Special Envoy backs women cyclists in Federation dispute

Posted: February 8, 2016. 6:50 p.m. CST.

By Aaron Humes: The Special Envoy for Women and Children has come out in solidarity with professional cyclist Kaya Cattouse who on social media earlier this month decried the Cycling Federation’s decision not to include the female and junior cyclists in their 2nd anual Digicell Valentine’s Tour. Her comments got her a threat of suspension from the Federation which cited lack of funding as the reason for the exclusion. Kaya Cattouse

Dion Leslie who is the President of the Federation said the females and Juniors would have their own respective race as part of the activities around the Valentine’s event and added that later in the Cycling calender, they would get their own tour.

In a release today, Mrs. Kim Simpliss Barrow says quote “Allowing only the male elite cyclists to participate in this annual event, which previously included female riders, highlights the gender inequality that continues to be rampant in sports in Belize. With most sporting disciplines already being male-dominated, it is imperative that we encourage increased female participation rather than exclusion.

Kim Simpliss BarrowFemale participation in sports at all levels is an issue that warrants national discussion and Mrs. Simplis Barrow calls on the Belize Cycling Association as well as all other sporting associations to take deliberate actions to develop women’s sports in Belize. The Special Envoy also encourages women to support each other as we strive to meet our goals of gender equality in all realms, including sports.” End quote.

Mrs. Simplis Barrow has saluted Kaya Cattouse, Patricia and Paulita Chavarria, Shalini Zabaneh, Alicia Thompson, Gabrielle and Gina Lovell and all other female cyclists for quote “breaking down barriers in one of the most male dominated sports in Belize.” End quote.

On Friday, senior counsel Lisa Shoman representing Kaya Cattouse wrote a letter to the Federation telling them that they erred by recommending sanctions when they failed to properly notify Kaya of what behaviour led to their complaint. She added that neither was she given an opportunity to be heard thus violating her right to natural justice.

We checked but have not gotten a response as to whether the Federation has answered Shoman.

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