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The Belize Police Department celebrates Women’s Month at the Biltmore Print E-mail
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Friday, 15 March 2019 00:00

“Women! Rising above Circumstances, Inspiring and Innovation Changes.” That was the theme under which the Belize Police Department’s (BPD) Women’s Conference was held on Wednesday, March 7, 2019. The event saw the attendance of hundreds of female officers, ranking from civilian officers to superintendents like Spt. Suzette Anderson all the way to an Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP), Dezerie Magdaleno. Also there was the Special Envoy for Women and Children, Kim Simplis-Barrow. While there were only a handful of men there, those men included Commissioner of Police (COMPOL) Chester Williams and Minister of National Security Hon. John Saldivar.

Welcoming the hundreds of attendees was ACP Dezerie Magdaleno, who gave a very compelling address. In her remarks, she not only solidified the day’s theme with her personal story of how she defied the odds and climbed up the ladder in a male-dominated field, she also encouraged her peers to do the same. ACP Magdaleno had to come out of her comfort zone and make sacrifices by leaving her home and children in Cayo but did it, because it was what was required to get where she wanted. She encouraged them to be firm and to fight for what it is they want, and to take it. “Rise up women, and take what it yours.” Before she ended, she left the audience with a thought. She said that she did not follow a paved path, she made her own, and it is possible for everyone else to do the same.

ACP Magdaleno also highlighted the plights that women face, including balancing a job, their personal life, and their children. Compounding on that point was COMPOL Chester Williams, who made some announcements which seemed to be extremely appreciated by the women. According to the COMPOL, the department is looking to work for a daycare at the Raccoon Street Police Station by the end of May. This development, he said, is vital and will exist for those mothers whose children are often abandoned while they perform their jobs.

Of the 2,100 current officers, women account for 293 officers, approximately 20%, a number well above the international norms, 18% which are in leadership positions. The COMPOL says that the female population within the department will continue to grow because of their stellar work. He says that women are at each border entry point, a strategic decision due to their competence and professional working styles. He carried on the same sentiments that ACP Magdaleno shared, that women are as capable as the men they work with, and that they should not settle just because of their femininity.

Minister of National Security, Hon. John Saldivar, also delivered remarks which echoed those of ACP Magdaleno and COMPOL Williams. He likewise encouraged the women police officers to continue to strive, despite their circumstances. He further fortified them to harness the power they have over their children, shaping them to be future leaders while balancing everything else they have to do, which does lead to happiness. “You must have confidence in your ability and be tough enough to rise above the challenges and follow through with your plans and your goals.”

Kim Simplis-Barrow, Special Envoy for Women and Children, was also present for the women’s conference. Her remarks started with highlighting Marie Henry Anderson, the first woman to serve our country as a police officer. Not much more than five decades ago, there were only three women police officers and we are now looking at nearly 300. “We have come far, but don’t settle.” Simplis-Barrow told the officers that while they could be commended for the stellar performances they continue to do, they can give more to themselves by not settling for second and third best.

Following the opening ceremony, five dynamic women were chosen to host open discussions, panel discussions, and activities. Those included talks on the upcoming International Court of Justice Referendum, a talk on domestic violence, and one on sexual health education.

Last Updated on Friday, 15 March 2019 11:58