"Politics in Belize is still a man's world"April 3
Women in Belize are distinctly lacking from the high offices of government. It’s a far cry from the world of the mythical ‘Amazons’, writes 16-year-old Phaedra Mohammed-Ali.
Throughout the centuries, women have gradually proven themselves to be agents of change.
For the end of ‘Women’s Month’ in Belize, commemorated under the theme ‘valuing ourselves – promoting shared responsibility’, we reflect on the arrival of women as significant figures in society.
Women’s roles have slowly evolved from the typical stereotypes depicted in childhood storybooks – passive and dependent creatures who aspire only to lives of servitude to their husbands and children.
In such books, young girls grow up with the impression that the only occupations open up to them are being nurses, teachers or housewives. This stands in contrast to the male figure as the breadwinner, the fireman, the policeman and the household individual depended on the most.
In time however, women have changed from being subservient to men to being more outspoken, more innovative and ambitious.
Ever heard of the ‘Amazon women’? The Amazons were a nation of all-female warriors in Greek mythology. Though men were not entirely cast out, these women ‘wore the pants’ and were trained in agricultural pursuits, hunting and the art of war.
In modern day Belizean society, the ‘war’ fought by women is equality in the workplace and for shared responsibility.
Society tends to place things in such a way that men can do certain things that women cannot do. But there are those bold souls who challenge the ‘laws’ of society to become the first female Belizean mayor, like Mrs Zenaida Moya Flowers, or the best female lawyer in the land, Ms Lois Young. Modern-day Amazons.
Yet though women have ventured into different fields, they have not yet made significant strides in the political arena. While women make up the majority of Belize’s population, they have minimal to no representation in the governing body politic.
Throughout the history of Belize’s parliament, very few women have served in the national assembly. Their competence is still not valued highly enough to take charge of a critical department of the government. How long must we wait for a female Minister of Defence? Or Minister of Finance?
Through the efforts of the Women’s Department, women are being groomed to take on leadership roles, as in the ‘Women in Politics’ project. Women are being encouraged to take the front line when it comes to decision making, instead of the back seat as they have done before.
They are being taught to value their opinions in order to be strong and bold figures to society. But how can responsibilities be shared if the decisions of our country are made only by men?
The role of woman in society has changed, but her competence is still somewhat doubted. The ‘war’ will be fought time and time again.
Women have to constantly prove themselves worthy enough so that they may truly be valued and responsibilities equally shared.
Happy Women’s Month!
Note: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. All articles are published in a spirit of improving dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?