Annan urges greater involvement of women in resolving conflicts and fostering peace

20 September 2002

Women, so often victimized by wars, should be given a greater role in ending them, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said today in a message to a gathering in Egypt of first ladies and other female officials.

"It is one of the tragic features of modern conflict that women and girls suffer its impact disproportionately," said Mr. Annan in his message to the two-day Conference on Women for Peace, Dialogue for Action being held in Sharm El Sheikh. "They are usually neither the initiators nor the perpetrators of conflicts, yet they have been specifically targeted, often as a way to humiliate the adversary and break the morale and resistance of whole societies."

The message, delivered by Mervat Tallawy, the Executive Secretary of the UN Economic and Social Commission for West Asia, pointed to increasing recognition that women possess particular skills and experiences that enable them to contribute to all stages of a peace process. "Women understand the root causes of tension and are more likely to know which groups within communities and countries are likely to support peace initiatives," the Secretary-General observed.

Urging greater use of women's potential to defuse and settle conflicts by bringing more women to the negotiating table and into decision-making positions, Mr. Annan pledged to shortly submit to the Security Council recommendations on how to achieve this end.


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