World Leaders to Discuss Women and Democratic Governance at United Nations Headquarters

September 21, 2010


WASHINGTON, D.C. – Heads of state and government from around the globe will convene Thursday, Sept. 23, 2010, for the panel discussion “Women as a Critical Force in Democratic Governance.” The event will be held in the ECOSOC Chamber of the United Nations Headquarters in New York City from 3:00 to 5:15p.m.  Moderated by UN Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict Margot Wallström, the discussion will explore the essential role that women play in the democracy-building process. 

Confirmed panelists include Her Excellency Michelle Bachelet, President of Chile (2006-2010), His Excellency Sükhbaataryn Batbold, Prime Minister of Mongolia, the Right Honourable Helen Clark, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme, Her Excellency Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia, Her Excellency Roza Otunbayeva, President of Kyrgyzstan, Her Excellency Emily de Jongh-Elhage, Prime Minister of the Netherlands Antilles, the Right Honourable Jenny Shipley, Prime Minister of New Zealand (1997-1999), Baroness Catherine Ashton, Vice President of the European Commission and High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, and the co-hosts of the event, Her Excellency Tarja Halonen, President of Finland and Her Excellency Dalia Grybauskait?, President of Lithuania.  Immediately following the panel discussion, the floor will be opened to attending ministers for general debate, with remarks scheduled to be made by the Honorable Rados?aw Sikorski, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Poland, the Honorable Connie Hedegaard, Commissioner for Climate Action of the European Commission, and Hannah Forster, Chair of the African Democracy Forum. The Honorable Melanne Verveer, U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues, and the Honorable Audronius Ažubalis, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania, will provide opening remarks.  The Honorable Jeanne Shaheen, U.S. Senator from New Hampshire, will close provide concluding remarks.

Women comprise half of the world’s population, yet are often vastly underrepresented in the political process.  Women’s political participation is a prerequisite for genuine democratic governance, and can be harnessed to drive the democratization process. Convened on the occasion of the UN General Assembly by the Community of Democracies in partnership with the Council of Women World Leaders, the “Women as a Critical Force in Democratic Governance” panel discussion will examine case studies presented by the panelists of women’s varied roles in the democracy-building process.

This high-level panel discussion will bring together Council and Community of Democracies members, representatives from non-governmental organizations, ministers of foreign affairs and other portfolios, and the media to discuss the essential role women play in the development and support of democratic systems.

For further information, please contact the Council of Women World Leaders Secretariat via telephone at +1-202-736-2294, via e-mail at, or visit

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