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DIRECTOR-GENERAL OF UNESCO

Director-General Attends Round Table on Women Peacemakers on the occasion of International Women’s Day

Director-General Attends Round Table on Women Peacemakers on the occasion of International Women’s Day
  • © UNESCO/M. Ravassard

On 8 March, the Director-General of UNESCO, Mr Koïchiro Matsuura, attended the Round Table on Women Peacemakers organized on the occasion of International Women’s Day at UNESCO Headquarters.

Participating on the Panel of Speakers of the Round Table were Ms Sylvie Kinigi, former Prime Minister of the first democratically elected, ethnically mixed government of Burundi; Ms Luz Mendez, one of the few women to participate in the Guatemalan peace negotiations in the early 1990s; Ms Ruth-Gaby Vermont-Mangold who, through the Swiss parliament and the Council of Europe, has helped to win international recognition for women peace activists; Senator Mobina Jaffer, former Canadian Special Envoy for Peace in the Sudan and Chair of the Canadian Committee responsible for implementing Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security; and Ambassador Swanee Hunt, founder of the Initiative for Inclusive Security that helps bring together and train women peacemakers from around the world.

In his address, Mr Matsuura highlighted how the theme of the Round Table relates to the overarching message of International Women’s Day – that is, “Ending Impunity for Violence Against Women”. “Violence”, he said, “is a common thread in the fabric of women’s everyday lives … responsible for the majority of deaths of women aged 15 to 44 worldwide … [and] … is all too often met with impunity.” He recognised that such violence is particularly aggravated by situations of conflict, and argued that this is all the more reason why women should therefore be included in the processes put in place to resolve conflicts.

In making reference to United Nations Resolution 1325, which engages all Member States to promote the participation of women in decision-making and peace processes, integrate gender perspectives and training in peacekeeping, and protect women in armed conflict, the Director-General took a moment to pay tribute to Ms Angela King, the Jamaican diplomat and UN official who recently passed away and who was the driving force behind the conception and passage of the Resolution. However, while hailing the fact that international commitments such as Resolution 1325 and the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) have gone far in raising awareness on women’s equality and women’s role in peace building and keeping, the Director-General recognized that despite “the advancement that Resolution 1325 represents, and the tireless contributions of individuals like Ms Angela King, women remain underrepresented in peace processes and at top decision-making levels. Indeed, the gap between policy and practice remains wide.”

Finally, the Director-General congratulated Ms Thacoor-Sidaya, Ambassador and Permanent Delegate of Mauritius to UNESCO for her initiative of establishing the “Group of UNESCO Ambassadors for Gender Equality.” He expressed the hope that this group will play an important role in strengthening UNESCO’s action in support of gender equality and women’s empowerment.

  • Author(s):Office of the Spokeswoman
  • Source:Flash Info N°039-2007
  • 13-03-2007
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