By Senator Elizabeth Bennett
I am extremely happy to report that the Caribbean Women and Leadership Belize National Chapter formation meeting was held on Tuesday 22nd September as scheduled via zoom. We had in attendance 29 women strong who are supporting both political parties – UDP and PUP, and other institutions in Belize. Of course this number of attendees is nowhere close to what we should have had given the large number of women who are actively involved directly or indirectly in politics in Belize. But even with only 29 interested women in the virtual meeting, Belize was still congratulated for our high attendance in comparison to other Caribbean states.
So, to my mind, the 29 strong interested women therefore speak to our desire to understand the political process better and it also expresses the desire to empower ourselves and other women. This regional organization promises to provide high level transformational training to fully prepare women to enter politics or get best at politics in an effort to obtain gender equality in government. This is an initiative that I prayed about and so I am extremely happy for those who had the vision to give the mentorship, support and training of women like myself who are passionately interested in true and honest service to our nation. A few follow up meetings are scheduled in an effort to review guiding documents related to the regulation of the chapter.
So well in advance of the birth of CIWiL in Belize, I knew for certain, that I had to do what I had to do – the hard work in preparation for my political career. And as the many discourse continues on different topics related to women in politics – quotas – being one of the main one, I have become even more politically astute as I knew that I needed to position myself in preparation for what is to come. This discipline began with in depth review of different online political journals and women magazines as well as the study of laws in Belize. This is fundamental for survival when launching into the world of politics whether as a male or female. Here are some interesting pros and cons on whether the quotas for women in politics is a good idea or not.
Ultimately you decide as a woman whether you have prepared yourself enough and have the family and mentorship support to join the ranks of those who dare to serve one’s country.
The full article can be read here http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/01/are-quotas-for-women-in-politics-a-good-idea/251237/
-Quotas for women do not discriminate, but compensate for actual barriers that prevent women from their “fair share” of the political seats.
-Quotas imply that there are several women together in a committee or assembly, thus minimizing the stress often experienced by the token women.
-Women have the right as citizens to equal representation.
-Women’s experiences are needed in political life.
-Election is about representation, not educational qualifications.
-Women are just as qualified as men, but women’s qualifications are downgraded and minimized in a male-dominated political system.
-It is in fact the political parties that control the nominations, not primarily the voters who decide who gets elected.
-Introducing quotas may cause conflicts, but only temporarily.
-Quotas are against the principle of equal opportunity for all, since women are given preference.
-Quotas are undemocratic, because voters should be able to decide who is elected.
-Quotas imply that politicians are elected because of their gender, not because of their qualifications and that more qualified candidates are pushed aside.
-Many women do not want to get elected just because they are women.
-Introducing quotas creates significant conflicts within the party organization.