What is the National Women’s Commission?
Established in 1982, the National Women’s Commission of Belize (NWC) serves as an advisory body to the Government on issues relating to women. Its establishment was a part of an overall effort of the Government to meet a series of international commitments, commencing in 1975 when Belize participated in the First World Conference on Women, to improve the situation of the nation’s women and girls.
In 1990, Belize both signed and ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). This international ‘Bill of Rights’ for women sets standards and principles for the enjoyment of all civil, political, economic, cultural and social rights.
The National Women’s Commission is a body of individual women and men appointed by the Government to function as a strategic guidance and oversight mechanism for the achievement of gender equality, equity and women’s empowerment in Belize (GEEWE). The NWC falls under the portfolio of the Ministry of Human Development and Social Transformation.
Specifically, the National Women’s Commission has the mandate to:
- Serve as a strategic advisory body to the minister with responsibility for women and gender issues and to advocate for the fulfillment of the standards, principles and goals embodied within the Convention (CEDAW), the National Gender Policy and other relevant policies.
- Serve as national advocate on issues related to the upgrading of the situation of women and girls and to advocate on matters regarding compliance with, or implementation of, the Convention, the National Gender Policy and other relevant policies as they relate to government ministries, institutions and entities, etc.;
- Monitor and evaluate the implementation of the provisions of the Convention and ensure national submission of the Belize progress report to the UN Committee every four years.
- Promote public awareness and encourage effective and efficient planning and coordination efforts among relevant stakeholders on matters relating to gender equality, equity and women’s empowerment.
- Ensure that the appropriate implementation agencies undertake specific initiatives and tasks related to the implementation of the Convention, the National Gender Policy and other relevant policies.
- Recommend, through the minister, improvements in and development of national policies and legislation within the framework of the Convention, the National Gender Policy and other relevant policies.
The commission shall be comprised of members appointed by the Minister of Human Development and Social Transformation. The appointment shall include the Director of the Women’s Department and the Executive Director of the Women’s Issues Network (WIN-Belize) as ex-officio members.
- Membership shall be appointed for a term of two years, with the possibility of being re-appointed.
- Membership will include technical experts in the major thematic areas of intervention as set forth in the Convention, the National Gender Policy and other relevant policies.
- Other members shall serve in their personal capacity as commissioned by the Minister and not as delegates or representatives of organizations, institutions, or groups.
The Executive Committee
The executive of the commission shall comprise a chairperson to be appointed by the Minister, and a vice-chairperson, a secretary and a treasurer to be elected from among the members. The chairperson shall receive a stipend in recognition of her duties. Other commissioners receive no remuneration for their service.
Role of the Chairperson
The chair is responsible for providing the overall direction for the work of the Commission. The chairperson also oversees the work of the secretariat and acts as a resource person in the implementation of the commission’s Action Plan.
The commission shall be supported by a secretariat headed by an executive director. The commission may contract the services of other staff and technical experts as required for its effective and efficient operation.