It is not a surprise that gender based crime is a major issue, not only in Belize, but in the Caribbean region. To tackle this issue CARICOM held their ‘Rethinking Masculinity, Understanding Gender Equality workshop’ in Belize to help with these types of crimes. Masculinity is a set of attributes, behaviors, and roles associated with boys and men. In our society, masculinity is general known as being tough, not being emotional, being aggressive, etcetera. The workshop seeks to change the education curriculum in educating youths about their lifestyle and the misconceptions of masculinity. According to Education Minister, Patrick Faber, this inequality within society is what causes major crimes.
Hon.Patrick Faber, Minister of Education Youth and Sports: “The number one issue that we have in our society I believe right now is this issue of crime and violence that seems to be raging out of control and while many may believe that the answer is the heavy policing, increasing the number of patrols and maybe putting in surveillance cameras and all of this, that too is important but the real solution to this problem in my view lies in attacking the root causes of crime and the rethinking of masculinity and how we approach it as a society is key to that. If ou boys for instance feel that they are not getting good educational opportunities, and of course the statistics will show you that at UB – but you don’t even need to go to the tertiary level high school level or even primary school level when you look at the number of graduates at the end of the school year the girls far outnumber the boys. There was a plea especially for us to try to implement this at the early childhood level, Dr.Carol Babb our Chief Education Officer shared a story of a little boy who was being called bad names because he didn’t kick the ball in the football game as quick as he should have and of course they called him names to suggest that he was a wimp, that he was soft, that he was girly, I don’t want to tell you the word that Dr.Babb used but that he should be more masculine and then the immediate threat when he did not kick the ball was he would be shot; ‘I wah tek out mi gun and shoot yu if yuh tek long.’ and blah blah blah. So this is a very very real description of what is happening even in the lower level education system of our country. So we have to be really really mindful of these things and we have to take action now, tomorrow is too late.”
According to Anne Marie Williams, Deputy Program Manager for Gender and Development, solving this issue begins with the root of our education system.
Ann Marie Williams Deputy Program Manager for Gender and Development: “This workshop is actually to look, ‘how do we rethink masculinity?’. Masculinity doesn’t have to be aggression and all the bad things that we tend to – ‘jump on the cycle and speed up and crash up and drunk up. That’s another form of masculinity, that’s the toxicity in masculinity. We’re saying that masculinity is also routed in peace so how do we promote that culture of peace starting in schools and the wider society. Let’s look at the home. Parents are the first educators of their children but you will hear parents say ‘Bwai weh you di cry fa? Stop di cry like sissy.’ parents tell that to their sons, that starts from home. Parents are teachers, they go to schools and there are some teachers who are just like that so it’s institutionalized. So to answer your question is that we have not looked at how gender equality can help to shape the kind of masculinity that we require. In other words we have men who do anything and they don’t respect women vice versa too but again society will nurture the women because she is a victim and the men who commit all the crimes against the women who are also hurting we have not really taken enough time to look at the flip side and to say ‘they’re just not railing up to rail up sake there is a problem here.’ It is the things we tell our males and the same thing I’m telling you, what the society says and it’s not so. So we’re rethinking masculinity and that is what we’re doing here.”
The two day workshop will see participation from various stakeholders to change the education curriculum.