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WOMEN’S ISSUES NETWORK OF BELIZE Working to improve the lives of women since 1993

March 23, 2011

PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

MEMBER AGENCIES

The Women’s Issues Network of Belize (WIN-Belize) condemns the The Guardian newspaper for its use of the image of Gina Tillett on the front page of the March 17 edition. As a result, all 14 member agencies (and their staffs) of WIN-Belize have chosen to boycott The Guardian newspaper until further notice.

Alliance Against AIDS Belize Audubon Society Belize Enterprise for Sustainable Technology

The tasteless, pointless and glaring photograph of Ms. Tillett published in The Guardian was used simply for cheap political gain, without consideration for the harm publication of this image would cause the victim. This sensationalistic action by The Guardian has resulted in Ms. Tillett being offered up for judgment and frivolous, hurtful commentary by a society that unfortunately still employs a double standard as to how men and women are treated in public life.

Belize Family Life Association CottonTree Women’s Group Fajina Chairladies

The image of women in the public eye in Belize is often less than kind. Women are often viewed as objects of shame, or as sexual objects. Women are still seen as something that exists primarily for men’s gratification. The resulting impact of these portrayals is all too often violence against women who dare step outside these stereotypical roles.

Haven House Leading & Empowering Others in Action & Principle Women’s Group Plenty Belize Progressive Organization for Women in Action Sazani Associates United Belize Advocacy Movement Youth Enhancement Services Young Women’s Christian Association

The current UDP government has publicly called for an increased involvement of women in politics. The ongoing “Women in Politics” project, designed to equip Belizean women with the skills they need to enter electoral politics, is an example of this government’s commitment to increasing the presence of women in the political arena. However, at the same time the official UDP organ, The Guardian, commits this outrageous personal attack on a woman simply because she has chosen to be active in party politics! The hypocrisy of this action reveals the glaring truth about just how far behind Belize really is when it comes to promoting women in politics. Further to the personal attack on Ms. Tillett, The Guardian used her image as an instrument to attack her brother Nelson Tillett who, according to The Guardian, pleaded guilty to a charge of domestic violence. It is a very sad statement on how the media treats each gender differently when an innocent woman is stripped of her dignity and made to suffer the shame of a degrading front-page photo, while a man guilty of violence against women receives barely a sidebar mention. The media plays an important role in shaping the public perception of women and their role in society. The media can transform negative stereotypes or it can promote the status quo. The Guardian newspaper has chosen to do the latter. The boycott of The Guardian newspaper by the members of WIN-Belize will remain in effect until the newspaper apologizes to Gina Tillett for their grievous action and commits to fairly portray women in all future publications. WIN-Belize also calls on every media house in Belize to publicly show women in a fair and just light and to do their part to promote the empowerment of women.

Women’s Issues Network of Belize 28 Dean Street P.O Box 2471 Phone: (501) 227-1069 Fax: (501)-227-1069 info@winbelize.org www.winbelize.org

“News has no sex, but the treatment of the information has gender“ – Patricia Anzale

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For further information about WIN-Belize, contact Carolyn Reynolds, Executive Director, at 227-1069, or visit www.winbelize.org


WIN-Belize boycotts The Guardian newspaper