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Women Empowerment Exhibition – A Blend of Diplomacy and Culture

Apr 4, 2023

Women Empowerment Exhibition – A Blend of Diplomacy and Culture

In 2021, Taiwan initiated the Women Empowerment Project – an initiative that seeks to place women in better positions to become entrepreneurs and self-reliant. Today, before she departed Belize after a state visit, the President of the Republic of China Taiwan, Doctor Tsai Ing-Wen took part in a ceremony for a women empowerment exhibition. It featured Belizean women who, through the Taiwan-sponsored program, received technical training or support to start their business. And President Tsai, herself, toured the booths where Belizean women displayed their crafts, talents, or cuisine. Today’s edition of Kolcha Tuesday looks at how diplomacy helps people to express their cultural identities. Here’s News Five’s Marion Ali.

Marion Ali, Reporting

Since Taiwan invested in the Women Empowerment Project in 2021, it has provided support for women in vocational skills training, as well as start-up support for micro, small and medium enterprises. Surprisingly, while a lot of it had to do with business, some of it was also cultural. And today, many of them were out to show President Tsai what they are now engaged in. Before she departed, President Tsai said she was pleased with the efforts made thus far.

Dr. Tsai Ing-wen

Dr. Tsai Ing-wen, President, Republic of China Taiwan

“Taiwan and Belize have helped women enhance their vocational skills and provided consultation and resources for starting a business. We hope these services will help bring women a step closer to achieving their entrepreneurial ambitions and economic independence. Aside from the individuals and women’s groups involved in this project, many government officials have also been doing their part to empower women in Belize.”

On the local front, the Government of Belize has afforded the women an opportunity to showcase culture through business, and government officials, including C.E.O Amalia Mai and Ambassador Dr. Candice Pitts, were willing to help expose Belizean culture.

Candice Pitts

Dr. Candice Pitts, Belize’s Ambassador to Taiwan

“As I’ve mentioned to the entrepreneurs, if they have the desire, we are more than willing to have their products on exhibition in Taiwan to introduce to the people of Taiwan to the quality of the products that we produce here in Belize.”

Amalia Mai

Amalia Mai, C.E.O., Ministry of Foreign Affairs

“Whether it be from seaweed, whether it be from sea salt, jewelry we make and we’ll have the opportunity to look at the jewelry on display here and all the other works that women have been doing – very creative work. I think one of the biggest things about this project is that it brought families together, it makes women more independent, it builds on the M.S.M.Es and really allows women to grow their potential.”

The women we spoke with were either culturally defining themselves, or have been established already, like Gloria Lambey, who sells Garifuna food in Hopkins Village and Amira Correa-Pelayo, who owns Sangria Mia.

Amira Correa-Pelayo

Amira Correa-Pelayo, Owner, Sangria Mia

“My parents are actually fruits and vegetable vendors, so I actually had access to fruits, so I would always be at home making Sangria – something that I would like to drink, sharing it with family and friends and I did this for years. And I had that opportunity to just play with the fruits and little did I know that what my parents were doing was influencing me because I didn’t realize how pineapples could complement oranges and apples and the blending coming all together and what fruits didn’t go together and so I just brought all of those skills sets from my parents.”

Gloria Lambey

Gloria Lambey, Sells Garifuna Food in Hopkins

“Today is the day I’m doing an exhibition to the Taiwanese, so I’m super excited that I had to showcase my Garifuna cultural cuisine, Hudut, Darasa, green banana with hash fish and tomato sauce and top it up with the potato pudding.”

Marion Ali

“Okay, so how do you hope to expand all of this to more people of different cultures?”

Gloria Lambey

“I have my personal business so feel free to give me a call: 671 9654. You link me, I’ll hook you up.”

Twenty-year-old Shahira Young is a Belizean artist who feels that there needs to be a change in the way we think that others ought to help us to succeed.

Shahira Young

Shahira Young, Fine Artist

“I’m still finding myself as a young artist trying to find myself so I do abstract, impressionism, fauvism, Belizean art but with a twist. Today I get to meet the Taiwanese President. That was a very humbling, honoured feeling. And I actually had that on my vision board for when I reached twenty-five. It’s happening now, so a lot of things are happening fast and I just want to tell young people to keep on working hard. Yoh always hear the word, “I can’t do this, the government don’t provide funding. We need to change our culture and our mindset. It’s not about them, it’s about ourselves our self thought. You have to get up, work hard, write letters, send it to businesses, try to promote yourself as an entrepreneur, as a person who wants to make finance in your household.”

Minister of Human Development, Dolores Balderamos-Garcia, thanked President Tsai in a cultural way that would be difficult to top.

Dolores Balderamos-Garcia

Dolores Balderamos-Garcia, Minister of Human Development (Singing)

You may go gial, but yoh must come back. (Applause) You may go gial, but yoh must come back. You may go, but yoh must come back. Our heart is aching for the love of you.”

Marion Ali for News Five.