SHE LEADS, SHE REPRESENTS
The social changes continue in Belize. While many of the changes may be
cause for worry or concern there are indeed some that are positive and
make for very good news. I follow the idea that most if not all
societies have been patriarchal. To put it simply men have always been
in charge and those that have seemed to provide space for women were
being benevolent dictators. This is not to say though, that men have
been the perpetrators and women the victims as many feminists try to put
it. Any smart individual knows that nothing is so cut and dry.
Nonetheless I still believe that women are denied many opportunities in
the economic, social and political life of our country simply because
they are women. Our society still believes in roles for the sexes and
not for individuals. Women are still seen in our society to be
caregivers and men the breadwinners. This is still an idealistic hope
for many. Unfortunately, this type of thinking is depriving women of
their rightful place in our society. Nothing is wrong with having roles
for our citizens but it should not be determined by social construction
based on their sex; being either male or female. There are some
biological determinants such as maternity but childcare is completely
within the capacity of the male partner.
The idea of gender equality is not to create problems, upset the morals
of society or create chaos. It is to provide equal access to
opportunities for each individual, whether male or female, to enhance
their human potentials and determine the use of the resources available.
Certainly this will change the norms of society but this is a normal and
natural process. We should never, in the name of norms or tradition
bound anyone, to a position of subjugation. It should be the endeavour
of our society, yes Belize, to give our people a voice in the affairs of
our nation. This is beneficial to the development of our country as it
expands the talent pool available.
This is why the recent changes in some Mayan communities in the Toledo
District is really worth noting. The Mayan communities can be considered
among the most traditional of cultures in Belize but the changes that
have been taking place have been dramatic. During the recent Village
Council Elections two Mayan women, one in the Toledo and one in the
Stann Creek District have been elected as Chairwomen of their villages.
Not surprisingly, the leadership in these communities have been taking
sharp but positive turns. In communities where once only men showed up
for meetings and men made all the decisions, women are now the leaders.
I would like to congratulate and encourage, through this medium, Mrs.
Beatrice Canelo of Crique Sarco and Mrs. Francisca Chiac of Santa Rosa
on their brave steps to bring positive changes to their communities.
Both women are married with other responsibilities of their own within
their households. Equally worthy of praise are their husbands who have
decided to go against the norm of their communities and possibly the
ridicule of their colleagues. My brothers, changes don't happen by
themselves, we make them happen by our deliberate actions.
I hope that more and more women can begin to take up roles and positions
in our communities that they have once been denied simply because they
were women. This will only make Belize the envy of our neighbours. Now
the Mayan woman not only works and takes care of the home but she also
leads and represents. Now we are talkin'.
By Valentino Shal in the Belize Times