A plenary session on the subject of “Women’s rights are human rights, and human rights are the right of women” within the Crans Montana Forum

A plenary session was held on the subject of “Women’s rights are human rights, and human rights are the right of women” within the Crans Montana Forum held in Baku, June 29.  First Lady of Azerbaijan Mehriban Aliyeva participated in the plenary session.

First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva addressed the plenary session:

- Ladies and gentlemen, respected friends and my colleagues!

First of all I would like to welcome all of you. I would like to greet all participants of the Crans Montana Forum to the city of Baku.

We are holding this forum in such a city that is a place serving establishment and development of intercultural dialogue at an international level. I would like to specifically mention here President of the Crans Montana Forum mister Carteron and ISESCO Director General mister Al Twaijri. I want to thank them for their participation in this forum.

I’m hopeful you will enjoy your stay in our city and take delight in the beauties of Baku.

Thus, the subject of this meeting is indeed of paramount importance. Because issues like agitation of women rights and gender equality are still on the agenda. I’m sure our discussion will give us a chance to hold indeed a very good and efficient exchange of opinions on this subjects.

As a woman, I prefer political and economic freedom. This would enable women to actively partake in the country’s life and all political and economic spheres, whereby they would have established  their independence. Economic freedom of women would have provided them labour freedom and other freedoms on a par with men.

In history, women have long struggled for their rights. For example, everybody remembers Dutch women’s movement in 1983. In addition, we all very well know that first in the East women gained the right to vote in Azerbaijan. Women occupy more and more high positions in state organizations.

As I had mentioned, as in other spheres, women have been successful in achieving economic freedoms. Achievements of women living in different countries show the success of this struggle. Women in the majority of countries have encountered much difficulties in connection with belonging to them property. These processes have been continuing so far. Fundamental freedoms of millions of women are violated everyday, even in the third millennium. Discrimination exists in many places of the world, both in the East and in the West in various forms.

Events like today’s event enables discussion of problems faced by women, at the same time, sharing our experiences, learning from each-other, involving international organizations like UNESCO and ISESCO in agitation of women’s rights.

Dear friends, Azerbaijan has unique experience in preventing discrimination against women. This has proved itself also in  extension of education opportunities for women in Azerbaijan. First secular school for women in the Eastern world was opened in Azerbaijan. First democratic parliamentary republic was established in Azerbaijan. This republic had given women the right to elect and be elected far earlier than most of the European countries, and established that women have the same rights on a par with men.

Azerbaijan regained its state independence 20 years ago. Keeping the way of open society, democracy and development, our country has faced a lot of difficulties in building the statehood. 20 percent of Azerbaijan’s soil has been occupied by Armenia. As a result of this, over one million people have become refugees and IDPs. This means hundreds of thousands of women and girls with lost homes and broken fates.

Despite all these hardships, Azerbaijan is today a country developing with rapid pace. Our rapid development has beaten the world records. Our economic development has opened new opportunities for Azerbaijani women. Azerbaijani women have been actively working in various spheres of the country’s life, and act as state builders, members of parliament and activists of a civil society. In addition, there are very skilled students, teachers and professors among women. Women are very active also in priority issues. For example,  we have adopted a law in Azerbaijan on gender equality. Moreover, since 2008 we have been implementing the Actions Plan on women issues. This plan provides for taking actions towads protection of social and economic rights of women. Azerbaijan has traditions of tolerance in relation to other cultures and religions.

We have participated in various international forums. At such forums, we shared our multilateral knowledge, our expertise in this sphere with others.  The intercultural dialogue held in Baku with support from the Heydar Aliyev Foundation and this forum have both once more proved how active role women in the society play and how active they are in this sphere.

Ladies and gentlemen, we are facing unjustness in the 21st century too. Unfortunately, in today’s life our children are still living in a world, where wars, various conflicts and cruelty occur, and there is no tolerance. Human rights and freedoms should be protected. In addition, UN’s Millennium’s Development Targets should be implemented broadly and in time.

Ladies and gentlemen, I’m sure our today’s meeting will help us achieve our objectives in protection of human rights, especially women rights.

I would like to thank you for being with us today and taking part in this meeting. I wish you happiness, success and wellbeing. Thank you for your attention.