Situation Analysis of Gender and Politics in Belize Launch

10 Dec 2012

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A Situation Analysis of Gender and Politics in Belize “Toward Equality of Opportunity for Equality of Results” was launched today, Monday, December 10, 2012 by the National Women’s Commission (NWC) in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), at a ceremony held at the Best Western Biltmore Plaza in Belize City.  This is an important milestone of the partnership launched in February 2011 when a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed by UNDP and the NWC, which would seek to document the impediments that preclude the presence of female representatives in the House of Representatives.  The main findings of the Report were presented by the consultant Debra Lewis.

The Report identifies ways to jump start the process of identifying and implementing concrete, enforceable actions that could increase the representation of women in electoral politics and achieve Belize’s commitments to greater women’s representation as quickly as possible.  Particular attention has been paid to strategies necessary to open the doors for women at the national level of electoral politics.

Objectives for the situation analysis included providing data and analysis on the participation rate of women in both elected office and appointed positions since 1998, as well as an analysis of the current political and policy context and structural barriers affecting women in the political process.  In addition, the study assesses performance on the recommendations in the Women in Politics report and commitments made by political parties.  By identifying best practices elsewhere and analyzing the current situation in Belize, the analysis was to inform the development of an advocacy strategy and stimulate a public dialogue on women in politics in Belize.

Daniel Alemu, UNDP Assistant Resident Representative in his remarks, stated that “the participation of women in political leadership and decision-making is a requirement as a matter of justice since women represent half of the world’s population and are an essential component to any Government which claims to be representative and responsive.  Their inclusion is a hallmark of a functioning democracy as without the views, experiences and perspectives of women at this level, there exists a significant democratic deficit.”

“The analysis that was today launched detailed a list of recommendations…and I can endorse all of them” said Deborah Backer, Deputy Speaker, of the Guyana National Assembly, in her keynote address.  She stated that “As women, who make up approximately 50% of the population across CARICOM, we need to stay focused on WHY we want to see an increase of women in national politics and WHY we want to see, not 1 woman out of 31 but would like to see 10 or 11 of the 31 women in the House of Representatives in Belize” reinforcing the need for women to work in unity to be make a real difference upon entry in the political arena.

Recognizing that Belize is a relatively young nation, it is inspiring that more attention is being given to the issue of creating gender equality and equity in recent times.  The Government of Belize following the March 2012 elections, appointed two female Senators who were then assigned Ministerial portfolios.   The House of Representatives additionally, has an elected female representative from the opposition.  The Situation Analysis will reinforce the activities of the Project “Strengthening Women's Representation in National Leadership in Belize” funded by the United Nations Democracy Fund, and implemented by Women’s Issues Network (WIN) Belize.  The project, as well as the situation analysis promote women's right to representation and participation in national leadership as a prerequisite to improve their economic and social status in Belize.

Contact Information

Marta Hendrikx, Communications Associate, UNDP, Belmopan, tel. +501 822 2688, marta.hendrikx@undp.org