Sylvia Flores, US Embassy’s Woman of the Year

International Woman’s Day is celebrated and most countries are committing to the creation of opportunities for women and to end violence and discrimination.  In Belmopan, a ceremony hosted by the US Embassy took place to pay homage to outstanding women. Ten notable females from many walks of life were nominated and one very accomplished woman was selected for her stellar work and accomplishments in public life. Duane Moody reports.


Duane Moody, Reporting

The fourth annual Belize Woman of the Year Award Ceremony was held today as customary at the residence of U.S. Ambassador to Belize, Vinai Thummalapally. Taking the esteemed title this year is former Minister of Defense and National Emergency Management as well as Human Development, Dangriga resident, Sylvia Flores.


Sylvia Flores, Belize Woman of the Year

“There are many women and men in my community and around our country who join with me in expressing gratitude and appreciation to the Embassy of the United States of America and to the selection committee for having granted me this privilege and honor of being designated the United States Embassy’s Belize Woman of the Year. I thank you. It is most certainly my honor to have been part of the cadre of very qualified Belizean women who were nominated for this award. You are women who I respect greatly and for whom i hold great admiration because you are women who have an abiding sense of self-worth; have contributed significantly to the empowerment and advancement of our Belizean women and girls.”


Apart from wearing the hat as minister, Flores was a teacher in Stann Creek for over twenty-six years teaching Spanish and English; Flores is known for assisting young women to realize their potential. And from a list of ten nominees, a panel of judges selected Flores as the award winner.


H.E. Vinai Thummalapally, U.S. Ambassador

“It is vital to recognize those that give selflessly to others. The women before us have set the standard for their fellow Belizeans. Our event in Belize represents part of a large U.S. effort to represent gender equality and empower women and girls in America and abroad. It is not only the right thing to do, but also the smart thing to do.  The U.S. Government has launched a multilateral initiative to expand women’s political and economic participation; to develop a strategy to prevent and respond to violence against women and to promote the inclusion of women in conflict resolution and peace processes.”


Executive Director of the National Women’s Commission, Ann-Marie Williams also spoke to the gathering; rightly so since today is recognized as International Women’s Day.


Ann-Marie Williams, Executive Director, Nat’l Women’s Commission

“The idea of an international women’s day celebration emerged at the start of the twentieth century out of the early socialist movement. Such a celebration was unheard of at such a time—it reeked of pure radicalism, but today it is anything but. Since 1975after the first world conference on women held in Mexico City, United Nations began celebrating March eighth as International Women’s Day. Two years on, the UN adopted the resolution that all member states should observe one day each year to focus the light on women’s rights.  Today as we observe the day, we do so in Belize under the International Women’s Day committee’s theme; “The Gender Agenda: Gaining Momentum.” There is also United Nation’s theme; “A Promise Is a Promise; Time For Action to End Violence against Women.”


The other women nominated for the title were Victoria Hernandez, Joan Burke, Yolanda Murray, Adele Ramos, Mapye Smith, Cynthia Ellis Topsey, Sharon Pitts, Cristina Coc and Dacia Crawford Tillett. They were also given certificates courtesy of the Embassy. Duane Moody for News Five.