Gender-based violence is recognized as one of the most serious forms of human rights violation and is a public health challenge for women and girls. It occurs at home, the workplace, schools, political circles, prisons and health institutions just to name a few with perpetrators ranging from intimate partners, family members, employers, co-workers and state officials.
In Belize, like the rest of the Caribbean, societies are organized around hierarchical gender power relations with male domination, reducing women's economic and emotional dependency. According to UN Women Caribbean, 1 in 3 women in the Caribbean experience domestic violence and over one-third of the region's women report intimate or sexual violence incidents.
Although several interventions and calls to action on gender-based violence and gender equality for men and boys, engagement in the discourse has been difficult. Men and boys need to become more visible as integral partners in tackling sexual / gender-based violence and gender inequality. There is the need to engage boys and men as agents of change in the prevention and response, not just perpetrators or bystanders.
So, to decrease incidence of gender-based violence, men and boys most become active participants. It is important to provide men and boys the platform to reflect, focus on themselves and a healthy society in order to increase their understanding of the dynamics of gender and violence and to become actively involved in reducing gender-based violence in Belize.
As a result, the National Women’s Commission is charged with the responsibility to provide oversight to the outcomes within the National Gender Policy and National Gender-basedViolence Action Plan that call for men’s and boys’ increased understanding of the dynamics of gender and violence and to be actively involved in reducing Gender-based Violence in Belize.
The Commission acknowledges violence against women is an issue of male dominance and unequal power, and that power and control are determined through culture, traditions and customs reflected and sustained by legal systems, the socialization process and different access to and control of resources. Therefore, the National Women’s Commission organizes and coordinate efforts relating to engagement of men and boys seek to address underlying cause such as the imbalance of power distribution which is usually leaning more towards men. It provides the space for men to focus on self, masculinity and what a healthy society looks like. It calls for activities to sensitization of men and boys on the role of gender, messages of masculinity, and men’s role in breaking the cycle of violence among other areas.