stadium in Belize City.

The aim of this first-of-its kind event is to demonstrate the power, influence and significance of women by showing the Belizean society a day without women. This rally will serve as a platform for a collective approach at finding solutions to the issues that affect the lives of women. We are, therefore, inviting all women, from as near as Belize City to as far as the Toledo District to take the day off from work as a means of celebrating their collective strength and participate in the rally en mass.

Women from the districts and surrounding villages will journey by buses and boats while Belize City women will march from Memorial Park to the Marion Jones Stadium where all women will descend for a rally featuring dynamic speakers with women’s rights messages. On March 6th, we are asking all women to wear something orange. This vibrant colour brings together every woman under the banner of the UNITE Campaign to end violence against women and girls.

It is against this backdrop that we are asking you to call the National Women’s Commission Secretariat at 223-4284 in Belize city or the contacts listed below in each district.

Consuelo Hernandez 402-2120
Sandra Reyes 601-3671

Makesha Suazo 302-2058
Flotilda Zak 624-8168

Erlene Baptist 660-1444

Shary Medina 637-0433

Kathleen Pate 620-7533
Bernadette Fernandez 627-9690

Lorna Jones 663-7926

Michele Irving 622-8671

Lorraine Johnson 702-2021
Amira Teul 634-4552

#487422 - 03/05/14 03:53 AM Re: National Women’s Month [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 57,815
Marty Offline
Marty  Offline

Catholic Church Pulls The Religious Rug From Under Women’s Empowerment Rally

By now, you've surely heard about the "20,000 Strong Women Empowerment Rally." It's set for Thursday March sixth - and organizers from the Women's Commission and the office of the Special Envoy For Women and Children are planning for it to be huge. But today they took a serious hit when no less than the Roman Catholic Church came out saying it does not endorse the rally. A quite remarkable release issued this afternoon says quote, "the invitation does not speak to the complementary role between men and women as taught to use by Christ through Her Church." And if that wasn't direct enough, the next sentence makes it clear. It says, quote, "the National Women's Commission promotes values that contradict Christian and moral teachings regarding respect for all human life, family marriage, and human sexuality…we do not believe that the well being of women can be enhanced by advocacy which promotes abortions and so called pseudo rights of men and women and same sex relationships."

That's a heavy dose of criticism and the church says it won't be persuaded to support any group which quote, "advocates violence against the unborn or any disordered sexual activity." End quote.

Rough stuff, but when we called Commission Chair Ann Marie Williams she was in a meeting and unavailable for comment. Special Envoy Kim Barrow told us she will comment tomorrow.

Channel 7

#487507 - 03/06/14 04:26 AM Re: National Women’s Month [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 57,815
Marty Offline
Marty  Offline

Kim Simplis Barrow says she’s disappointed by church’s position

Final preparations are being put to the Twenty Thousand Strong Women Empowerment Rally, organized by the Special Envoy for Women and Children, with logistical support from the National Women’s Commission. But on Tuesday evening, the huge undertaking came under fire when the Roman Catholic Church, the biggest denomination, said it would not endorse it. It has huge ramifications because the Ministry of Education has given the green light for teachers to participate including those from church-state schools. In a signed statement, Bishop Dorick Wright, on behalf of the church, expressed his support for the condemnation of all forms of violence, aggression and disrespect of women. The church, however, does not support the rally since it doesn’t speak to the complementary role of men in society. Likewise, the Catholic Church remains resolute in its position that the Women’s Commission promotes values, including abortion, as well as same-sex relationships, which contradict Christian and moral teachings. Not surprisingly, the Office of the Special Envoy for Women and Children, as well as the NWC has taken umbrage to the letter. Today, Kim Simplis-Barrow issued a release expressing her disappointment in the position of the church. She told News Five that it is simply a matter of miscommunication.


