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
"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."