Belize Cabinet Approves National Gender Policy 2021-2030

Belize Cabinet Approves National Gender Policy 2021-2030

Member of the House of Representatives, Dolores Balderamos-Garcia has announced the approval by Cabinet for the National Gender Policy 2021-2030. The overarching goal of the revised National Gender Policy is to advance the achievement of de jure and de facto gender equality and equity in Belize. Minister Balderamos-Garcia outlined the major policy priorities for gender empowerment in the country. 

Dolores Balderamos Garcia, Minister of Indigenous People’s Affairs: “Cabinet has looked at the policy and has given its approval. I will be mentioning it in the House of Representatives this week and I’m very pleased that we have come to the point where Cabinet has accepted the National Gender Policy from 2021 right up to 2030. And the areas of importance in the National Gender Policy are education, health, looking at the domestic violence situation that is very important, also employment and income generation for women. And so those are the major areas, institutional strengthening of course but you know health, education, employment, reducing domestic violence those are the very main areas of the policy. But the policy also looks at vulnerable populations anybody who is a vulnerable whether you may be HIV positive or have another health condition, you may be an elderly person , somebody who is being discriminated against maybe being a migrant or a foreigner, you have members of the LGBT+ community who are often very much discriminated against and who as a government we have to provide protection for. And so these are the kinds of things that are in the policy but the protection of vulnerable people is not the main aspect of the policy. The main aspect of the policy that we should focus on is the whole issues of health, education, employment and wealth generation for women, fighting against gender based violence and also I was forgetting an aspect women in politics and decision making.”

One of the critical areas of concern is to increase women’s participation in power and decision-making positions. Based on 2021 studies by the National Women’s Commission, at the political level, 4% of seats in the Cabinet are held by women, 20% of women are area representatives, 33% women as speaker of the house within the past 45 years and 42% women as CEOs in the Government of Belize. 

Dolores Balderamos Garcia, Minister of Indigenous People’s Affairs: “As you would know I am one of only four women in the House of Representatives. We do have a few more women in the Senate but the percentage of women actually at the decision making table is very very small. We have tried as a government to compensate for that by appointing many women to top positions, CEOs, chairpersons of statutory bodies, but still it is a struggle to get more women in politics. I happen to be the only woman in Cabinet and last week we were at the United Nations for the Commission on the Status of Women meeting and that meeting focuses on gender equality but this year the focus was on how we can strengthen our institutions so that there is more provision of service and also the ability for us to look at gender equality from the lense of how do we empower women through economic empowerment but also strengthening our institutions and providing more care where the are is needed and that again dovetailed very nicely with the launch of the National Council on Ageing Strategic Plan today. Because if more women get into the workforce then who is going to mind the children ? So we have to look at caregivers and we have to value the work of caregivers, pay our caregivers so this is something that as a country we have to work at. But I did want to highlight that we need more women in power and decision making so that we can have that aspect, the political aspect of women in leadership and that aspect of gender equality. I think that we reached to a level of about 30% women in municipal office because we just had the municipal elections twelve days ago and I think we have about 30% women which is a target but still that doesn’t mean we musn’t keep striving for gender equality. I wish it would be 50/50, that you have as many women as there are men in government and in our statutory bodies and in all leadership positions.”

Minister Balderamos-Garcia added that this achievement is especially important since it will be announced during Women’s Month.

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