Second National Women Empowerment Rally Print E-mail
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Thursday, 10 March 2016 00:00

It has now been 21 years since the first world conference on women was held in Beijing, China in 1995 and women around the world continue to face some of the same challenges that were identified at that historic assembly. Equal pay for equal work; greater representation at the national decision making table; sexual, psychological and physical abuse; lack of employment opportunities; poor sexual and reproductive healthcare in rural communities and wide scale sexual exploitation are only some of the injustices that continue to plague women in Belize and across the globe. There have been gains in these areas but progress has been slow. This is why women around the world have decided to make a “Pledge for Parity” in celebration of International Women’s Day 2016. Here in Belize, women empowerment activists are celebrating IWD16 by organizing a massive rally on Friday, February 10.

The second 20,000 STRONG women empowerment rally will take place at the Marion Jones Stadium this Friday. According to Kim Simplis-Barrow, Special Envoy for Women and Children, “The 20,000 STRONG rally is a women’s movement geared towards empowering and celebrating women. It’s a renewal of the commitment to women by women. It’s a movement with a mission to ignite change in our society; change in how we think about women, change in how we feel about women, change in how we treat women and change in how women see themselves.”

Women from across the length and breadth of Belize are expected to participate. Individuals in Punta Gorda can call Lorraine Johnson at 636-3208 for transport information. In Stann Creek the person to call is Michelle Irving at 622-8671. In Belmopan the person to call is Lorna Jones at 663-7926. Elyne Serano’s for participants from Cayo is 636-8987. Particpants planning to travel from Orange Walk can call Mackesha Suazo at 602-4373. Sandra Reyes at 601-3671 has information on transportation from Corozal and Patty Arceo at 662-4447 has information on transportation from San Pedro and Caye Caulker.

Buses will roll into Belize City for a parade starting from the Memorial Park at 8 a.m. The parade will move through the streets of North Side Belize City from the Memorial Park, along the Marine Parade Boulevard unto Newton Barracks into Princess Margaret Drive and conclude at the Marion Jones Stadium. At the stadium, participants will have the opportunity to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of the women of Belize. There will be powerful speeches, uplifting poems, inspirational songs and other presentations.

Women entrepreneurs are at the core of this year’s 20,000 STRONG rally. Special Envoy Barrow says the “20-4-20 Women’s Economic Development Program” will be unveiled at the rally. This program has been developed to provide support for women in business, almost like a business incubator. The idea is to assure aspiring female entrepreneurs that they are not alone in their venture. The program was inspired by discussions which stemmed from the first 20,000 STRONG women empowerment rally.

Everyone is encouraged to attend the historic rally on Friday. Employers are asked to allow workers to visit the stadium at least for a couple hours. Men are welcomed to support as well. Those who cannot make it should wear orange as a sign of solidarity with the movement. T-shirts are available for sale. They can be purchased by calling the above mentioned names for information.