One of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals is to achieve women’s equal participation and leadership in political and public life by the year 2030. But in 2021, women are still underrepresented at all levels of decision making worldwide. The UN Women’s Organization says that these numbers suggest that achieving gender parity in political life is far off. UDP Albert Area Representative, Tracy Taegar-Panton is the only woman in the House of Representatives in this cycle that is serving her second term. Today, in an hour-long discussion on “The Morning Show”, she elaborated on how important it is for the climate to change for women in Belize, a country where fifty-one percent of its population are women and girls.
Tracy Panton, Area Representative, Albert Division: “I think it’s so important Ernesto for particularly for women voices to be heard and to be around the decision making table in this country. We have just about 51% of our population who are women and yet when we look at the representation in terms of political leadership we have a way to go and so I feel very privileged that I get a chance to help chart a path not just for myself and my colleagues but for future generations of young women it is a tremendous privilege for me, it’s a great opportunity for us to be heard and to represent women throughout this country not just in my constituency but throughout the country. I have no regrets. It’s not an easy path. I say to people that it’s probably the hardest I’ve ever worked in my life but again to be able to serve Belize in this capacity is beyond anything that I had ever dreamed of and so I feel very humbled by the opportunity and certainly very privileged. You know to whom much is given much is expected and so I have poured my entire self into doing the best that I can in terms of representing the people.”
As of September 2021, only twenty-six women are Heads of State and/or Government in twenty-four countries. UN Women estimates that at the current rate, gender equality in the highest positions of power will not be reached for another 130 years. Taegar-Panton noted that while movement towards improving the situation is sluggish, she is not quite sure that legislating quotas is the answer to the problem.
Tracy Panton, Area Representative, Albert Division: “We have moved a little to slow. I do think it’s absolutely important. We can’t have half of a population being heard in critical decisions that affect our lives, our livelihood, it affects the future of this country and so I will do what I can. You know my colleagues in the United Democratic Party there is Bev Williams who is our second deputy leader of the party. We have a women’s group, a women’s arm of the party that continues to champion and advocate for more women in decision making positions within the party and hopefully by extension that will be also a part of our national platform in terms of reforming the United Democratic Party. Personally I have not yet gotten to the point where I subscribe to a quota system for women and I may get there , I’m not saying its off the table entirely but I would like us to get to be considered by our own merit, what we bring to the table, the skillsets we bring to the table, the experiences we bring to the table. You know so that we don’t have to rely on quotas but we may get there. I certainly I’m not a big champion of that idea as yet but let’s see. Let’s see what progress we make, it has been slow but there has been growth.”
We will have more from the discussion with the Albert Area Representative in tonight’s newscast. UN Women notes in the world, only a quarter of all national parliaments are women, up from a minuscule eleven percent in 1995. At this rate, the organization estimates that gender parity in national legislative bodies will not be achieved before the year 2063.