Kim Simplis-Barrow, Special Envoy for Women and Children

“It’s very disappointing because this rally really is about women and celebrating women, nothing else. I mean it’s unfortunate that the church, and I believe [the release] mentioned about abortion and whole number of things that really caught me off guard and I think not only me, but a lot of other people. It’s amazing the support, the calls from Catholics who have been calling me to say, “I support and I will be out there,” because they do not support the position that the church has laid out. It’s really, respectfully and I grew up catholic…I have to say that the church has been fed wrong information and it is an injustice to women in Belize for that to have happened. A simply phone call to myself…I know people in the Catholic Church, they could have picked up the phone and call me and say hey let’s discuss this; what is this about…how can we come together to make this truly a success. Again it really goes to say how much harder we have to work; how we have to really start standing with each other and building each other up. Again this rally isn’t about destroying our men, tearing our men; this rally is about us walking side by side with our men. It is about us taking, sitting around that table with our men making important decisions.”

Over $250,000 to be spent on rally

It is hoped that there will be a massive turnout of women at the rally, but aside from the Roman Catholic Church, the organizers have received another very surprising declaration of non-support. That came from the People’s United Party, which has always claimed to be all about women empowerment. In fact, that party released its Women’s Agenda today, but they will be a no-show at the rally. So why are the P.U.P. women boycotting the event? Deputy Leader Dolores Balderamos-Garcia says that basically the twenty-thousand strong rally is showboating without substance, a stylishly-prepared meat platter without any meat. That’s one reason. And then there’s the other. Balderamos-Garcia says that the budget for the one-day event comes in at more than a quarter-million dollars, and that expenditure, she says, is ludicrous and atrocious.

Dolores Balderamos-Garcia, Deputy Leader, P.U.P.

Dolores Balderamos-Garcia

“We received an invitation and I want to say respectfully that this is no personal disparagement to the organizers or to Miss Kim Simplis Barrow. But when we looked at all of the issues challenging the women of Belize today, we felt that in good conscience we couldn’t not just go out there and join a rah-rah rally. We felt that is absolutely too important, the issues of women are too important to trivialize it in terms of our participation in what we consider something that is not real and something and something that is more of a smokescreen than something that is going to benefit the Belizean people.  For example, I want to say to you that we have learned that the budget for this event is over two hundred and seventy thousand dollars. We cannot in good conscience support that kind of public expenditure out of tax payers money, bring women into Belize City, have them put on an orange T-shirt, give them a plate of food and listen to talks and rah-rah and then they will go back to Toledo, they will go back to the Cayo and the north and the cayes and face the same reality. We have to look at everything from—not a partisan political point of view, but the point of view of what is the U.D.P. government doing for women. And our answer, when we really look at it is a big fat zero. So why bring out people to a rah-rah rally and then they will go back to their same reality.”

Ann-Marie Williams

Ann-Marie Williams, Executive Director, Women’s Commission

“The budget is not over two hundred and seventy thousand dollars for this one event; the budget is over two hundred and seventy thousand dollars, but it is premise on a year-long series of activities. The majority of our money came from the Oak Foundation and we’ve had a lot of great corporate sponsors along with other sponsors that we’ve written proposals to fund this event. It is by no means public money.”

Mike Rudon

“Could you tell us what extent of that money, what amount…because we assume there was some Government of Belize funding either through the Ministry of Human Development?”

Ann-Marie Williams

“The Government of Belize and the Ministry of Education, I must say, has assisted us with some transportation and not with money. You would know that the Ministry of Education run school buses and so it is from that angle and that is some of the help that we are getting.”

Today, News Five tried to get some official clarification on the budget from the Ministry of Human Development, but we were unsuccessful. As you will have seen, the copy of the budget we received today indicates that the rally will cost two hundred and seventy-one thousand dollars: more than a hundred thousand on transportation, and more than a hundred thousand for what is referred to as rally logistics. We could also not confirm allegations that government is footing a large part of the bill.

