Women in BelizeCelebrating Women's Wisdom, Worth & Ways
The women of the Cayo District, in all their wonderful diversity, have one thing in common: a long history of nurturing their families in ways that have grown out of their Belizean traditions.
The Women's Program honors that tradition and builds upon it to empower women with the skills and knowledge of the 21st century. Empowering them helps them to help their families, and carries over to the health and well-being of the larger community. By benefiting women, the Women's Program benefits society as a whole.
Issues That Affect Women's DevelopmentFinancial dependency
The tradition of women devoting their lives to caring for home and children results in financial dependence on their partners. The current prevalence of alcohol and drug addiction stresses the unreliability of too many fathers and husbands as sources of support. Some withhold money to demonstrate their power, some are unable to earn enough for the family's needs, and some simply leave. Even when a woman is a significant participant in a family business, her contribution tends to be undervalued or unrecognized. Sometimes for the sake of family stability, and sometimes because she doesn't understand her rights under the law, it is rare that a woman demands the support that is due her.
Inadequate education and vocational skills
If a family cannot afford to keep their children in school, girls are the first to be withdrawn. They are not expected to be the future breadwinners. Once out of school, girls are more likely to focus on getting married and having their own children.
Size of families
The average village family has eleven children, and the average town family has five. Because most schools are religiously affiliated, family planning is not taught. The limited family planning facilities that exist are in towns, restricting easy access by village women.
Domestic violence is a taboo subject in Belize. There is little public awareness and less community response, even though a 1998 study by the Belize Organization for Women and Development revealed the astonishing statistic that one in every two women is domestically abused. In reality, the actual figure may be even higher, since abuse often goes unreported. Most women don't know they have legal rights. Even those who do tend to be reluctant to go to the authorities because of shame, fear of gossip and of retaliation from the perpetrator.