Second Africa/Asia Parliamentarian Forum on Human Security and Gender

Bangkok, Thailand

6 - 8 December 2002


Message from

Ms. Carolyn Hannan

Director of the United Nations Division for the Advancement of Women




Distinguished participants,

Representatives of United Nations agencies,

Colleagues and friends.


I am honored to send a message to this Second Africa/Asia Parliamentarian Forum on Human Security and Gender in Bangkok, Thailand. I would like to begin by extending my very sincere thanks to the Parliament and the Government of Thailand for hosting this Forum.  I am particularly grateful to H.E. Mr. Uthai Pimchaichon, Speaker of the House of Representatives and President of the National Assembly of Thailand.  Your august presence at this Forum highlights your personal strong support, as well as that of the Thai Parliament, for this Forum.  We are all very honoured that you have taken time out of your busy schedule to be with us this afternoon.

My special thanks go to Dr. Surinam Pitsuwan, member of the Thai Parliament and member of the Commission on Human Security, for all the encouragement and cooperation extended to us in preparing this Forum, and our deep appreciation for your willingness to bring the outcomes of the Forum to the annual meeting of the Commission on Human Security scheduled to take place in Bangkok just after this Forum.


I extend my gratitude to Dr. Najma Heptulla, Deputy Chairperson of the Rajya Sabha (Upper House) of the Indian Parliament for your unwavering support throughout the conceptualization and development of the Forum.


I would like to acknowledge the excellent collaboration between the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW) on this project, and I thank all colleagues for the hard work and team spirit with which they have approached this task.  I am grateful to ESCAP and UNDP Bangkok for their active support.  My thanks also go to the Government of Japan for recognizing the importance of integrating gender equality in parliamentary work and financing this project. 


This Forum is the second event of an initiative to further strengthen Parliamentarians’ efforts to integrate gender perspectives in the parliamentary work in the context of human security. Both Forums provide an opportunity for parliamentarians from Africa and Asia to discuss their role in promoting gender equality, and address issues considered essential to human security in relation to both, freedom from want and freedom from fear.


The consolidated outcomes of these two events will provide substantive inputs to the Third Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD III) scheduled for 2003, and to the annual session of the Commission on Human Security (CHS).  They also contribute to the continuing implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action, in particular its critical area of concern on women in power and decision-making, and of relevant recommendations contained in the outcome documents adopted at the twenty-third special session of the United Nations General Assembly in June 2000.


The first Forum, held in Marrakech, Morocco in March 2002, addressed the impact of armed conflict on women and girls; the gender dimensions of the HIV/AIDS pandemic; and the relationship between socio-economic policies and gender equality, including attention to gender-sensitive budgeting. That Forum adopted a communiqué containing important recommendations for action and follow-up by Parliamentarians. The communiqué and report of the first Forum are available for your information.  I would like to thank Ms. Nouzha Checkrouni, who is here with us today, for hosting the Morocco Forum.


The event you are about to begin will focus on two major issues: first, you will discuss opportunities for members of Parliament to promote gender equality in relation to human security aspects of the United Nations Millennium Declaration and Millennium Development Goals; and second, you will assess the role of the legislature in realizing women’s human rights and human security through the implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and its Optional Protocol.


In addition to reviewing these two key issues, the Forum will aim to consolidate and expand strategic partnerships and knowledge networking among parliamentarians in mainstreaming gender issues in the legislature, and to strengthen existing South/South networks of parliamentarians who advocate for gender equality.


I am very pleased that a number of participants from the first Forum were able to return for this second event.  Your presence provides both an important element of continuity in the discussion, as well as the nucleus for the expansion of the network of Parliamentarians from Africa and Asia who advocate for gender equality, and who can draw strength and inspiration from colleagues in other countries who share their commitment to gender equality and the empowerment of women.   I acknowledge with appreciation the feedback from some of the returning participants on steps already taken to follow-up the communiqué of the first Forum. Your responses are very encouraging, and it would be my hope that this second Forum would further consolidate and expand those gains.   


The topics chosen for this second Forum are a reflection of the importance of the Millennium Declaration and its Development Goals, and of the power of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women for promoting gender equality within a context of human security.  Without explicitly using that term, the United Nations Millennium Declaration highlights many critical elements of human security in the new millennium.  Heads of State and Government also resolved “to promote gender equality and the empowerment of women as effective ways to combat poverty, hunger and disease and to stimulate development that is truly sustainable”.  The Convention, to which 170 States are now party, creates legal obligations towards the same ends.


In regard to both, Parliamentarians have a most critical role as legislators, by providing oversight of the executive branch of government, and by advocating for gender equality within their constituencies to ensure the human security for both women and men through the achievement of the goals of the Millennium Declaration and the Convention, in partnership with governments, civil society, the private sector, and international, regional and sub-regional organizations. I am confident that this Second Africa/Asia Parliamentarian Forum on Human Security and Gender will provide participants with an excellent opportunity to assess in greater depth the gender dimensions of human security and to develop practical recommendations at both policy and programme levels. 


I regret that I am not able to participate in what I am sure will be very rich discussions, given the wealth of experience among the participants at this forum. I wish you a great success and look forward to tangible results of your deliberations.


Thank you.