B.N.T.U. says its teachers can go to the rally

Luke Palacio

The Belize National Teachers Union, despite permission being granted to its membership by the Ministry of Education to attend the rally, also finds itself in the middle of the standoff between the Special Envoy for Women and Children and the Roman Catholic Church. According to National President Luke Palacio, teachers are simply being advised to exercise discretion, since the union has also planned a separate demonstration to coincide with the annual budget presentation in Belmopan on Friday.  Palacio says that while B.N.T.U. represents a significant number of schools which fall under Catholic management, it also expects that the rally will be attended by teachers from other religious denominations who do not share a similar view.

Luke Palacio, National President, B.N.T.U.

“When we look at what we have dubbed as a double standard is simply because the issues at hand…if we are talking about people having their constitutional rights, the last time the unions indicated that they were going to be having these rallies throughout the country, there were all sorts of negative statements made implicating the teachers as being irresponsible, unprofessional, etc. On the other hand, the Ministry now says to teachers you can go to this rally and you will not suffer any types of consequences. The Catholic Church, which manages the largest number of schools in this country have sent out their take on the matter of this women rally. The B.N.T.U.’s position on that matter is that Catholic Church has its policies, its principles; what it believes in. And so therefore if they are saying to the teachers in their management that it don’t believe that they should go there, our position on it as the B.N.T.U. is that we are asking our teachers to use their discretion. In terms of what the Chief Education Officer has undertaken and has written in a memo to the managements and to the schools and to the union in relation to Friday’s demonstration, again seems to indicate to us that there is a special effort being made to intimidate our teachers. We’ve said to our teachers from day one, the rules are clear—rule one hundred and two—as amended in the school rules, we note they have taken it a step further as far as we have been informed. They are now threatening our teachers—and we have been told that this is being done by some managements and in some instances, some education officials—that they will be docked for three days. We want the ministry to inform those managements or to correct this memo to clearly indicate to those managements that the rules are clear—rule one hundred and thirty-three in Education Rules 2000 states clearly that Saturday and Sunday are non school days. So we are saying to them that they are not going to dock our teachers’ salary for Saturday and Sunday because ordinarily they would not have been at work at any rate. And we need to make this absolutely clear. And Monday is a public and bank holiday so I want to know if they would want to dock our teachers pay on Monday. These type of things, again we are saying to the members of the B.N.T.U. and the Belizean public in general who are supporting the teachers in this initiative that we are undertaking; that our teachers will not be intimidated.”

So as we said, the Roman Catholic Church and the Opposition are not supporting the event, but on Thursday, Belize City is likely to be overflowing when thousands descend in the city.

Channel 5

#487513 - 03/06/14 04:53 AM Re: National Women’s Month [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Feb 2004
Posts: 2,205
collyk Offline
collyk  Offline
This is going to be an historic event for Belize. There is a big group of women attending from Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker to represent our beautiful islands and to show solidarity with woman across the nation.
Belize Wedding Photography

#487519 - 03/06/14 05:47 AM Re: National Women’s Month [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Oct 2003
Posts: 2,434
Katie Valk Offline
Katie Valk  Offline
This is a perfect example how we are not able to pull together while our two political parties are pulling us apart. Granted, both parties have failed us. We have good people, but none want to enter politics. Those who do, well, read the news.

As for Catholic Bishop Wright, well, looks like he has not gotten the memo from the Vatican. I wonder how Belize's Holy See to the Vatican would respond if asked. Toe which line? The Vatican or local group lead by Maria Zabaneh who I believe is behind the letter and we know against abortion in any circumstance, including rape, incest and IF THE LIFE and HEALTH Of the Mother is at risk. How many women vote for that? My bet? They are louder than their actual imprint.

Belize based travel specialist
#487562 - 03/06/14 02:51 PM Re: National Women’s Month [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 57,815
Marty Offline
Marty  Offline
[Linked Image] 20,000 STRONG!

