How to put a little reason in the world

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By Gina Mission

how to put little reason in the world

New Millenium, New Rules: Former President Corazon Aquino,
Malaysian parliamentarian Wan Azizah Ismail, conference convenor
Irene Santiago, and former Senator Leticia Ramos Shahani sign up.

LILJANA Popovska is the Deputy Minister of Development of Macedonia, a former communist state under the Yugoslav republic. But when she arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport for this week’s Global Forum of Women Political Leaders, she was held by airport authorities for 30 minutes. Reason: She was from a "restricted country."

   That, however, was just part of the nightmare. On her way to Manila, she was also held in Slovenina, prevented from buying food for her seven-hour wait for her connecting flight, because airport officials there didn’t consider as among the "right documents" her diplomatic passport.

   "I have a position, I’m supposed to have power, and yet I was treated like… an international criminal. How much humiliation do ordinary Macedonian women have to suffer on the same circumstance? Is it our fault, the women’s fault, that our country was forced to go to war?" she pointed out when she told her story to CyberDyaryo.

   But Popovska decided to set aside personal grudges and decided to stay for the forum. This is because like all other women who attended the forum at the Philippine International Convention Center from January 17 to 19, she wanted to explore ways to help women in her country attain equality with the men.

   According to convenor Irene Santiago, "to review new rules women leaders should pursue in the new millenium" is "not (necessarily) about outsmarting the men… (but) about putting a little reason in the world… to make the world less narrow-minded, less brutal, less prejudiced, less ungiving, less dangerous."

   The following are the ideas of women in politics, civil society, the private sector, and the academe on how to achieve equality with the male species:

   Liljana Popovska, Deputy Minister of Development, Macedonia: "In my country, the most important thing the women need is economic opportunities."

   Zenaida Gordon, board member of the Technical Education and Skills Development Training Authority, Philippines: "The challenges facing women today are access to finance, technology, markets, information and training. Education and training are the doors that will not only open opportunities but will equip women to deal with these opportunities, thus leading to her economic empowerment."

   Dianna Abruzzi, executive chair, International Women’s Federation of Commerce and Industry, Australia: A successful partnership between government and the private sector is a "possible dream," but getting there will be a "nightmare."

   Corazon Aquino, former president, Philippines: Women, as keepers of the values of the family and society, play an important role in politics. This is because "it is a job men and women can and should do together, in complementarity, just like they should in the home."

   Daw Aung Sau Suu Kyi, Nobel Peace Laureate (in a videotaped address): Women leaders have more compassion than men do because they are the nurturers of children. She envisions a future that is "so caring, with not much distinction between leaders and the citizenry."

   Marta Suplicy, former congresswoman, Brazil: Affirmative actions in health, education, and poverty alleviation should be put in place to overcome historical inequities between men and women.

   Dr. Wan Azizah Ismail, Member of the Parliament, Malaysia: The high visibility of women occupying public office in Asia is a strong argument against the belief that ideological or psychological impediments are so great to enable women to actively participate in governance. "Indeed, there are obstacles. But these are not insurmountable. The quest for democracy will remain high in these women’s agenda."

   Sudarat Keyuraphan, Member of Parliament, Thailand: To earn her political power, a woman "must know how to turn crisis into opportunity."

   Hon O. Enhthuya, Member of Parliament, Mongolia: To inspire women to participate in governance, they should be exposed to inspiring stories of great women leaders. "While getting support from international networks, leaders-in-waiting should also use and gather strength from new international treaties and agreements that uphold women’s participation in politics."

CyberDyaryo | 2000.01.21

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