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Brussels, 6 March 2009

International Women's Day – EC Vice President Margot Wallström, and Commissioner for Health, Androulla Vassiliou, to participate in the International Colloquium on Women's Leadership in Liberia

Margot Wallström, European Commission Vice-President for Institutional Relations and Communication Strategy and Commissioner for Health, Androulla Vassiliou, are attending the International Colloquium on Women's Leadership, Empowerment, Peace and Security in Monrovia, Liberia, 7-8 March. The Colloquium coincides with International Women's Day on 8 March and provides an important platform for promoting women's empowerment at a global level. The principle of equality between men and women is a core value of the European Union, both in its internal and external policies.

Margot Wallström, Commission Vice-President for Institutional Relations and Communication Strategy said: "Women can make the difference. The world urgently needs the empowerment of women to help deal with the global challenges facing us, such as tackling climate change, achieving the Millennium Development Goals, conflict prevention, crisis resolution, and dealing with the economic crisis. Experience all over the world shows that when women do play a role in decision-making, they bring to the table different experiences and ideas and society as a whole benefits from the results".

"The European Commission has always been a strong proponent of equality between men and women.The European Union also has a vital role in promoting these values at a global level. Equal representation of women and men in power is a precondition for truly effective and accountable democracy and lasting economic prosperity", said Androulla Vassiliou, EU Commissioner for Health.

The Colloquium brings together 800 international and Liberian participants, including women leaders, heads of state and government, ministers, CEOs, presidents, executive directors, NGOs and community leaders. It will be co-chaired by the President of Liberia, Mrs Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, and President of Finland, Mrs Tarja Halonen. It seeks to empower women to be more effective leaders and to contribute to the achievement of Millennium Development Goal 3 on Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women. The event will demonstrate the clear gender dimensions of climate change, environment protection and sustainable development. It will also support the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security to ensure that women are protected from the worst abuses in times of conflict and to empower them to play their rightful and vital role in helping their countries prevent, end and recover from conflict. The European Commission supports and contributes financially to this event.

EC Vice President Margot Wallström will make an official statement on behalf of the European Commission during the opening ceremony of the Colloquium. She will also give the keynote speech at the Workshop on "The Impact of Climate change: What women can do", arguing that women can be catalysers in the fight against climate change.

At the Colloquium, Commissioner Vassiliou will be speaking in the session dedicated to Millennium Development Goals while she will also give a speech at the launch of the Angie Brooks International Centre on Women's Empowerment, Leadership Development, International Peace and Security. The Angie Brooks Centre will support the implementation of actions emerging from the event and include activities such as training and research to empower women.

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