Today a ceremony was held to induct fourteen members of the National
Women’s Commission. The Commissioners who are appointed by the Minister
of Human Development Eden Martinez include a group of highly skilled women and
men who will now embark on implementing an ambitious two year work plan of action.
A copy of that work plan was presented to Prime Minister Dean Barrow who delivered
the key note address. It is the first time in the twenty six year history that
the commission has an Executive Director who is Ann Marie Williams. Williams
told us that the role of the NWC is primarily to monitor and implement the convention
on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women and the national
gender policy. She explained the work that lies ahead.
Ann Marie Williams, NWC Executive Director
“What the Commission wants to do in and of its own self is to actually
look at disaggregated data. The United Nations Committee which is tasked to
actually look at CEDAW and see what your country is doing or not doing, tells
us that we need to take a more serious role and look at women’s contribution.
We’re also looking at things like perhaps a women’s manifesto; how
do we sensitize women as to what their voting for, how do we get women involved
in politics, trading, those type of things are the things we want to know.
Where domestic violence is concerned, the Women’s Commission works
closely with the Department, the Department is actually an implementing agency
of the Commission; they have a very robust anti-domestic violence program. Belize
has signed on to a pilot program that’s currently in the Caribbean known
as a Batters’ Prevention Program. It is only for men but we have found
over the years that by women being the victims and men aren’t treated,
women are re-victimized so that’s one of the many programs. There is also
education for women who’ve been victims of domestic violence. So the Women’s
Department will be rolling out an ambitious program pretty soon that we’ll
be able to partner with.
This is only the work plan now, we will have to sit down and say what areas
we will prioritize to get the funding to do. But where poverty is concerned,
we’re looking at rural projects but we don’t know exactly now what
are the projects until later in the year, until we get funding.”
The National Women’s Commission is chaired by Senator Esther