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October 18
12:45 2018

By: Nefretery Marin

I grew up in a very political family. On my father’s side they were always extreme RED. On my mother’s side total BLUE. As a child, many politicians would frequent my home. I was allowed to sit and listen as long as I minded my manners. I started noticing that very few women were involved. It always bothered me but I minded my manners and bit my tongue…ok, I could not hold my tongue for too long.

I asked Grandfather and he said, “Most women do not believe in themselves. There will come a time when they realize they are doing all the work while the men are just talking their way up.” He laughed, and I laughed too. As I grew up, I kept that in mind. I held on to all of Grandpa’s words, but I started paying more attention and it troubled me to witness the degrading way men would talk to women, particularly young women like me. I mean, not just fathers to daughters, but husbands to wives, strangers on the street, leaders (and I use that word with caution). The disrespect for women seemed to grow worse as years went by.

Now that I’m involved in public life, it is unspeakably worse…especially in political circles. When we (men and women alike) talk to women about politics, we seem to try our best to talk in narrow, simplistic terms; we are condescending to them. When we talk to men…well, we brush up on our very best vocabulary and some even deepen their voices and bring back the “King’s English,” if you will.

I remember after I took the Women in Politics Course and listened to all the speakers, I said to one of the women that it is like our culture thinks it should provide simplified political information for women. They kept telling us what we needed to do over and over again; they stressed on how important funding is and all the negatives of why women don’t run…from the many speakers they brought in, they never introduced funders, donors, the people who had the money. In fact, they were like ghost people with ghost money that no one ever spoke of, except for the fact that we needed them. They did not even go through the basics of political fundraising. I learned a lot about how our system is set up and about why women don’t run. They even spoke of why we should run. Lots of money is spent on these courses, but not one cent spent on campaign funding for women…and THAT is where it counts!

I felt like we spent a lot of time talking about how tough women are, how strong and how unstoppable. We seemed to try to convince ourselves of how qualified we are to hold office. This was all good and dandy; imagine however, how frustrating it was for me having also experienced the men grooming men side of things. The language was stronger, the conversations much more relevant. They discussed national issues.

They did not pat each other on the shoulders. They did not sit around talking about the need for fundraising. They sat around making calls, writing to funders, introducing their potential candidates to the right people…making campaign plans….that is how elections are won! That is how strong candidates are made successful!
I thought to myself – that’s what we must do with women.

That’s what WE WILL do with women. It was sadly no surprise that out of such a large group of distinguished candidates only a couple attempted to put their names on ballots. I, being one, can tell you that I was totally unprepared. I was lied to and I was crucified…during my campaign I called most of the women who graduated, and none was available to walk with me. Audrey Matura was the only one that came one day to offer moral support after she witnessed how I was being slandered and trampled. None of all those women that swore to remain “united across party lines” said one word and they simply watched in utter silence!

The leader of my party who had initially sworn to stand by me, advised me to step down a little more than 24 hours before my convention…I did not reply to him. My family urged me to step down “gracefully” and I told them – I’m on the horse and when a cowgirl gets on a horse…she finishes the ride! “

I was broken, shamed, disgraced by people I trusted, people I loved and believed…No woman in the world should go through what I did. My children should never have seen fake nude pictures of me. But guess what, WE SURVIVED!

I’m not telling this story to disgrace that party, or for pity…I tell this story to show how resilient women are, to show how our strength surpasses that of any man I know.

I tell this story to show other women that those women Like Lisa Shoman, Marisa Alamilla, Lesbia Guerra, Chandra Cansino, those women like me…we have gone through the fire and we did it for you, for our daughters and for yours…It is time we stand and roar together! There is no time to waste. If I had the chance, I would do it all over again. They will not destroy us. We learn, we grow. We gain political maturity. We can do it but we must do it together!

Today, I believe there is a rising tide for women in politics. Our women must embrace their gender, and the unique perspective it gives them. I am praying for an unprecedented number of women to have their names on the ballot this upcoming election. Prominent women, mothers, housewives, nurses, teachers, all kinds of women….our women are starting to ROAR! The louder that roar gets the more the country will tremble!

In past elections women were hesitant to highlight their womanhood or feminism; that was our mistake. Today I believe we will witness it to be an asset!

The message to voters cannot be merely about representation or equality…that’s asking for pity and we are better than that! The message must be about a drastic change in priorities. We must change the conversation to an emphasis on better education and educational facilities, better salaries and benefits, better pension plans for our teachers, nurses, doctors and security forces.

The conversation must be about healthcare and early childhood education. It must also include paid family leave for our civil servants. The PINK Politics conversation needs to be about making Belize the safest place in the world to raise our children and grow our businesses!

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