Wien, 8. March 2013 Press release

Spindelegger: "Strengthening women's rights is on the agenda of Austria's international and development policy"

Foreign Minister on the International Women's Day

Vienna, 8 March 2013 – "Protecting and strengthening women's rights has not only been a priority of Austria's international policy for many years, they are above all indispensable elements of any open and prosperous society. A society that neglects the rights of 50% of its people is doomed to fail in the long run", Vice-Chancellor and Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger said on the occasion of the International Women's Day on 8 March. The Foreign Minister pointed out that he raises this issue consistently in all his personal contacts. "I used my recent visits to Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan for example, to push for strengthening of women's rights and their empowerment at all levels. The voice of women needs to be better heard in the peace process in particular – in line with Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000)."

"Despite some singular positive developments even in these states it is obvious that a lot more needs to be done to effectively overcome discrimination of women world-wide. All of us must commit ourselves to this task", Spindelegger continued. "It is particularly important to create a sustainable awareness for issues of equal rights. It cannot be that violence against women is still silently tolerated in many societies. The goal of preventing violence against women and girls is also in the focus of the current meeting of the UN Commision on the Status of Women in New York. Austria is pro-actively supporting a powerful concluding document for this conference."

The reduction of gender-specific violence and getting more women involved in decision-making processes - are also declared goals of Austrian Development Cooperation. In the framework of the "Rechte fordern - Gleichstellung fördern" programme of CARE Austria, 60,000 women and 30,000 men in North Uganda, Nepal and Ethiopia are being qualified to implement equality of the sexes on the level of the individual and the society and also in structural terms.The project pursues the long term goal of changing behaviour and attitudes in society to abolish discriminating power relations. Austrian Development Cooperation has endowed this programme with 2.5 million euros.In Kosovo, the Austrian Development Cooperation finances a project dedicated to fighting domestic violence against women. A domestic assault shelter offers protection to women and children in a crisis situation; campaigns and workshops inform and sensitise the people in the country. Women affected by domestic violence receive support on their way towards social and economic independence.

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