Posted: Friday, September 15, 2023. 1:51 pm CST.
By Zoila Palma Gonzalez: On September 13, 2023, the Government of Belize honored 25 distinguished persons at this year’s Tribute to Belizean Patriots ceremony.
𝑮𝒘𝒆𝒏𝒅𝒐𝒍𝒚𝒏 𝑴𝒂𝒓𝒈𝒂𝒓𝒆𝒕 𝑳𝒊𝒛𝒂𝒓𝒓𝒂𝒈𝒂 (𝑴𝒂𝒅𝒂𝒎 𝑳𝒊𝒛) (𝑷𝒐𝒔𝒕𝒉𝒖𝒎𝒐𝒖𝒔𝒍𝒚) was honored with the Order of Belize for contributions to Community Service.
Madam Liz was born in Maskall Village on July 11, 1901. She was educated at Mr. Datsun Primary School, St. Mary’s Primary School and St. Catherine’s Academy.
Gwendolyn was a mother, activist, politician, businesswoman, and successful chicle and mahogany contractor.
Unlike the typical woman in the early 1900s, she wore pants, carried a gun, publicly smoked cigarettes, and even drove a Land Rover.
Before her political career, she formed the United Women’s Group to assist women in unfortunate conditions and help the sick and the poor.
Madam Liz was the co-founder of United Women’s Credit Union, and even if a woman could only afford to save 25 cents per week, she encouraged them to save.
Gwendolyn Lizarraga was first elected in 1961 and became the Minister of Education, Housing and Social Services, representing the Pickstock Division.
She was the first woman to be elected to the National Assembly and the first woman minister.
In her second term, in 1965, she served again with the same portfolio and assisted people in acquiring their housing lots. She was responsible for the building of low-cost homes in King’s Park, Lake Independence and Queen’s Square areas. Under her ministry, the first junior secondary school was established in 1968.
Madam Liz was awarded the Member of the British Empire (M.B.E.). To honour her name and legacy, the Gwen Liz High School and several streets throughout the country bear her name.
Gwendolyn Lizarraga passed away on June 9, 1975. Pallbearers for her funeral at Lord’s Ridge Cemetery included Premier Hon. George Price and Deputy Premier Hon. Carl Lindbergh Rogers.
The award was received by her grandson, Dr. Victor Lizarraga.
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