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Junior Minister Kelly calls for enhanced role for women in post conflict societies

26 June, 2008

Sinn Féin Junior Minister Gerry Kelly has praised the role of women in building peace across the world and stressed the need for them to be empowered to play a full role in building post conflict societies.

Speaking at the closing day of the Peace by Piece conference in the Waterfront Hall he told delegates that women had been instrumental in picking up the pieces and rebuilding relationships after violence had passed. He said they now needed to be further empowered to take that work forward.

"They held families together in time of great hardship and conflict. But they were the voices to the fore regarding social change, tackling poverty, demanding equality and human rights. They also became some of the strongest and vocal supporters of the conflict resolution process. It was through women in the community sector, in residents' associations and women's group who first began to build networks across divided communities.

"That does that not mean that there was a common agenda by all sections of the women's movement. The divisions within our society by class, culture and politics are replicated throughout the women's sector. However this sector identified the common ground around the rights of women, embraced diversity and equality and also demonstrated a willingness to listen and to reach agreement. These are principles and approaches which underpin the process of conflict resolution.

"Women must be empowered to develop and participate in areas of society which previously excluded them, areas such as decision-making and governance at local and central levels. Women are still significantly under-represented in key institutions.

"It is imperative we undertake initiatives to redress the inequalities of the past, remove the barriers which inhibit the progress of women and ensure that women have equal opportunities to participate in the design and development of a post-conflict society." ENDS

Note to Editors

The conference was attended and addressed by speakers from countries across the globe where conflict is either current or part of their recent history, including Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, South Africa, Burma, Nepal and Burundi.

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