NEW YORK—On July 8 and 9, the Socialist International Women’s (SIW) Council met at the United Nations headquarters in New York to discuss pressing issues facing women globally.
“Equality is not an issue for women, it is an issue for humanity as a whole,” said SIW Vice-President Diva Gastelum Bajo.
The opening speech was delivered by Ouafa Hajji, president of SIW and a member of the Political Bureau of the Socialist Union of Popular Forces, Morocco, and reflected on the positive outcomes in the struggle to eliminate poverty for women, eradicate violence against women, and strengthen women’s education and training development.
Socialist International (SI) Secretary General Luis Ayala commented positively on the work of SIW, and welcomed further discussions and collaborations. His speech—reflecting his remarks during the SI Council the day prior that discussed the Armenian Genocide—mentioned the 100th anniversary of the genocide and the efforts under way to organize a hearing or a roundtable discussion with participation from Armenia and Turkey.
Much of the sentiment of the two-day council meeting focused on “Bejing+20” and the future vision of SIW. Various council members, including representatives from Cameroon, Dominican Republic, France, Italy, Mexico, Morocco, Niger, and Turkey, gave speeches reflecting key efforts on what they have done within their own country to fight for parity amongst men and women, whether in the workplace, education system, or at home. Many reflected on the historical blueprint—the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action—that came out of the 1995 conference in Beijing, which led to a global phenomenon that saw women exercising their freedoms and choices.
Pia Locatelli, SIW honorary president (Italian Socialist Party), requested a special discussion and focus post-2015 that would work to eliminate forced marriages for young girls and women under the age of 18. Most of these girls are deprived of their adult lives, and most of them die during childbirth. Forced marriages also lead to similar consequence for generations of daughters.
Karine Shnorhokian and Sandra Vartanian represented the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) at the conference. “Attending this conference was truly an experience and opportunity to reflect on what we should be doing for Armenian women not only in Armenia, but throughout the diaspora,” commented Vartanian. “It is truly extraordinary the dedication and passion these women exhibit, and it is an honor to be amongst them.”
“Our participation in the SIW helps us not only to be in tune with movements aiming to resolve issues facing women worldwide, but also to participate in those movements, because Armenian women, in Armenia and the diaspora, face similar challenges,” said Armen Rustamyan, political representative of the ARF Bureau.
In September 1996, the ARF rejoined the Socialist International, which it had originally joined in 1907. In 2003, the ARF became a full member of the Socialist International, thus becoming the only party in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) with such a status. The ARF also recently became an observer member of the Party of European Socialists (PES). The ARF Women’s Group is a member of the SIW (Socialist International Women). The youth organization of the ARF, the Armenian Youth Federation, is a full member of the IUSY and YES.