#487565 - 03/06/14 03:46 PM Re: National Women’s Month [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Feb 2004
Posts: 2,205
collyk Offline
collyk  Offline
What a wonderful and inspiring day for Belize. I attended as did many people from Ambergris Caye, Caye Caulker and across the country. Amazing!
Belize Wedding Photography

#487590 - 03/07/14 03:50 AM Re: National Women’s Month [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 57,815
Marty Offline
Marty  Offline

Empowerment rally big on energy

The vibe on the ground at the rally

Sr. Carolee Chanona giving an empowering speech for women countrywide.

#487594 - 03/07/14 04:15 AM Re: National Women’s Month [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 57,815
Marty Offline
Marty  Offline

The vibe on the ground at the rally

The rally got plenty attention; a lot of it even before today. Politicians weighed in, and so did social activists, humanitarian organizations, the B.N.T.U., anti-gay protesters, gender-policy dissenters and even the mighty Roman Catholic Church. But today, all attention was directed on center stage, so Mike Rudon took to the outskirts to get the vibe on the ground. Here’s that story.

Mike Rudon, Reporting

It is a first of its kind initiative, and while it met with criticism, derision, rejection and even condemnation, it certainly got participation….very positive participation. His party blasted the rally on Wednesday, basically saying it was an expensive but meaningless affair…but former PUP leader John Briceño was up front and center today, and not afraid to speak his mind.

John Briceño

John Briceño, Orange Walk Area Representative

“Today, I’m here to support the women, and I must add also my wife is here as a speaker, and I have to come here to show her the support and that I am proud of her and I am proud of all the women, of the work that they have done for this great country, Belize.”


“So will you get in trouble for being out here today?”

John Briceño

“I don’t think so. I think the party is understanding…our party is an inclusive party…our party believes that yes, the party may take a certain position but at the end of the day we are individuals and we believe that if we believe strongly about something that we should be able to stand up and speak in favour of what you truly believe in.”

The twenty-thousand strong rally has been promoted as a movement to empower women….at time for their voices to be heard, and a time for politics to be put aside. So while politicians were on hand, politics was put on the backbench.

Lisel Alamilla

Lisel Alamilla, U.D.P. Minister

“I think this is an event that we should celebrate as women. It is an opportunity to demonstrate that as women we can come together and really focus on the challenges that we face and I think this is what this is about. Those who choose to view it differently…that is totally their prerogative.”


“How is this, and I’m just going by the main criticism…how are women being empowered by being here?”

Lisel Alamilla

“Well the idea of this really is to bring women together and to start to plant the seeds and to create the awareness that as women we need to unite and go back to our communities so that we can mobilize the women at all levels of our society to action…”

Herman Longsworth

Herman Longsworth, U.D.P. Minister

“I am quite comfortable with my masculinity and I am never threatened by women. And I believe that the time has come for us to embrace the principle of women as equals to men…I really believe that.”

There has been, like we said, criticism of the event…much of it from the church and from politicians. Today those who attended had responses for both those sectors.

David Goff,

Reverend David Goff, Former President, Methodist Church

“I know there have been those who have come out strongly…there have been those dissenting voices. In some respects it’s unfortunate that has turned out to be so, but I guess we have to respect the views of others…to each his own. Yet I think everybody should know at the same time that those voices do not represent the whole church and that there are other persons in the church and other church leaders who see things differently and so who feel that such a move as this is important, so it’s good to be a part of this twenty-thousand strong women’s rally.” 

Herman Longsworth

“I know that there has been a lot of criticism. I will not disrespect anybody who has criticized. I simply want to say that if they can do better, then come out and do so.”

And for some, it wasn’t only about empowerment…it was about using the forum to send a message about critical concerns affecting women and children. Patty Arceo’s nephew was killed early this morning, his body riddled with bullets. She says the grief she feels at his cruel murder is what inspired her attendance here and her message today.

Patty Arceo

Patty Arceo, P.U.P. Political Officer

“Left, right and center our young men are being killed. Our young people, children are suffering from all of this…families are suffering. But what are we going to do about all of this…just say oh my, oh no, it’s your nephew, it’s your son, it’s your daughter. NO. It is time to stand up and I take the platform today to call on the relevant authorities to start doing your work today. Don’t wait until elections are coming. Do your work today.”

