Vienna, 8 August 2007 - "The National Action Plan adopted by the Austrian federal government today aims at raising awareness about the fact that the voices of women should be heard to a greater extent in peace processes. After all, conflicts affect women to the same degree or even more than men but women hardly ever get to sit at the negotiating table. This has to change. For several years, I have strongly advocated more involvement of women and more attention to women's concerns in international peace processes, both in bilateral visits to crisis areas, where I always also meet with women's groups, and in the multilateral contexts of the UN and the EU", said Foreign Minister Plassnik.
"The current programme of the Austrian federal government has declared the implementation of UN Resolution 1325, and thus the inclusion of women and their concerns, a focus of Austrian peace work. The National Action Plan adopted today is an important step towards translating this political project into reality. Austria has thus become a pioneer of the international community, expressing her readiness to fully maintain our commitment to international peace policy. In fact, international commitment is only credible if we do our own homework", Plassnik went on saying.
"Under the Action Plan, efforts will be stepped up to get more women interested in foreign assignments and to recruit them. The subject of 'women's rights' will be added to the human-rights training courses which women and men attend prior to every assignment. Peacekeepers must learn to listen more closely when women's issues are at stake. We cannot and will not accept sexual exploitation, the approach here is zero tolerance", stressed Plassnik. She said that the Action Plan was a document with a potential for further development, and its implementation would be subject to review every year.
"Austria has a high international profile in respect of women's rights, and our commitment to this issue will not falter in the future," promised Plassnik, who also recalled that decisive steps to ensure the implementation of Security Council Resolution 1325 in EU missions were taken during the Austrian EU Presidency. "These efforts and Austria's involvement in the UNIFEM projects on the Western Balkan and the UN anti-violence fund are only just the beginning. The point is now to make the promises of the resolution materialise", concluded Plassnik.
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