The YWCA of Belize Addresses Gender Based Violence

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Witnessing the significant increase in Gender Based Violence in the country, and thanks to a Power to Change Fund grant, the YWCA of Belize was able to carry out a project to address this issue, from October 2013 to August 2014.

With the aim to become a leading service provider, the YWCA of Belize offered multi-faceted community-based programmes which focused on the development and empowerment of women and girls. In addition, through advocacy and awareness campaigns, the association seeks to help reduce the number of incidents of HIV/AIDS and violence against women, as well as improve the life choices and life styles of young women and girls through leadership training and youth group initiatives to build self confidence and self reliance.

Outreach activities on gender-based violence, conducted with various educational institutions, using a violence toolkit which was especially developed for this programme, were conducted by the YWCAs in Belmopan, Belize City, Dangriga and Sittee River in various schools and organisations. As a result, the 200 youth who participated in the trainings (10 women, 90 young women under 30, 74 girls, 26 boys) were fully sensitised to the issue.  The major impact of the trainings was to develop a better understanding of the common forms of violence and their implications on victims, their families and the community. Participants were very engaging in sharing their feelings and views on gender based violence and asked a number of questions on topics including sexual abuse and human trafficking.

In addition, 488 urban and rural women and youth were trained in life skills with a special emphasis on women and girls’ empowerment. These income generating trainings even attracted some parents and community members and leaders, adding to their impact as information would thus be passed on to their children and the community at large. Although the targeted audience was high school and out of school individuals, surprisingly, several very young participants, between 5-8 years old, also participated, and the content had to therefore be adapted accordingly on the spot.

The YWCA of Belize will use the information compiled from the training and share it with the other organisations involved, which include the Women’s Department, Women’s Issues Network and other YWCA partners.

As a result of the enthusiasm and positive impact of this project, the YWCA of Belize plans to raise the required funds in order to continue these activities so as to help their community fight against all forms of gender based violence.