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The PUP must do better to support women candidates

Posted: Thursday, May 31, 2018. 8: 30 a.m. CST.

The views expressed in this article are those of the writer and not necessarily those of Breaking Belize News.

By Lisa Shoman: Thea Garcia Ramirez is right. The issue is one of critical importance to our nation. This is our political #MeToo moment.

The PUP’s National Executive, its second highest governing body, according to a Channel 5 News report, “heard from Thea Garcia Ramirez of Corozal, the first female chair of the Northern Caucus and Corozal Bay executive. After losing a convention for standard bearer, Garcia Ramirez is standing down from both positions. But before her exit, she gave a review of her experience as a woman in politics in the P.U.P. Garcia Ramirez told her fellow members that the party needs to seriously work on making women equal in the party and that the P.U.P. is a long way from the constitutionally mandated thirty percent threshold of women’s participation.”

I have seen a copy of her report and she is right. 10 % is not good enough and the party faces the prospect of having No women as standard bearers. It would be the first time in decades, and a seriously retrograde step for the PUP, home of the oldest political women’s group in Belize.

Years ago group of PUP women, including the UWG (me too) insisted that the PUP worked diligently to put into the Party Constitution, the requirement of 30% representation of women in all party organs and positions. This was in keeping with UN suggested guidelines at the time.

This was never meant as a maximum commitment. It was meant to be a minimum. So committed were we to this ideal, that we met with and challenged our UDP counterparts to do the same in their party. They rose to it, and succeeded. It is also a requirement in the UDP Party Constitution now.

Last electoral cycle, in 2015, the UDP ran the most female candidates for General Election that it ever has, and kudos to them.

Many countries such as neighboring Mexico, in fact have legislated the requirement that political parties must have a minimum quota of female candidates and this generally starts at 30 %.

You can argue all you want that “any woman” isn’t the solution, but I challenge you…isn’t the same true of men? We all deserve the best candidates and right now, men do get preferential treatment in all political parties in Belize. They are nurtured and mentored.

No Change for the better in our governance can occur without the active political participation of Belizean women at the highest level. I believe this with all my fibre. I believe this so much that I offered myself as a candidate. I did not succeed but like Thea Garcia Ramirez, I tried my very best.

I can say a lot about the stubbornly, troglodytic and patriarchal nature of party politics in Belize, but that is less important than this: we need women as candidates for Area Rep in all political parties in Belize and at a minimum – not maximum- of 30%.

Thea is right. It is time to walk the walk. I am fortunate and will pay tribute to two Party Leaders with whom I have served who have always supported and believed in the women of the PUP – Said Musa and Francis Fonseca.

No political party can hope to claim that it represents Belizeans if it does not mentor, nurture and press forward with the promotion of women at all levels of its internal structure and the nation’s elected positions.

I’m not an advocate for women only when it is comfortable and non-partisan.

Today, I want it known. Even within my own political home, I’m a known troublemaker. Today I’m stepping outside of the tent, by choice, to say loudly and publicly, that all political parties, ALL must do better by the women of Belize.

It is our right.

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