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Ann Marie Williams

Belizean Ann Marie Williams to take up post at CARICOM Secretariat

Former Executive Director of the National Women’s Commission, Ann Marie Williams will soon be taking up her new post at the CARICOM Secretariat in Guyana.  Williams told Love News she has mixed emotions at this time, however, she is confident that she will meet the challenges of her new position.

 Ann Marie Williams, Former Executive Director, NWC

Well I’ve been appointed Deputy Program Manager for Gender and Development at the CARICOM Secretariat, to coordinate the affairs throughout the region for Gender and Development; looking at mainstreaming gender throughout trying to look at what the sustainable development goals offer particularly goal 5 which speaks to gender equality and women’s empowerment and bring everybody together under one umbrella. The precursor to the MDGs it was goal 3 and not one country successfully achieved gender equality. And this is a huge challenge, but, if you really know me I love challenges. It’s an opportunity to do better and it’s an opportunity to do good by Belize. I feel sometimes we look at the CARICOM region and Belize and Guyana are two of the mainland territories at opposite ends and sometimes we feel that we are left out and particularly in an area like gender and development where a lot is riding on it for 2030.  What better time and I think the countries are poised to take it on. I am humbled but extremely honored that my hard work has paid off. I’m leaving with mixed emotions because I am extremely rooted in my Belizean Community. Belize is my heart and my soul but you know what, I feel the true measure of our country is not only to produce citizens for itself, but citizens to enhance regionally and internationally and it has always been a dream of mine, so, really it’s a dream come true.”

Williams took over the helm of the National Women’s Commission in 2008 when she was named the first Executive Director. She said one of the first major initiatives undertaken was a revision of the national gender policy.

Ann Marie Williams, Former Executive Director, NWC

“There was a first gender policy done under the group that Joan Musa led in 2002 and we really decided that lets look at the merits and demerits of this policy, let’s bring our users of the policy, our stakeholders together to find out what works, what is working, what hasn’t worked, what are some of the new and emerging issues and to get input to do a new policy. We all know how the activism, well I should say the anti activism around the policy turned out but I am happy to say that the Prime Minister promised that he would not renege and he would not rescind the policy and he didn’t. Yes we made a few changes but the policy is alive and well and we are using the policy. We even went on to produce a user friendly version of the policy which has been distributed to upper primary schools and secondary and tertiary institution throughout this country because the policy provides a guide as to how to make life better for every man, woman, boy and girl in a changing and developing Belize.”


The Women In Politics Program is another highlight of the Commission under William’s stewardship. The 13-week program aimed to socialize and train women for political office.  Williams said the program was well received from its inception.


Ann Marie Williams, Former Executive Director, NWC

Five women from that cohort ran straight out the door for village council elections- of those five women, three of them were successful, one became a chairlady and two became members of the village council and those were new women and we’ve gone on to have two other cohorts and the same thing has happened. The successes have been incremental but nonetheless they are successes. I remember in 2012 the Prime Minister appointing two women in the person of Joy Grant and Liscelle Alamilla to the House of Representative through being a senator and that has paved the way for today we have two women who are elected members of the House of Representatives and they are in cabinet and I’m very proud to say that one of those two, Tracy Taegar-Panton is a WIP graduate. Right now we are preparing for municipal elections coming March 7th but I’m not sure how many people know that the only mayor and deputy mayor in the country, two women they are graduates of the Women in Politics project too. And so like I said, the successes are incremental but nonetheless had we not had WIP we would not have new women to the political arena. And so the work continues because the ultimate goal is to pledge for parity and we know that parity is a long way off but there has to be a starting point because the journey of a thousand miles begins with the very first step.”


As we mentioned, Williams will now take up the post as Deputy Program Manager for Gender and Development at the CARICOM Secretariat.