President of the National Women’s Commission of Belize Ann-Marie Williams joins a prestigious group of scholars from around the world as the first Belizean winner of the Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship, named after the former U.S. Vice President and Senator. Ann-Marie Williams is preparing to leave for Washington, D.C., where she will be studying on human trafficking. We caught up with her today.
“I have registered at American University, Washington College of Law. I’ll be doing Trafficking in Persons Policy and Prevention with Law. I’ve already signed up for four courses in the Fall. I’ll be doing Gender and International Law; Trafficking in Persons and International law; Displaced Persons, Immigration and How it Relates to Law; and International Human Rights Advocacy Law. So those are what I’ll be doing in the Fall. In the Spring, for my professional development, will be travelling to different places, and doing speaking engagements, and visiting lots of different sites and places in D.C. Thjis is not just academic training per se, it’s a opportunity to meet and network with some of the movers and shakers of Washington D.C., because it has a lot of leadership and also public service. So this is a tremendous opportunity.”
While Ms Williams’ studies will include gender and international law,she will be on leave from the National Women’s Commission, but she says her going away to study will not hinder the implementation of the controversial gender policy that she has championed. In fact, Ann-Marie Williams says her studies will better equip her on these “human rights” issues and when she returns, the process should be on full speed ahead. Ms Williams was asked if she was concerned in any way about the Occupy Belmopan activity happening at the National Assembly in protest of the Gender Policy and the calling for its total withdrawal.
“The Prime Minister already said that he will not withdraw the Gender Policy, ‘Not on earth,’ his exact words. We’ve requested a meeting with him to [go] further with deliberations, and so until that time, I’m not in a position to speak. I am waiting to hear from him. So they’re free to do pretty much what they want. The commission is headed by a chair and a board, and we are in the process of having someone to hold over for me for the year. I think when I come back, I’ll be in a better position to aid in this implementation.”
Prime Minister Dean Barrow has conceded amendments to the Policy and the Council of Churches and Evangelical Association of Churches are supposedly working with him on that. But barring that, Ann-Marie Williams remains confident the policy will be implemented.