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UNITED NATIONS
Department of Public Information · News Coverage Service · New York


GA/9721
7 June 2000

General Assembly Plenary
Twenty-third Special Session
6th Meeting (PM)

SPEAKERS IN SPECIAL SESSION PLACE EMPHASIS ON RIGHT OF WOMEN
TO ENJOY EQUALITY IN DECISION-MAKING AND POWER ROLES


As the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly continued its general debate this afternoon, a number of speakers called on the international community to recognize the fundamental right of women to enjoy equality in decision-making and power roles.

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MAHA KANNOUT, Minister of Culture of Syria: The need for women to stand united and determined is more urgent today than it has ever been before. Ignorance and socio-economic pressures will not only threaten what has so far been achieved by women, but will also threaten our human achievements for years to come. For women in my country, this session has translated into reality a determination that did not falter, and a perseverance that cannot be compromised. We have set for ourselves lofty objectives: equality, development and peace.

Equality means what the world does to level the playing field for women and men so as to provide women with equal opportunities. We are neither prejudiced against women nor against men. We are seeking justice for both. Recognition should be based on merit and competence. For equality to be genuine, we must guarantee equal opportunities, freedom from oppression, and uncompromised rights. In Syria, the relation between men and women is a relation among equals, motivated by a desire to serve our country and promote our national interests. Men and women are treated equally in labour laws that consecrate the principle of equal pay for equal work. Employment opportunities are also equally guaranteed for both men and women.

Development is the main concern of women and men in my country. Education is free for all throughout its different stages. Legislation was enacted to guarantee women’s participation on an equal footing with men in the process of social and economic development. The presence of Syrian Arab women is clearly felt at all levels of power and decision-making. Grass-root organizations and civil society actively participate in the development of our society. The Federation of Syrian Women played an important role in advancing and increasing awareness of women’s issues and integrating their concerns in the national agenda.

Peace is the primary concern and preoccupation of women in Syria. Women are the first victims of Israel’s persistent violation of any attempt to translate the dream of peace into a tangible reality. Syrian Arab women in the Golan are the first victims of Israeli occupation. Israel violates their human rights and subjects them to all forms of violence and oppression. This is unfortunately also the fate of our Palestinian sisters lingering under Israeli occupation. We renew our commitment to a just and comprehensive peace, which to us is a strategic choice.

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For information media - not an official record