Ouagadougou, 12 November 2007 Press release

Plassnik: "Using the strength of women for sustainable peace"


Foreign Minister meets West African women in Burkina Faso

Ouagadougou, 12 November 2007 - "Women need respect, recognition and encouragement. Human rights must also apply to women without any restrictions. This is a core component of sustainable peace work throughout the world," said Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik yesterday at a meeting with around 35 West African women from social, economic and political spheres, including four ministers - for human rights, women, literacy and regional cooperation - from Burkina Faso, as well as Josephine Ouedraogo as representative of ENDA, a Senegalese non-governmental organisation, Thoko Ruzvidzo from the African Centre for Gender and Social Development, Saran Daraba, president of the Manu River Women Peace network and Kady Fall Thall, president of the West African Women’s Association.

"But our societies also need the strength of women - to safeguard peace and for economic development and the democratisation process. We women seek to encourage other women to take responsibility in public life. Only in this way will it be possible to succeed in the fight against violence, poverty and marginalisation, and in conflict prevention and peace work," said Plassnik.

"Societies that do not make full use of the energy and commitment of women are missing out on one of the most valuable resources for positive development. The strong women of Africa in particular need to be called upon as partners. They are the backbone of the African economy both in agricultural production and in trade and retail marketing. Their contribution must be made visible and known. In many cases women are not given the credit, in the public sector and elsewhere, that they deserve," continued the Foreign Minister.

"Neither in African nor anywhere else should women have a lower rank in society. The equality of women is not a women’s issue but also one that concerns men. Only if we can meet each other eye-to-eye can we make progress towards sustainable peace," stressed Plassnik, referring to the joint EU-Africa strategy, which is to be adopted in early December in Lisbon and which mentions gender equality as a key principle. The main themes of the strategy are combating violence against women, forced marriages and genital mutilation, and combating female poverty so that more women can take part in decision-making processes and be fully involved in peace processes.

Role of women in the promotion or peace and sustainable development

Role de la femme dans la promotion de la paix et le developpement durable

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