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close this bookRole of Women in an Interdependent World (North-South Centre of the Council of Europe - OAU, 1993, 92 p.)
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Open this folder and view contentsOpening of the international encounter
Open this folder and view contentsWorking Groups
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View the documentClosing of the international encounter
View the documentA final word
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Introduction

The International Encounter "Democracy and Human Rights: the Role of Women in an Interdependent World", organised by the North-South Centre of the Council of Europe and the Organisation of African Unity, brought together over one hundred women and men from forty-two different countries. As well as parliamentarians, journalists and members of grassroots associations, the Encounter welcomed representatives of governments, international institutions, international and national NGOs and magistrates. This, in itself, was unquestionable confirmation of the political will that exists today to challenge the status quo, which, at the dawn of the XXIst century, still deprives of its power more than 57% of the world's population: women.

The Council of Europe has played an important role in the drawing up of human rights' legislation as we know it today and in the development of democracy, not only in Europe, but all over the world. The Lisbon International Encounter illustrated the organisation's continued commitment to work towards these goals and towards the promotion and support of the vital role played by women in the North and in the South.

The Lisbon Encounter was a follow-up to the Symposium "Women's Voice in the North-South Dialogue Strategies for Interdependence and Solidarity", which took place in Barcelona in May 1988, and the "Africa-Europe Encounter", which took place in Porto Novo in 1989, at the initiative of the World Social Prospects Association in co-operation with the Council of Europe and the Organisation of African Unity.

Over the last two decades, a number of international meetings, fore and workshops have been organised by women all over the world who are intent on creating a global movement capable of transforming the fundamental structures of our societies. For it is these structures which perpetuate the domination of one sex over the other and hold women in the margins of power as second class citizens.

More and more women are now joining forces at all levels of society and in all parts of the world in search of solidarity. These women, who for years have been campaigning in favour of women's issues, know how frustrating, demoralising and difficult it has been, and still is, to achieve positive change. However, they do not give up. Despite fierce opposition, persecution, imprisonment, isolation, torture and even death, women continue to stand against all the forms of injustice that discrimination brings. This is why it is so important today that the dynamism and energy generated by these women is maintained.

The aim of this Encounter, organised within the framework of the Human Rights Programme of the North-South Centre, was to provide women from the South and the North with the chance to exchange new ideas for peace and solidarity and to examine new strategies to allow them to participate fully in the construction of a more just and equal form of democracy.

The themes of the working groups at the event allowed participants to analyse the specific problems facing women and to observe the manner in which they are tackled according to different countries of origin. The working groups also explored the necessary measures for implementing and continuing action for change. This report aims to reflect the quality of the contributions delivered by the participants, as well as the enthusiasm with which these individuals participated in the Encounter.
Catherine Lalumi
Secretary General of the Council of Europe