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Thousands of Women Expected to Gather at Marion Jones Stadium Print E-mail
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Written by Shane D. Willaims   
Friday, 07 March 2014 00:00

The Special Envoy for Women and Children, Kim Simplis-Barrow and the National Women’s Commission are organizing a rally the likes that have never been seen before in Belize on Thursday, March 6. Next year, will make it 20 years since the first world conference on women was held in Beijing, China in 1995 and the organizers of the rally are preparing to host 20,000 women at the Marion Jones Stadium to launch a march towards 2015. According to Anne-Marie Williams, Executive Director of the National Women’s Commission, the 20,000 Strong Women Empowerment Rally is “an opportunity for women to come out and become aware of their collective power.”

Buses will roll into Belize City from across the country for a rally scheduled to start at 10 a.m. Belize City women will meet at the Memorial Park at 8 a.m. and parade over to the Marion Jones Stadium with marching bands. 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 stadium, where Belize City women will join ladies from all corners of the country. At the stadium there will be powerful speeches, uplifting poems, inspirational songs and other presentations. There will be remarks from successful business leaders such as Marie Sharp and Sandra Bedran. There will be inspirational testimonies from women, who have defied odds and lived extremely successful lives despite being dealt difficult cards. Speeches will be delivered by women who have served the country in various capacities, including political champions. The keynote address will be delivered by Special Envoy Kim Simplis-Barrow.

Organizers hope that participants of the rally will leave with greater aspiration to attain the highest offices in the country and put their best put forward in whatever they do. Employers are being asked to support the initiative by allowing their employees to attend the rally. In offices where women are the majority and it would be difficult to let them all leave, the employer is being asked to allow a contingent to attend. Women and men are asked to wear orange on Thursday to show support for the cause of women empowerment. Orange is the colour associated with the UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign. The campaign was launched in 2008 by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon  to raise public awareness and increase political will and resources for preventing and ending all forms of violence against women and girls in all parts of the world.

The rally is set to kick off a series of activities that will be happening throughout the year. According to Williams, shortly after the rally, there will be a traveling exhibition that will feature some of Belize’s outstanding women in decision making, specifically business and political decision making. The live exhibition will feature women like the late Gwendolyn Lizarragua who was the first female Minister of Education. Jane Usher will also be a subject of the exhibition and other women who have paved the way for women in society today. This year, the Special Envoy and the National Women’s Commission will also be hosting capacity building training for women across the country. Even the topic of Women in Sports will be addressed. Presently, there are less opportunities for women participation in sports and the prizes are far less than that of the men, especially in cycling and football.

As we move into 2015 the women of Belize are filling out a report card on how Belize has lived up to the promises made by world leaders in Beijing almost 20 years ago.