REPORT #207 March 2000

Produced by the Belize Development Trust

What qualification is necessary?

In the recent news of last week, the Belmopan government Press Office announced a program for the aid of unemployed women. To help women who are disadvantaged, taken advantage of and lack opportunities to change their fate. This project is an educational training skills project done with the assistance of one of those foreign assistance gimmicks.

In a recent report, it was pointed out that the two most disadvantaged women groups in Belize where the females of the traditional cultural Mayan communities in the Toledo Hills. Who according to thousands of years of culture are regarded in many cases as chattel, much like a mule. The custom is to arrange marriages via marriage brokers. The woman often has no choice and is trained through life to be subservient at the beck and call of the male. Violence is the result if she balks.

The other group are the Creole females of the major port town, who have lost their extended family, three generational support through the last 3 or 4 generations since small town colonial times.

This training program therefore, one would think, would concentrate on the needs of economic training, opportunity and independence for both of these two groups of women. To give them some opportunity of economic earnings and skills to create a sort of independence and free choice. Alas, like so many foreign funded, or partnership projects of this ilk in Belize, the news release from Belmopan mentioned that Belize City the port town would be the main recipient. Of the Toledo Hills female problems in the Mayan traditional community, no mention was given. One would think in the nature of a sincere project, that the traditonally culturally enslaved women of the Mayan Toledo Hills would be given the first opportunity to create conditions that would give them choices, make them valuable to their families and find some sort of financial measure of respect. But alas, like always, it is the port town of Belize City that gets the attention, the spending of funds, the education, the trickle down effect of such financial influences.

The draining of all resources to foster the port town of Belize City population is a real problem in building a nation. There are six districts, a dozen communities the size of towns, and around 288 to 300 villages nationwide. This is the same story with the preponderance of the port town population always claiming that they ARE Belize the nation. That what they want is what Belize wants and needs. Not so say many! Many are the localized organizations in this port town that bandy around the title of the 'National' this, or 'National' that. Yet they are neither national or anything else, other than some small town organization, with perhaps a branch or two in several other district towns.

What pray tell, would be a qualification for using a National representation in the title of an organization? Should it be based on the number of branches you have nationwide? Perhaps if you have 1/4 of the communities in the country with branches? Say 70 branches before you are entitled to call yourself NATIONAL anything? Or should it be 1/2 of the communities in the NATION of Belize, before you are entitled to call yourself a National Organization of any kind?

It is the same with this training educational program just announced by Belmopan. To help the disadvantage economic welfare of women in Belize. Should this training program have about 5 centers in the Toledo Hills? In order to be allowed to function? Or should it have a minimum of 70 nationwide community training programs to be allowed to function? Or is it that the port Belize City gets all this stuff, sufficient? We all know that these outside grants and training programs concentrating on the old colonial capital and port is just a scam game to finance foreign mediocre bureaucrats and local intellectuals in the port and give a little boost to the port town finances and economy. How about a change of pace? How about a requirement that they have training programs in at least 1/4 of the communities nationwide for a change? Do some real good, instead of this jokey stuff. Let's get serious about building a nation?

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