A meeting took place today at the headquarters of the Belize National Teachers’ Union between Prime Minister Dean Barrow and the Council of Management of the BNTU over the revised National Gender Policy.
This follows a statement that the union issued this week in which it expressed concerns over the implications of the revised document and called on the Government to immediately halt any further action on the policy.
Following today’s meeting, Prime Minister Barrow told reporters that he sought the meeting with the BNTU leadership to go over the policy line by line to try and persuade them that the policy is “rooted in Government’s determination to remove inequality between men and women to…empower women”, and that too is rooted in Government’s determination to ensure that all citizens under Belize’s Constitution and laws are protected.
The PM said that he views the Policy as a first-rate, excellent and necessary policy and he emphatically said that he will not remove it.
Barrow did say, however, that if there are some sections or wording of the Policy that could conceivably give rise to misinterpretation, he would be happy to contemplate rewording.
The BNTU Council of Management will review their discussion with the Prime Minister, after which it will consult with its general membership for a position on the document.
Barrow said that all agreed that the rationale for the policy and the overarching objective of the policy are both excellent things and that he has gotten no objection from any other sector over the Policy.
The PUP, however, is the other sector that has made its concerns known over the revised Policy.
Its leader, Francis Fonseca, also told the media this afternoon that while the policy is generally a good one, with many good objectives, with “a very progressive aspirational approach to the future development of our society”, teachers and the churches have also raised the issue with his party over the language used in the document and some of the objectives therein.
Fonseca has called for three things: a withdrawal of the policy in its current form; give the churches and teachers enough time to have a comprehensive review of the document, and then offer specific recommendations on how they believe it can be refined and again revised before it is re-tabled and approved.
However, given the level of conviction with which the Prime Minister spoke following his meeting with the BNTU leadership, recalling and re-tabling another revised Gender Policy might not happen.