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Despite criticism of the Belize Catholic Church, a first ever national Women’s rally, focusing on women empowerment, was staged today at the Marion Jones’ Stadium in Belize City. It drew thousands of women from all corners of the country and in a showing of mass participation and celebration; it was history in the making for women of Belize. Reporter Maria Novelo followed the story and filed the following report.

Screen_Shot_2014-03-06_at_8.18.45_PMMaria Novelo – Reporting

“Imagine Belize without Women”, that was the theme in which the rally was held. Women from all corners of Belize marched, joined hands, chanted, danced, laughed, celebrated and partook in the first ever National Women’s Empowerment rally which was spearheaded by the Special Envoy for Women and Children in collaboration with the National Women’s Commission. The mass event was one-of-its-kind that garnered support from Belizeans who stood in solidarity. It was evident that a seed of change was planted for a new Belize.

John Briceno- Orange Walk Central Area Rep.

“I believe that the women have contributed greatly to the development of this country and I think in many instances we don’t recognize the development that they have contributed to Belize. I think this is a great opportunity where we can highlight women and the contributions that they give to this country and for us to celebrate what they are all about.  The women population is about 50% of this country and we as a small country with limited resources, limited talent in this country we cannot afford to exclude the 50% of our population.”

Anne Marie Williams

“Belizean Women are energizes, there are no two ways about that, Belizean women have seen where as a group we are trying to make strives, strives that are long overdue and I think this is a Clarian call and a call to action for women have been waiting for.  Belizean women have lead in many faucets in our society from selling on the streets to teaching in the classrooms and they have been able to break the glass ceiling into the board room and you and I know well that although women excel in education particularly at tertiary level we don’t see those numbers translating politically, we don’t see them translating in the board room and yes the kind of work that the women’s commission is doing now and especial envoy office had it been done fifteen or twenty years ago we wouldn’t had been at this point.”

Maria Novelo – Reporter

“What do you estimate the number is of the turn out here today and you feel that the church was a deterrent?"

Anne Marie Williams

“Well, I didn’t really look and did had a count truly but the church was not a deterrent I think women came out to stand and if you look at it the superintendent of the Methodist church was actually marching so the Catholic church is the catholic church but you see a lot of catholic here, sister Karly Channona was the person who gave the invocation and so while once somebody is signing a letter and somebody is pushing an agenda people are saying is not with you and I think that that has been made abundantly clear.”

Jasmine Zetina- Supporter 

“I’m proud to be here honestly and the massive crowd that is here representing BTIA and the women of the north; Corozal and Orange Walk, so I can shout for all of them those that are not here.”

Maria Novelo – Reporter

“Obviously this is not a rent a crowd and you guys did not make the 20,000 strong but what did you feel about the turn out here?”

Jasmine Zetina- Supporter

“Like I said the people that are here their voices make up for the crowd that are not here but believe me the spirit, the enthusiasm, everything and the energy that they bring it is so incredible.”

Throngs of women were uplifted, empowered, rejuvenated and motivated with inspirational speeches from a plethora of dynamic speakers. And despite not meeting the 20,000 Strong in attendance, and much stringent criticism from the churches, Special Envoy Kim Simplis Barrow says it was a raging sensation.

Kim Simplis Barrow- Special Envoy For Women And Children

“Success, success like I said before it was only me walking today it would have been a success, like I told you yesterday the 20,000 is symbolic it would have been lovely and as you know of course a number of schools that had committed to come they cancelled at the last minute so that really put a damper on thins but we are here and I think we had a good crowd.”


“You think the catholic blockade of the event had an effect?”

Kim Simplis Barrow- Special Envoy For Women And Children 

“Definitely, yes they did because we certainly got cancellations, teachers felt intimidated, teachers were told that if they come they would be punished and they felt threatened so even if they wanted to come it was already a bad mood and so it did affect us and that is fine as you can see the messages out here were all about empowering women again I say the Bishop unfortunately was ill-advised because now that the rally is almost over the evidence is there that it was a rally about lifting our women and believing that we can as women.”

John Briceno- Orange Walk Central Area Rep.

“Now as to the Roman Catholic Church I am disappointed I am a Roman Catholic and I believe in my church but it is unfortunate that such release was given simply for the fact that I see this event this event is an opportunity where we celebrating women, we celebrating the contribution of the women to this country and I believe that we need to do more of those events.”

Patty Arceo- Supporter 

“What the People’s United Party has said it is their own words, I am here supporting a women’s rally and I am here supporting and giving voice to issues of San Pedro and Caye Caulker, I will the a guest speaker and two things that I will be discussing is about children, children in sicknesses what we are doing about them, the second one is very dear to my heart and is abuse of children, children being prostituted these are key issues these issues go beyond political line and these are things that affecting everyday our local communities and I want to send a strong message to government; I want them to start to come down and start addressing these issues not only in San Pedro and Caye Caulker but the rest of the country let us not confuse the women that are here, the women that are bringing issues, mu thing like I said is two issues that I am bringing in but there are many issues and this is a platform that we can present them and I honestly hope that government is listening because  at the end of the day if we don’t take care of our future which is our children then we cannot expect our future to take of us.”

And while the rally cost a pretty penny; over 200K approximately, one thing was clear.


“Imagine Belize without women I simply can’t, but what I do know is that we are here to show that we are prepared to stand together to increase our influence in the life of our country.  If I have to I can do anything for I am strong, I am invincible, I am woman.”

The Women’s Commission along with the Special Envoy for Women and Children will be developing a national multiyear agenda for advancing the right of women and improvement of family life in Belize.

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