Speech of 3rd Meeting of ICAPP Women’s Wing: Baku, Azerbaijan, September 1-3, 2015

Speech of Ms. Sujata Koirala, Central Working Committee Member, Chief of the International Relations Department and Constituent Assembly Member of the Nepali Congress party, former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Nepal and Vice Chairman of ICAPP Women Wing

Honorable Chairperson,
Excellency Chung Eui-young, Co-Chair of the Standing Committee of ICAPP,
Hon. Co-Chairs, Vice Chairpersons and all Women’s Wing delegates of ICAPP,
Honorable representatives from COPPPAL and CAPP,
Excellences, Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentleman,I like to specially thank Hon. MalahatIbrahimgizi, and Hon. Park In-sook for their excellent work as co-chairperson for the ICAPP Women’s Wing.

Let me begin by expressing my gratitude to the organizers and our very friendly hosts for inviting the Nepali Congress Party to this very important 3rd meeting of the ICAPP Women’s Wing and giving me the opportunity to address the meeting being held in the beautiful city of Baku, Azerbaijan.

It is my privilege to be here again. I remember the day of the establishment of the ICAPP’s Women’s Wing and its first meeting here in 2013, and the success it has had in bringing women leaders of Asia together under the umbrella of the ICAPP.

I am very honored and happy today to represent the woman of Asia as newly elected Co-Chair of the ICAPP’s Women’s Wing. This is a great opportunity for me to work on the empowerment of Asian women. I would also like to thank the Bureau of the Women’s Wing for the opportunity and the trust given to me to co-lead the ICAPP’s Women’s Wing. I therefore pledge to you to further the goals of our organization and to work for closer cooperation amongst the women of Asia.

This meeting assumes great importance not only for the themes such as Achievements, Challenges and the Way Forward for the Women in Asia but also the specific issues such as Poverty Alleviation, Security, Health and Education and Political Participation of women in Asia as underlying the major themes.

I bring to this distinguished gathering warm greetings and sincere best wishes of the President of the Nepali Congress Party and Prime Minister of Nepal, The Rt. Hon. SushilKoirala, all political parties and leaders and of course the people of Nepal. I also personally wish this meeting a grand success.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The 21st Century is dubbed the Asian Century. Indeed Asia is not only the largest region of the world in terms of population and the diversity of the geo-physical conditions and the richness of the ethno-cultural and religious mosaic but also the dynamism the region has demonstrated in terms of economic development and social transformation. In this process, there are many achievements in so far as the status and role of women is concerned. The impressive record of freeing such a large percentage of the population from poverty,as has happened in China, has obviously also lifted a large percentage of women from hardship of poverty, and even elsewhere in the world. The massive improvement in the health and education sectors in many Asian countries has contributed in raising the health and educational status of women too. The vigorous emphasis on improvement in the maternal child health programs in Nepal have shown their impact on the dramatic reduction in the maternal and infant mortality rates in Nepal.

These are achievements we can be proud of. But there are also many challenges ahead. Women still are the worst victims of poverty and political violence in many parts of Asia. Women advocating the rights of education to a girl child are still targets of violent actions in some parts of Asia. Often women cannot even move around on public transportation in safety. And additionally,let alone political representation, women and girls are deprived of their most basic right of education and instead continue to be discriminated, smuggled, treated as sex slaves and violently punished if they resist.This must change! How can the dream of a strong, developed and peaceful Asia be sustainable without thefull, active and equal participation of 50 percent of its population?

In this respect, I want to give my sincere appreciation to the great work being done bythe ICAPP and for taking the initiative to stop the various forms of crimes against woman in such important areassuch as Human Trafficking for example. In 2014 the ICAPP’s first conference on Human Trafficking was held in Kathmandu, Nepal, and this year in Cambodia. Both conferences were extremely successful. Speaking for Nepal we can say that after the conferenceawareness of this heinous crime has significantly increased amongst the stakeholders in my country and law-enforcement is acting more decisively. This, I must say, is a very significant achievement in such a short span of time. I am sure it will be the same for Cambodia as well.

Our meeting and discussion here is important not only for the vitality of the themes and issues underlying them but also because they will be important in the context of the 20th Anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing and the forthcoming debates on the evaluation of the Millennium Development Goals and the future strategies aimed at accomplishing the targets set therein.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Delivering the fruits of rapid economic growth to the people has emerged as the most serious challenge to our socio-economic transformation with implications for political stability, social harmony and environmental sustainability. For me personally, even more important is the realization that politics devoid of its true purpose of service to the people is no politics, as development without positive change in the daily lives of the people, particularly those living in poverty, deprivation, exclusion and marginalization is no development. It is in this sense that I believe this meeting signifies the need for those of us involved in politics to rise above the mere search for power and actually use the power of politics to improve the conditions of our people with easier access to basic social services, andto ultimately preserve, restore and promote peace and justice. It is this part of politics as a process of making the right political decisions and implementing them in the interest of the people, especially the vulnerable groups such as women and children that I want to emphasize with the need for a more gender sensitive approach to development with equal participation as well as access to basic services such as health, education, and employment opportunities for women.

With these remarks, let me now briefly turn to my own country Nepal. As you know, Nepal went through a vicious period of violent conflict for a decade in which over 17,000 Nepalese lost their lives with many more wounded, disappeared, displaced with destruction of public infrastructure and private properties. To end the violence and to restore peacemy late father, the first Prime Minister andHead of State of the Republic of Nepal and President of the Nepali Congress party Girija Prasad Koirala initiated the peace process with the historic People’s Movement in April 2006 presenting a new example of People Power.

Today we are engaged in a supreme democratic exercise of empowering the people of Nepal for the first time in our history by drafting a new Constitution through the Second Constituent Assembly (CA). In this endeavor I would like to ask for your support and goodwill. The CA has started deliberations on the final draft of the Constitution to finally institutionalize the Federal, Democratic Republic of Nepal with a fairrepresentation of Women in all political structures of the State.

With these thoughts, let me now conclude by thanking our hosts and inviting all of you for active cooperation now and in the future and for making our meeting a great success.

Thank you.

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