6 March 2006

International Women's Day to be Marked in Austria with Focus on Women in Decision-making

VIENNA, 6 March (UN Information Service) -- "Let us ensure that half the world's population takes up its rightful place in the world's decision-making," said United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan in his message on the occasion of International Women's Day 2006. Inspired by the theme "women in decision-making", the Day will be observed on and around 8 March by the United Nations in Vienna and in a multitude of events around Austria. 

At the Vienna International Centre (VIC), staff members of the Vienna-based United Nations entities and representatives of permanent missions will observe the Day on 8 March, 12:00-14:00 hours. The event will include a keynote speech on  "Women in Decision Making" by Dr. Shizuyo Kusumi, Commissioner of the Japanese Nuclear Safety Commission, and a lecture on "Harassment of Women In the Workplace (Mobbing)", by psychiatrist/neurologist Dr. B. Schmidl-Mohl. At 17:00 hours, a screening of "The Gift from Beate," a film about the women's rights movement in Japan in the post-World War II period, will be held.

The Austrian Federal Ministry for Health and Women will hold a 'Women's Convention', 7-8 March, at Palais Auersperg, Vienna. Reflecting the theme women in decision-making, the focus of the Women's Convention will be on careers and business mentoring. Keynote speakers include Austrian Federal Minister for Health and Women, Maria Rauch-Kallat; Austrian Federal Minister of  Justice, Karin Gastinger; and Austrian Federal Minister of Social Security, Generations and Consumer Protection, Ursula Haubner. The message of the Secretary-General on International Women's Day will be distributed in German at the opening of this event.

The Austrian NGO "Women Without Borders", in cooperation with the Austrian Federal Chancellery, will hold a screening of the documentary "Women Swimming into the Future - Different Strokes" on 7 March, 10:00 hours at the House of Sport, Vienna. The film introduces a unique project of Women Without Borders: in the aftermath of the Indian Ocean tsunami disaster, in which many women drowned because they were not able to swim, the NGO is organizing swimming lessons for women in the tsunami-stricken coastal regions of Tamil Nadu, India. The United Nations Secretary-General's message on International Women's Day will be delivered by Director, UNIS Vienna, Nasra Hassan.

International Women's Day is celebrated annually on 8 March by the United Nations and in many countries around the world. It is a day when women are recognized for their achievements without regard to divisions, whether national, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic or political. It is an occasion for looking back on past struggles and accomplishments, and more importantly, for looking ahead to the untapped potential and opportunities that await future generations of women.

 "The world is starting to grasp that there is no policy more effective in promoting development, health and education than the empowerment of women and girls. And I would venture that no policy is more important in preventing conflict, or in achieving reconciliation after a conflict has ended," said Secretary-General Kofi Annan in his message.

The International Women's Day 2006 theme of women in decision-making provides an opportunity to assess how women's voices are being heard in parliaments and boardrooms. While the share of women participating in parliaments world-wide is higher than ever, it is still only 16.3 per cent. The most significant increases in the share of women in parliaments have been seen in Africa and Latin America. Also in high-level economic decision-making, women's participation remains low. According to the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, in developed countries, women still constitute less than one-third of total employers.

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For information contact:

Renate Henke
NGO Liaison focal point, UNIS Vienna
Telephone: +43 1 260 60 3324
E-mail: renate.henke@unvienna.org