Press Releases

                                                                                                                            9 July 2004

     “Empowerment of Women in Arab Society Has Become Central to Arab Vision of Reform”, Secretary-General Says in Message to Arab Regional Conference in Beirut

    NEW YORK, 8 July (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the message by Secretary-General Kofi Annan to the Arab Regional Conference “Ten Years After Beijing:  Call for Peace” in Beirut, 8-10 July, delivered by Mervat Tallawy, Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA):

    The theme of this conference, “Ten Years after Beijing:  Call for Peace”, reaffirms the commitment of the people of this region to the vital cause of women’s empowerment -- as enshrined in the Convention on Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, the Beijing Platform for Action, the Millennium Declaration and other international conventions and initiatives.

    The empowerment of women, one of the Millennium Development Goals, is not only a goal in itself -- it is a prerequisite for reaching all the others.  It is crucial to our efforts to combat poverty, hunger and disease, and to stimulate development that is truly sustainable.  And it is essential for the promotion of justice and peaceful resolution of disputes, as recognized in Security Council resolution 1325, a landmark document that is so relevant to this region.

    For decades, the region has endured conflict and tensions which have slowed economic, political and social development.  Indications are that with increasing regional risks, lower investment ratios, and the continued mismatching of physical and human capital, future growth is likely to be less than its past levels.  Meanwhile, Arab women continue to be less economically and politically empowered than women in other regions of the world.

    It is heartening, therefore, that the status of women is being addressed in almost all regional and national reform initiatives.  At the Arab Summit held recently in Tunisia, Arab States undertook to support women’s rights and widen the scope of their participation in the political, social and economic arenas.  Representatives of Arab non-governmental organizations, academia and various political parties have emphasized the importance of the empowerment of women through deliberations and declarations in Alexandria, Sanaa, Doha and Beirut.  Clearly, the empowerment of women in Arab society has become central to the Arab vision of reform.

    Allow me once again to commend Ms. Suzanne Mubarak for her initiative in launching an international movement of women for peace.  I am delighted that her  initiative is bearing fruit, as we can see in the national chapters of her movement being established in the region.

    I send my warmest wishes to all participants in this Arab regional conference, and hope that many more will follow your example.

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