Throughout history, men have been known to dominate politics. However, women have been making strides to change all that. Zenaida Moya was Belize City’s first female Mayor, but Belize has yet to elect our first female Prime Minister. Today, a National Women in Politics Conference was held at the Belize Biltmore Plaza in order to inspire more women to take up a career in politics. Senator Elena Smith was at today’s conference. Senator Smith, who is also the President of the Belize National Teachers Union, feels that women are essential to the political movement of this country.
Senator Elena Smith – President, BNTU
“We have always heard that often times when women are in positions, we get the most resistance from males. Males tend to think that women belong in the kitchen and because we are stepping up now, they seem to think that they are the only ones who should be heard and we must be behaving in a certain manner. We have to understand that as women we play an important role and so we must not allow ourselves to be second best. We must always do what we need to do and we must show our males that we are not better than you but we are your equals; whatever you can do we can do, at times even better.”
Charge d Affaires of the U S Embassy, Adrienne Galanek, who spoke at today’s conference, told Love News that we need to train our females to be leaders.
Adrienne Galanek – Charge d Affaires, U S Embassy
“One of the things I emphasized is creating the expectation that women should be leaders it is really important to create that expectation among the populace so that it becomes something that is not really an anomaly but it is an expectation that it will happen. I was really fortunate in my case, I had a teacher who cultivated within me the expectation that I would be a leader and also instrumental to my development and what I wanted to share also with all the women gathered here is the importance of mentorship and we all have a duty to be mentors and to be mentored. Mentors just doesn’t stop when you attain a position, it is always something that is ongoing and your mentors are the ones who also tell you where you are steering off course and put you back on course.”
Love News also spoke with Assistant Professor of Political Science of Rutgers University, Dr. Kelly Dittmar,the Keynote Speaker at today’s event who shared the importance of women being in politics.
Dr. Kelly Dittmar – Asst Professor of Political Science, Rutgers University
“We know from research and from seeing it that women make a difference when they are in office. They bring not only a different perspective but they bring priorities to policy agendas and they also act as role models to other women . For young people they can’t be what they can’t see and if they don’t see women in leadership position what we see is a cycle of women under representation or men’s over representation in politics. But the most important thing is that we see conversations change when women are at the table. Men and women don’t live the same lives, they face different challenges, they face different realities on a day to day basis and so that perspective needs to be at the table when you are making decisions that are going to affect women, children, families and a diversity of the population. You need to see that diversity in government.”
The theme of today’s women in politics conference was “Empowered Women: Empowering Women for Meaningful Change!