Sixteen Days of Activism Begins Today
Today marks the beginning of the Sixteen Days of Activism geared at raising awareness to eliminate violence against women. A ceremony was held at the House of Culture in Belize City, followed by a march through the streets and ending with a vigil in front of the Supreme Court of Belize. Program Officer at National Women’s Commission, Eleanor Murillo, says each year events geared at bringing these issues to the forefront are held over the country to educate people about the negative societal impacts of these acts.
Eleanor Murillo, Program Officer, National Women’s Commission: “The 16 day period because today is as I said the International Day on the 25th and then we have Human Rights Day on December 10th so that gives us a 16 day period to amplify our efforts so we’re not saying that it’s only during this time we are out working it’s throughout the 365 however during this time we ramp up some of the education, the awareness, our visibility and so on to continue to spread awareness because we really want to see behavioral change in our society. We want people to stop normalizing violence. Early this year when some women were killed I remember reporters went downtown Belize city and I heard people saying oh that is normal, everybody gets beat. No I do not agree with that that’s not normal and everybody does not get beat and so we want to change some of these narratives that we have out there that they have normalized that it’s OK, it’s a private matter, it’s none of your business and so on. It’s everybody’s business because gender-based violence affects so much. It affects the children who live through that even if they are themselves not victims it’s their mother, their father they also experience and go through their own trauma with that.”
Minister of Human Development and Families, Dolores Balderamos-Garcia, highlights that this is an issue that has to be tackled on a multi-sectoral approach to achieve maximum efficacy.
Dolores Balderamos Garcia, Minister of Human Development: “We have to stop gender based violence. Stamp it out, do whatever we can to raise awareness. As you probably know I’m the Co-chair of the spotlight initiative steering committee along with Ms. Birgit Gersternberg of the United Nations and so all our United Nations partners, our EU partners and our own efforts here in country with the National Women’s Commission all our partners together with us we are signifying the importance on not only of the spotlight initiative but also of all our national efforts and so our ministers of government, the Prime Minister and cabinet everybody is pausing to signify the importance of this time period of course beginning today the International Day to End Violence Against Women and then ending on December 10th which is I believe that is international human rights day. It was the day that the Universal Declaration of human rights was given way back in 1948. Women’s rights and girls rights are human rights and we have to make sure that we raise awareness and give that the central importance that it calls for every day but especially during these 16 days of activism.”