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​Ministry of Indigenous People’s Affairs Holds ​Indigenous Women’s Empowerment Forum in Dangriga

It was all about indigenous women empowerment today in Dangriga Town. The Ministry of Indigenous People’s Affairs today held the Stann Creek Indigenous Women’s Empowerment Forum at the Pelican Beach Resort. The event was held to conclude 16 Days of Activism. Today is also World Human Rights Day. Minister Dolores Balderamos Garcia spoke to Love News.

Dolores Balderamos-Garcia, Minister, Human Development, Families and Indigenous People Affairs: “We would like for the women to leave energized and empowered to carry on meeting with their sisters and helping their sisters in particular where it comes to agriculture, where it comes to wellness and wellbeing is so very important and finally last but not least the leadership aspect How can we help our sisters to come together so that more of us can head into leadership positions in our country.”

Harry Arzu, Stann Creek Correspondent: Do we really know the needs of some of these women out there ?

Dolores Balderamos-Garcia, Minister, Human Development, Families and Indigenous People Affairs: “Well that’s what we’re finding out because we are not here to sit and assume the needs of everybody out there. We would like to hear from the women in the communities themselves so that we can assist them in whatever direction that is positive that they would like to -“

Harry Arzu, Stann Creek Correspondent: Will there be any formation of groups ? Committees ?

Dolores Balderamos-Garcia, Minister, Human Development, Families and Indigenous People Affairs: “I don’t want to go to that yet because that’s a little bit in the future. But we believe that we can work as mediators, facilitators and people who can help to empower communities going forward but to go to the formation of groups etc that might be getting a little ahead of ourselves.”

Harry Arzu, Stann Creek Correspondent: i see one of our seniors there Felicia Nunez.

Dolores Balderamos-Garcia, Minister, Human Development, Families and Indigenous People Affairs: “Yes indeed. We’re delighted to have Honorable Sylvia Florez, we’re delighted to have Ms. Phylis Cayetano women who have really been in the struggle for a long long time and then of course our sisters from Maya Center and we will be having another indigenous women’s empowerment forum in the Toledo district in the new year.”

Guest speaker at the event was acting Chief Justice Michelle Arana. President of the National Women Commission Thea Garcia who stressed that women’s rights are part of global human rights.

Thea Garcia, President, National Women Commission: “We are partnering today and supporting the minister in her vision and what she wanted to do today was to kind of focus in on the empowerment of the indigenous women in Belize because indigenous women are by and large disproportionately affected by discrimination, by access to credit, access to land, access to telecommunications and all these things and so she wanted to focus on holistic wellness, on empowerment, on making sure that we bridge the gaps and we fill the voids in terms of their accessibility to programs to whatever is there that they’re able to access in terms of agriculture and for financing. As you know the indigenous woman is the caretaker of the environment and the home but beyond that she is your guardian in the communities especially rural communities of spirituality, of culture of our traditions and our beliefs and so when you attack especially the rural woman, the indigenous woman you attack all the development, all the sustainable development that Belize tries to do is set back every time we do not have women in the rural and the indigenous areas having proper access to all the resources and everything that’s available for their counterparts that are non indigenous.”

Harry Arzu, Stann Creek Correspondent: So what’s your methodology to get your message across today ?

Thea Garcia, President, National Women Commission: “Well we have been working very hard during the sixteen days and as you know the theme for this year is “You and Me From 16 Days to 365: End Violence Against Women Now.” and so basically what we are saying from the National Women’s Commission is we have to keep us these efforts, sustain these efforts not only during sixteen days but we are going to sustain it for 365 days a year what we’re trying to do here.”