Warm greetings to all the participants in this International Colloquium on Women's Empowerment, Leadership Development, International Peace and Security.
Every year on International Women's Day, we celebrate the achievements the world has made in promoting women's equality and empowerment.
I congratulate women's organizations throughout the world that have been the driving force behind the struggle for women's rights.
I also pay tribute to the many men who have supported this effort. Only by joining forces can we hope for meaningful progress.
As you know all too well, in a number of countries, at least one of every three women is likely to be beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused in her lifetime. These risks are multiplied in situations of armed conflict, when sexual violence often becomes a weapon of war.
It is therefore fitting that one of the goals of this colloquium is to explore ways to realize the aims of Security Council resolution 1325 on women, peace and security.
Women must be protected from the worst abuses in times of conflict.
More than that, they must be empowered to play their vital and rightful role in conflict resolution and national recovery.
Peace and security for women and girls must be at the heart of development policy, from education, employment and infrastructure planning in peace-time to post-conflict reconstruction.
We must also harness the full potential of women as leaders, including in our efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.
Women bear a substantial portion of care-giving and care-taking responsibilities. They hold the keys to unlocking the barriers to sustainable development, sanitation, and more effective management of water and other natural resources. Evidence shows that when women occupy leadership positions, the focus on issues close to the people benefits men and women alike.
I very much welcome this first meeting of the Council of Women World Leaders in Africa.
I encourage you to use this historic opportunity to declare your commitment to the Secretary-General's campaign to “Unite to end Violence Against Women”.
And I wish you every success as we continue our vital work to promote gender equality throughout the world.