First Lady of Belize Kim Simplis Barrow

First Lady of Belize Delivers a Lecture at AUA

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YEREVAN, Armenia – On October 7, 2019, the American University of Armenia (AUA) Political Science and International Affairs (PSIA) program welcomed the First Lady of Belize, Kim Simplis Barrow, for a talk on “Challenges of National Development in a Small State: A Focus on Advocacy and Social Issues.” The event was part of the lecture series under the Initiative for Small States Studies (ISSS) and was moderated by AUA Adjunct Lecturer and ISSS Coordinator Dr. Narek Mkrtchyan.

At the beginning of her presentation, Barrow stated that the topic was not only relevant to her capacity as spouse of the Prime Minister and Belize’s Special Envoy for Women and Children, but also reflected her deeply held convictions on the importance of mobilizing people and organizations for the development of small states. 

According to the World Bank definition, small states are countries with a population of 1.1 million people or less, by which Barrow counted 56 independent countries that would be considered small states. She then refuted the misconception that a small number of people living in a small area would have a high level of national development. She claimed that the national development of small states faces distinctive development challenges driven by size and population, and their governments have a responsibility to provide the public goods and services the same as governments with large budgets do. 

Barrow referred to issues related to education, healthcare and climate change among the challenges that small states encounter. She then highlighted approaches that small states use to overcome those challenges. “No matter who you are and where you come from, you can contribute to making this world a better place,” concluded Barrow.

Before opening the floor to questions, Dr. Mkrtchyan reiterated that the ISSS aims to continue organizing lectures and talks on the concept of “smallness” having established the framework for Armenia: “small but smart” and “small state, global nation”.  During the Q&A session, the audience asked questions on the challenges and issues that small states are facing, such as awareness and prevention of violence and diseases, migration, natural hazards, and women’s empowerment. The audience learned that, like Armenia, Belize celebrates Independence Day on September 21, which also is the founding anniversary of AUA. 

The Political Science and International Affairs (PSIA) program of the American University of Armenia (AUA) equips students with advanced analytical reasoning, critical thinking, and communication skills through the study of political science and international affairs, emphasizing local and global perspectives and practical applications of theory. The program provides world-class teaching and research, producing graduates who can best contribute to the development of the nation.