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President Tsai attends an exhibit of the women's empowerment project in Belize
President Tsai attends an exhibit of the women's empowerment project in Belize

On the evening of April 4 local time (early morning of April 5 Taipei time), President Tsai Ing-wen attended an exhibit showing some of the successes achieved through the women's empowerment project in Belize. The president expressed hope that Taiwan and Belize will continue to share their experiences and exchange views on important women's empowerment and women's rights topics, and that we will continue working to help women realize their goals and inspire them to be all that they can be.

Upon arriving at the venue, President Tsai watched a video detailing the successes of the women's empowerment project and listened to Amalia Mai, chief executive officer for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Immigration of Belize, provide a short description of the project's achievements. 

A transcript of President Tsai's remarks follows:

It is truly an honor to attend this exhibition marking the achievements of the Women's Empowerment Project, and to see the people who have contributed to its success in Belize. I must say, I was very touched by the video we just saw sharing the results of this joint project. I want to thank the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Immigration for inviting me to witness this progress. You should all be proud of the advances Belize has made in women's rights and empowerment.

Belize is one among many governments around the world prioritizing women's rights. Your efforts toward gender equality, one of the UN's sustainable development goals, are commendable. Taiwan is proud to partner with the Belizean government and its Ministry of Foreign Affairs to advance women's rights. 

In 2021, Taiwan initiated the Women's Empowerment Project in cooperation with our Latin American and Caribbean partners. Under its framework, 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.

I know that, aside from the outstanding individuals and women's groups involved in this project, many government officials have also been doing their part to empower women in Belize.

Thanks to everyone's contributions and participation, to date, the Women's Empowerment Project has helped more than 700 women in Belize enhance their skills or start a business. And the number of indirect beneficiaries is even greater, exceeding 2,000. But these are not just numbers. Behind the statistics are many women, families, and children who have found real support. I look forward to seeing these women expand their careers and businesses, and to all women in Belize having greater opportunities to flourish.

Like Belize, Taiwan has made binding commitments to address gender equality and women's rights. So today, I would like to take a moment to share some of Taiwan's own progress.

From government to business, women are gaining in representation across all sectors in Taiwan. Women now account for more than 40 percent of our national legislators and over 37 percent of those who lead small- and medium-sized enterprises. In addition, civil society organizations such as Garden of Hope, have been advocating for gender equality in Taiwan and in our region. Their work was key to the establishment of a regional network to protect victims of domestic violence. These are just a few examples of our long-term work to empower women, and of women finding ways to empower themselves.

And beyond our efforts at home, we have cooperated with international partners in women's empowerment projects, such as the one we are here to recognize today. Our hope is to see women thrive everywhere.

This past February in Taipei, I had the pleasure of joining Special Envoy Briceño at a forum on women's empowerment in Latin America and the Caribbean. I recall that we had quite a lively conversation about women's empowerment and women's rights–issues close to both of our hearts. Seeing this exhibition today, I am more than encouraged by the results of our collaboration. I hope that our countries will continue to share experiences and exchange ideas on these important issues. Let's keep working together to help women realize their goals and inspire them to be all that they can be.

Following her address, the president received a commemorative gift from the women beneficiaries of the project, and was then accompanied by Chief Executive Officer Mai and International Cooperation and Development Fund Secretary-General Timothy T. Y. Hsiang (項恬毅) of Taiwan as she visited the women's displays to gain a better understanding of how our assistance in Belize has enhanced women's economic empowerment and provided them with learning resources.

Also in attendance at the event were Special Envoy for the Development of Families and Children Rossana Briceño, Minister of Human Development, Families & Indigenous Peoples' Affairs Dolores Balderamos-Garcia, and the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Republic of China (Taiwan) Candice Pitts of Belize.

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