From the Kitchen to Parliament Print E-mail
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Thursday, 03 November 2011 00:00

Kitchen to Parliament discussion participantsOn Wednesday November 2nd the McField Conference Center of the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry Building on Coney Drive, a national dialog on the present situation of women in Politics was carried out. Prominent Belizean women who have entered into the political arena met with different organizations, such as Women Issues Network and the Caribbean Institution for Women in Leadership. Also in attendance was an assortment of female students from Edward P. Yorke High School.

The theme of the discussion was “From the Kitchen to Parliament: Are Women Really Participating?” It encompassed personalities such as Carolyn Trench Sandiford, Anne-Marie Williams, Audrey Matura Shepherd, and Sharon Marin, who all gave presentations on their experiences in the area.

Sharon Marin, TV/Radio Talk-show host, gave the opening address where she presented the challenges of women currently in politics, and the current status of women politicians.

Carolyn Reynolds, Executive Director of Women Issues Network, opened the discussion on the topic of national and international commitments to gender equality.

The next presenter who spoke was Anne-Marie Williams, Executive Director of the National Women’s Commission. Williams presented to the gathering what is the status of and challenges of the “Women in Politics” project.

 The next topic discussed was the current woman’s perspective on campaign financing, which was done by Attorney Audrey Matura Shepherd. She discussed the current inequalities present in the political parties that occur when women try to secure financing for their campaign.

Another issue that was discussed was the owning of  a woman’s current place in their political parties. This discussion was led by Carolyn Trench Sandiford, Deputy Leader of the People’s United Party, and Earth Lopez, a councilor candidate for the United Democratic Party’s 2012 municipal Elections.  

The final section of the dialog was based on the presentation of Jay Coombs, Program Officer for the United Nations Development Program. Coombs discussed the new UNDP project in Gender and Politics. This project is expected to run in collaboration with the National Woman’s Commission’s current “Women in Politics” program.

Strong points and proposals that the presenters made were the ideas that the constitution should be amended to accommodate a mandatory 30% of elected officials being women, legislation to level the playing field when it comes to funding for the genders, and legislation to limit the amount of funds for campaigns which will limit corruption from special interests.