A powerful message, fitting for what was a very powerful showing of woman-power today….Mike Rudon for News Five.

Empowerment rally short on numbers, but big on energy

Led by Kim Simplis Barrow, the Special Envoy for Women and Children, the planned women’s empowerment rally took place this morning in Belize City travelling from Memorial Park to the Marion Jones Stadium. It is a precursor to World’s Women’s Day celebrated on March eighth and according to Simpliss Barrow, the start of a one year calendar of activities.  All seemed to have been going well until two days ago when the Roman Catholic Church and the Seventh Day Adventists announced they were not supporting the event dubbed as twenty-thousand strong. While the numbers fell short, the energy was at an all time high among participants who included women from all walks of life. We have full coverage of the event and we start with Isani Cayetano.

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

An ambitious effort to mobilize twenty thousand women from all corners of the country, to participate in a first-of-its kind empowerment rally, came to fruition in Belize City today, sans the tangible number of attendees.  The gathering began this morning with a procession from Memorial Park, the result of a mammoth undertaking to bus as many people into the Old Capital by eight o’clock.

Kim Simplis Barrow

Kim Simplis-Barrow, Special Envoy for Women & Children

“It’s overwhelming and I am very happy to see so many women out here today.  It’s such a surreal experience to know that all this came together with just one thought.”

The throng, a sea of orange t-shirts worn by women and children, for the most part, made its way from Marine Parade onto Newtown Barracks, before culminating at the Marion Jones Sporting Complex.  The outcome, despite a lack of support from some members of the religious community, has galvanized women from all walks of life.

Reverend Mary Martin, Supporter

“The empowerment of twenty thousand Belizean women is a step in the right direction.  It’s a step.  Women, various types of women, all types of women are welcome here; no political agenda, no religious agenda, just women who want to make a positive impact in our world.”

Janelle Chanona

While there may not be political or religious motivation, the idea is for women to be equally represented in all areas of Belizean society.

Janelle Chanona, Guest Speaker

“This event is only one catalyst for the change we want to see.  The Office of the Special Envoy for Women and Children, in collaboration with its partners, is commencing a year-long campaign which features a series of events and opportunities to build more awareness about the need to have women’s participation and leadership in every level of society.”

It is a sentiment shared by all in attendance.  While women have assumed leadership roles in the household, there is still a great need for participation at the highest level of decision-making, particularly where it concerns the wellbeing of the Belizean people.

Myrna Manzanares

Myrna Manzanares, Supporter

“As far as I am concerned, women are always women and they have that thing within themselves that they always want to shine without putting anybody down.  So when we have an opportunity like this to bring all the women together so that they could get together and realize [their strength], it’s like a chain reaction.  They realize that, “you know what, this person and that person are thinking some of the same things and I can touch you and she can touch her, all the way down the line.”  That is wonderful because it brings out what we have inside.”

…and what lies within, to hear Tara Hernandez tell it, is wealth untold.

Tara Hernandez

Tara Hernandez, Supporter

“I’m from Stann Creek Ecumenical Junior College and I think this event is great to uplift our females today and I believe that everyone could be successful in life and everything comes with just doing what is possible and I think that anything can happen with God in our lives.”

Interestingly, the Roman Catholic Church did not give this event its blessings.  The turnout by no means is paltry; however, hundreds more could have attended, including teachers from Corozal who were scheduled to attend the rally.

Sandra Reyes, Supporter

“We had a lot of teachers from the Catholic schools up to yesterday.  This morning and late yesterday evening, most of them called and said that they won’t be able to make it again but they didn’t give a reason why they wouldn’t be able to make it again.”

Sandra Reyes

Isani Cayetano

“Do you believe that it may have something to do with the position that the Catholic Church has taken with regards to this event?”

