Hon. Sylvia Flores is Special Envoy’s Trailblazer of the Week Print E-mail
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Wednesday, 30 April 2014 00:00

In this week’s edition of “Trailblazer Tuesdays”, the Special Envoy for Women and Children, Mrs. Kim Simplis Barrow, is recognizing Mrs. Sylvia Flores for her contributions to national development as a politician and educator:

Sylvia Flores should be well-known to you. She is a former Minister of Defence and National Emergency Management as well as a former Minister of Human Development and Women. In 1988, representing the People’s United Party, she was appointed the first woman Mayor of Dangriga and was subsequently elected to serve a second term.

In 1998, Mrs. Flores became the first woman Speaker of the House of Representatives. Among other responsibilities, she was tasked with maintaining the Standing Orders and Parliamentary Procedures amongst representatives who were not always particularly well behaved—and 27 of the 29 were men! She also served Belize as President of the Senate.

In the General Elections of 2003, she became the first woman elected as the representative from Dangriga. It was then that she was named Minister of Defence and National Emergency Management. As Defence Minister, she secured additional funding and support for the Belize Defence Force and partnered with the U.S. Embassy to strengthen national security and drug eradication. In 2005, she was named Minister of Human Development and Women.

As the Minister with primary responsibility for women’s rights, she made immense contributions in areas of women’s advancement and gender equality and was instrumental in revising the Domestic Violence Act, which assesses stiffer penalties for perpetrators of violence against women and girls.

After retiring from public service, she returned to Dangriga, and her first love - teaching. Mrs. Flores taught Spanish at the Stann Creek Ecumenical High School and Economics at the junior college for a total of twenty-six years. She also taught both Spanish and English for five consecutive years, for free, when the management of Delille Academy had no funds to pay teachers. Besides teaching, she also raised funds to enable girls to attend classes and meet the cost of books. She was recognized in 2013 as Belize’s Woman of the Year by the Embassy of the United States. Mrs. Flores will be the first to tell you, that there’s no greater joy than helping young women to realize their potential and be independent women.