Belize National Assembly establishes Women Parliamentarians Caucus
Women Parliamentarians in the National Assembly of Belize have agreed to the establishment of a new Women Parliamentarians Caucus.
The proposal received overwhelming support by women Parliamentarians of both the House of Representatives and the Senate who committed to establishing a formal structure of the caucus as well as engaging with the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians (CWP) network of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) and with ParlAmericas for technical assistance and expertise.
Many Commonwealth Parliaments feature a Women Parliamentarians Caucus as a space for women Parliamentarians from different political parties to unite in solidarity in championing and promoting women's empowerment, advocating for policy and legislative priorities for women, strengthening women's voices in Parliaments, encouraging gender perspectives in the day-to-day operations of the Parliament, and raising awareness of the importance of gender equality and inclusion.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives of Belize and the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians Steering Committee Member for the CPA Caribbean, Americas and Atlantic Region, Hon. Valerie Woods stated:
"Given the fact that this is the first time we have so many women in Parliament, it is timely that Belize considers this establishment as has occurred in other Parliaments in our region. There are common objectives, despite differences in political affiliations or views, that a multipartisan, bi-cameral caucus can rally around and support. While the establishment of such caucuses is almost often led by women, it does not exclude the engagement of the men in Parliament. On the contrary, the support by male colleagues in Parliament is critical to address gender equality issues."
The President of the Senate of Belize, Senator Hon. Carolyn Trench-Sandiford added:
"It is important that the gender perspective in development issues is considered, and a women's caucus is a tool that is used in parliaments to ensure that decision making considers this and amplifies the call for our women parliamentarians' voices to be heard."
Above: The first meeting of the Women Parliamentarians Caucus at the National Assembly of Belize was attended by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Valerie Woods; the President of the Senate, Hon. Carolyn Trench-Sandiford; Hon. Dolores BalderamosGarcia; Hon. Elvia Vega-Samas; Hon. Isabel Bennett; Hon. Elena Smith; Hon. Sheena Pitts; and Hon. Erica Jang.
Currently, Belize has a total of four women elected to the House of Representatives, four women appointed as Senators, and two women serving as Presiding Officers. Collectively, women parliamentarians account for 22% of the National Assembly. While this is the greatest number of women serving in Parliament in the history of Belize, women are still a minority in Parliament.
In November 2021, a team from the CPA Headquarters Secretariat visited Belize to provide technical assistance for parliamentary strengthening, including the facilitation of a one-day workshop with Women Parliamentarians of the National Assembly of Belize and key civil society stakeholders.
Read more about the workshop in this blog by Hon. Tracy Ann Panton, a Member of the House of Representatives at the National Assembly of Belize.
The Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians (CWP) was founded in 1989 to increase the number of female elected representatives in 180 Parliaments and Legislatures across the Commonwealth and to ensure that women’s issues are brought to the fore in parliamentary debate and legislation. The network campaigns for gender equality in all spheres.
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