Remarks - Situation Analysis of Gender and Politics in Belize
A pleasant good morning to all.
Firstly, I am pleased to congratulate the Government of Belize, in its endeavours to fulfill its commitment as a member of the United Nations with efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The Government has embedded achievement of MDGs in its strategic vision including through national efforts to reduce poverty.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) continues to be ready to support the Government in achieving the goals, particularly those that Belize is not on track to achieve, including gender goals expressed in MDG3.
Challenges faced by all Belizeans, but more acutely by women, include poverty and education. A known element is that women and girls living in rural areas are less likely to benefit from education and employment since resources tend to target those living in urban centers.
In Belize, women also face significant challenges of being represented at the highest levels of political and leadership. The participation of women in political leadership and decision-making is a requirement as a matter of justice since women represent half of the world’s population and are an essential component to any Government which claims to be representative and responsive. Their inclusion is a hallmark of a functioning democracy as without the views, experiences and perspectives of women at this level, there exists a significant democratic deficit. Ending gender inequality and enhancing gender justice are the critical foundations to meeting the MDG commitments and the Millennium Declaration principles.
UNDP IS COMMITTED to supporting national efforts to strengthen the institutionalization of women’s participation in political leadership at the highest levels. Women’s participation in national development should not be limited to formal political representation only but should also include participation and influence in national decision-making. Identifying spaces for women in policy-making forums and establishing mechanisms that facilitate women’s meaningful participation is essential if their voices and needs are to be heard and addressed.
The Government is to be commended for its acknowledgement of this critical governance issue and its subsequent collaboration with UNIFEM through its Ministry of Human Development to lead the Flagship “Women in Politics” Project that has been actively training women and preparing them for national political leadership. Another investment that merits acknowledgement is the continued support to the work of the National Women’s Commission over the years.
In recognition of the need for a contemporary and change-making initiative to take place to change the issue of women’s political empowerment, the United Nations Development Programme and the National Women’s Commission last year proceeded to assemble a broad platform of partners including international organizations, government institutions, political parties, NGOs and civil society at large to launch a sustained advocacy strategy to achieve the MDG 3 target of 30% of women in parliament by and beyond 2015.
It is my great pleasure to commend the Commission, the Government of Belize, and the Consultant and to PRESENT the Toward Equality of Opportunity for Equality of Results: Situation Analysis of Gender and Politics in Belize, today.