Sandra Reyes

“Well yes, I believe so but to my knowledge I believe they have it in the wrong context, you know.  To me it doesn’t have anything to do with abortion and gays and whatever things like that but they put it into that context, so…”

The underlying philosophy, it would seem, is that since the movement is organized, in part, by those behind the Revised Gender Policy, which itself is controversial, it is being staunchly opposed by the church.

Reverend Mary Martin

Mary Martin

“There are Roman Catholic women here and so a position is taken, politically, on certain issues but people still work individually in their area of consciousness.  I will not say what the church should have done, I do believe that we stand for inclusion, we stand for dignity, we stand for love.  I can say those things about the church.”

The resounding message of today’s show of solidarity to highlight women’s issues, despite the outcome, is not lost on the Special Envoy for Women and Children.

“We need to start building each other up instead of tearing each other down.  That we have come so far but we have yet a long way to go.”

Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

Channel 5

20,000 Strong Women Join Empowerment Rally in Belize City
The month of March in Belize is celebrated annually as National Women’s Month and as a result, the Special Envoy Office, in collaboration with the National Women’s Commission, staged the 20,000 Strong National Women’s Empowerment Rally on Thursday, March 6, 2014, from 10:00A.M. to 3:00P.M. at the Marion Jones Stadium in Belize City. In a press release sent out by the Roman Catholic Church in Belize, they acknowledged and stated that they celebrate the women of Belize during and beyond the month of March however, they did not endorse the 20,000 Women’s rally because to the Catholic Church the invitation did not speak to the complementarity role between men and women as taught by Christ through the Church. The release continued by stating that the National Women’s Commission promotes values that contradict Christian and moral teachings regarding respect for all human life, family, marriage and human sexuality as ordered by God . “The Roman Catholic Church strongly believes that the well being of women cannot be enhanced by advocacy that promotes abortion and so-called pseudo rights of men and women and same sex relationships,” stated the release.

20,000 Strong Empowerment Rally inspires change
The women of San Pedro and Caye Caulker joined the rousing ranks of energetic marchers attending the Women’s Empowerment Rally and March in Belize City on Thursday, March 6th. Dressed in the power color of the day, bright tangerine and orange, small groups of friends from the cayes were joined by female students and teachers from San Pedro High School and Ocean Academy. They were a proud contingent sporting bright signs which carried the slogan, “R E S P E C T is the CAYE!” Busloads of women from all the districts of Belize emptied along Princess Margaret Drive, filling the area with energy and enthusiasm. The island groups were supported by sponsorships from Caye Caulker Water Taxi, San Pedro Red Cross, Manuel Heredia Jr., and Gecko Graphics. The event was organized by Belize’s Special Envoy for Women and Children and the National Women’s Commission (NWC). Under a searing sun, thousands of women settled into what shade was provided, or stood on the wide field of the 20000 Strong Women's Rally-22Marion Jones Stadium as poignant and empowering speeches commenced. Addressing the crowd as “sisters, mothers, daughters, tias and abuelas”, women from all walks of life took to the stage to rally the thousands. International business icon Marie Sharp encouraged women to follow creative and original ideas, take risks, and not to give up in the face of competition. A tearful 19-year-old Jennifer Lopez detailed her challenging life and road to empowerment; while growing up she received little support from her nuclear family and was threatened by sexual molestation at home. She struggled with much adversity before finding support services from a case worker at Family Services, enabling her to continue her education and nurture her young daughter. Musical artist Melonie Gillett led the thousands ladies in a strong sing-along rendition of Alicia Keyes’ “This Girl is on Fire” and singer Christelle Wilson rallied a danceable version of Chaka Kahn’s “I’m Every Woman.”

#487617 - 03/07/14 08:14 AM Re: National Women’s Month [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Feb 2004
Posts: 2,205
collyk Offline
collyk  Offline
So proud of our representation from the Cayes. Here is the wonderful Patty Arceo on the rally. Patty Arceo on the Womens Rally
Belize Wedding Photography

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