The Revised National Gender Policy 2013 has come under fire from several critics ever since the National Women’s Commission launched it on May 16.
But the Women’s Issues Network of Belize (WIN-Belize) has come out in full support of it, and said so in in a press release on Wednesday, July 16.
WIN Belize Director Carolyn Reynolds explained that their network is composed of several organizations which are working to help precisely those person who are suffering the effects of gender discrimination, so a consultation with their members reached a consensus to fully accept the new policy. The network’s member organizations are working with the persons who are most at risk and vulnerable.
Organizations in the network include Youth Enhancement Services, which is working to educate teenage girls who didn’t make into high school, especially teenaged mothers; the Young Women’s Christian Association, which has many programs to educate and empower women and give them income earning skills; the Belize Family Life Association – which is fighting teenage pregnancy, promoting reproductive health and working to reduce the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.
These and other organizations such as Haven House, CARE Belize, Alliance Against AIDS, Fajina Chairladies, Mary’s Open Doors, and the Productive Organization of Women in Action (POWA) area all working to eliminate the inequities in the system, to restore equality; they are where “the rubber meets the road” on these issues.
The network reaffirmed its commitment to work with the government of Belize in five priority areas to ensure that the people with the greatest need have access to the services provided and that they know the facts they need to know.
Top priority is health, but the other priorities are education and skills training, wealth creating jobs, addressing the conditions that cause violence and the power to be a part of the decision-making process that affects vulnerable populations.
WIN Belize also recognizes that our country is not a homogenous society; it takes all kinds to make a world so Belize needs a policy that addresses the issue of allowing ALL citizens to have access to the services provided.
The network’s release affirms that the 2013 national Gender Policy was based on the principles enshrined in the Belize Constitution, and also in compliance with many international conventions and agreement which the Government of Belize has signed on to and ratified.
WIN Belize regards the new policy as progressive in the way it promotes human rights, gender equality and equity.
The release further defined gender equality as implying the interests, needs and priorities of both women and men will be taken into consideration, while recognizing the diversity of different groups of women men. WIN Belize and its members see the issue of equality between women and men as both human rights issue and precondition for and an indicator of sustainable development that is people centered.
Of course not everyone is on board with the new policy, including several members within the church that have expressed several reservations.
The Council of Churches, while they have publicly stated that they won’t call for the entire document to be recalled, is consulting with its members to formulate a unified position to present to the government their recommendations for changes to the more controversial areas.
Others have singled out one clause of the policy that speaks to providing proper health care for men who have sex with men and have tarred the policy with the same brush they reserve for Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Transvestite (LGBT) community; they have openly rejected the policy.