New York, 28 September 2007 - A meeting of the "Women Empowerment Network" took place on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York today, which was attended by 31 women ministers from around the world, including 15 women foreign ministers. At the suggestion of Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, and under the joint presidency of Condoleezza Rice and Ursula Plassnik, the ministers expressed their deep concern over the escalating situation in Myanmar. They called upon the regime to immediately put an end to violence, and demanded a dialogue with the leaders of the democratic movement. In addition, the women ministers reiterated their call for the release of Nobel Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi.
The main topics of the network meeting were conflict prevention, the experiences of women in post-war situations, in particular in Africa, the fight against poverty, access of women to education, trafficking of women, and women in the economic development of their countries.
Deputy Secretary General and former Foreign Minister of Tanzania Asha-Rose Migiro informed the women ministers of concrete progress reached toward the greater involvement of women in the peace work of the United Nations. She said that, meanwhile, three Deputy UN Special Envoys were appointed for Liberia, Sudan, and Lebanon.
Furthermore, the Conference on Women in the Middle East that took place in Vienna in May 2007 was positively mentioned. Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis is planning a follow-up conference in spring 2008. EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner extended an invitation to a meeting of the Network of Women Ministers in Brussels.
The Foreign Minister of Burundi Antoinette Batumubwira emphasized the contributions of women in post-conflict situations: "The voice of women must be given greater attention, especially in post-conflict regions and situations."
"We must make use of our network of influential women especially to draw attention to the situation of less privileged women", said the Foreign Minister of Malawi Joyce Banda.
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