Belize Minister Advocates for Gender Equality at Commonwealth Meeting

Belize Minister Advocates for Gender Equality at Commonwealth Meeting

Minister of Human Development, Dolores Balderamos-Garcia has wrapped up her business trip in the Bahamas where the 13th Commonwealth Woman Affairs Minister’s Meeting was held this week.  The focus of the meeting was gender equality in various areas, ranging from climate change to sexual harassment.  As 56 nations gathered at the meeting, Belize is currently facing several issues including a recent disrespect of the Speaker of the House, which the minister spoke about.

Dolores Balderamos Garcia, Minister of Human Development, Families and Indigenous Peoples Affairs: “Now one of the things I won’t run from is that in our own country I think women are coming forward more in terms of experiences of sexual harassment and also experiences of disrespect. Recently I think it’s been quite unfortunate but recently we have had an incident of gross disrespect of the Speaker of the House and also accusations and allegations of sexual harassment and sexual misconduct so I’m not running from that. And I believe that when we look at the issue of gender equality, when women can come forward and tell their stories maybe not in a Me Too kind of way but certainly in our own Caribbean and Central American way we can then begin to see that there is progress and no silence. So I mention that because I’m not running at all from the issues of the day that are right on the table at home but at the same time I want to make sure that I can listen to the experiences and the progress made in other countries.”

In recent years, the term, ‘gender equality’ has become quite common, but how do you measure gender equality, and how do you know when you have reached your targets.  These are the questions we asked Minister Balderamos-Garcia.

Dolores Balderamos Garcia, Minister of Human Development, Families and Indigenous Peoples Affairs:  “It’s difficult to have a specific measuring stick but I think that one of the reasons for this triennial meeting is so that we can try to assess the progress that is made. Again difficult to have a measuring stick. Now through and complete the quality who knows well into the future but once we know that we are making progress I think that we are getting there. Now here in the Bahamas apparently there is a big debate about this issue of marital rape and there is a huge debate because you know some of the conservative and fundamental churches do not believe that we should even consider that it’s possible to have rape within marriage but if we are moving towards true equality then when a woman says no that must be no. And so how do we measure equality. We measure equality with when we can put in place legislation, we measure equality when women begin to speak up about injustice and wrongdoing and we measure equality it might be marked progress but we measure equality by the progress that we can see when not only women speak up but we can pass and foster legislation that will help towards equality. And as you know I never forget to mention that the motto of our Ministry of Human Development, Families and Indigenous People’s Affairs our motto is Equality and Inclusion and you know when we talk about that I never stop talking about it. I sing it like a sankey and maybe some people get a little tired but I think that if we can hold that in front of us each and every day then that would be the way of trying to measure the progress not by a yard stick or saying well we move from this to that but by number one awareness, women speaking up and trying to put in place the policies and legislation that will really advance our cause of gender equality.”

The 13th Commonwealth Women’s Affairs Ministers Meeting (13WAMM) was held at the Atlantis Paradise Island Resort in Nassau, the Bahamas, from 21 to 23 August 2023 under the theme ‘Equality toward a Common Future’.

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