On Women`s Day, EU hails north Africa, E Timor
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Last Updated: Tuesday, March 08, 2011, 11:22
Brussels: The European Union marked the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day hailing women's "crucial role in bringing about change in northern Africa".

"Amidst violence, women have joined the struggle for change," said the two women vice-presidents of the European Commission, foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and justice and rights commissioner Viviane Reding.

"We hope that the key role that women have played so far will be reflected fully in the institutional changes that are already under discussion in the region," they said in a statement. "Women must be at the heart of the discussions over the future order."

In T-shirts and jeans or robes and veils, tens of thousands of women have made their voices heard in the streets, from Tunis to Cairo, from Manama to Sanaa, to demand reform in a region long ruled by autocracies.

Calling for greater investment in education for girls, they said "literacy and numeracy equip women for economic independence, increasing their chances of achieving their full potential".

In a separate statement issued from East Timor, the Commissioner for development Andris Piebalgs commended the country as "a remarkable case" in the developing world regarding the empowerment of women.

Some 30 percent of members of parliament are women in the former Portuguese colony that gained formal independence in 2002 after being occupied by Indonesia, he said.

"There are important legislations in place, for instance against domestic violence," he added.

"There will be no human and economic development without a sound respect of women's rights and conditions," he added. "This is a fundamental part of the development policy that I wish to champion."


First Published: Tuesday, March 08, 2011, 11:22

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