Some 3,500 women turned out for the 20,000 women rally in Belize. Before the rally, 1,700 persons paraded along Marine Parade, Newtown Barracks and Princess Margaret Drive from the Memorial Park to Marion Jones Stadium for the Women’s Empowerment Rally.
Organizer and Special Envoy for Women and Children Kim Simplis Barrow says she was very satisfied with the rally, despite the numbers.
“This is a women’s empowerment rally. It is about celebrating women as we are, about our successes and our failures and about our individuality. This is about women coming together under one orange umbrella that stands against violence against women. I am sorry if people are misguided and they are clothed by their mind and they can’t see beyond the Gender Policy and abortion and there are so many issues out there that I wish all institutions would take up. But today, this is about women, this is about celebrating ourselves as women; about us who have come forward to be role models in our country- nothing else”.
There were a number of well-known women and women activists among this morning’s marching crowd. We caught up with a few.
“Because I am a woman and I believe in woman empowerment”.
Reporter: “Any other reason why you are out here? What response do you have in terms of the churches not supporting this march?”
Ms. Janelle Channona: “I believe that any initiative and any empowerment that promotes empowerment of a Belizean, deserves to be supported and this effort is to support the empowerment of women and as a woman, I am proud to stand in solidarity with all women in all roles- church home, school- everywhere”.
Mrs. Diane Finnegan: “My purpose of being out here is to hear the message that is to be said about women of strength and of worth today and for my youths, my girls to be a part of ..I think that it is important for them to learn more about their own role as woman, and I think today, it will be a day when we will hear different messages from different people and they will be able to take from it to continue to empower and uplift themselves”.
The rally had a budget of $270,000. The primary source of funding for the event came from the Oak Foundation, which has been known for its funding of environmental issues and most recently for the promotion of the LGBT agenda in Belize.
Numerous churches including the Catholic, Adventist, Nazarene, and Baptist denominations had boycott the rally because of concerns about some of the other issues that the National Women’s Council promotes.