Defend International Celebrated Norwegian Womens Suffrage Centenary

Dr. Wdad Akrawi

2013 / 12 / 3

A delegation of Defend International attended the International Conference: Women, Power and Politics - The Road to Sustainable Democracy on 14-15 November 2013. During this splendid ceremony that highlighted the Norwegian Women s Suffrage Centenary, I had the opportunity to meet one-on-one with Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland, former prime minister of Norway, and Dr. Shirin Ebadi, 2003 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, among others.

Over 350 participants attended the Oslo International Conference to celebrate the Centenary of Women s Right to Vote in Norway at the Radisson Blue Scandinavia Hotel on 14-15 November 2013. Entitled "Women, Power and Politics - The Road to Sustainable Democracy," this conference was regarded as the final event in a series of celebrations marking Norwegian Women s Suffrage Centenary (1913-2013). The conference focused on the importance of women s political rights in relation to matters of international peace, security and sustainable development. It looked back in time, as well as ahead to the future to identify ways to involve new generations of women.

A delegation from Defend International attended the conference and celebrations. The impressive list of speakers included Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland, former prime minister of Norway and now member of the UN appointed Panel of Elders, Ms. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive -dir-ector of UN Women, Ms. Helen Clark, Administrator of UNDP, Dr. Shirin Ebadi, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Ms. Sanam Anderlini, co-founder of the International Civil Society Action Network, and Ms. Louise Arbour, President of International Crisis Group. As Head of our delegation, I had the opportunity to meet one-on-one with Dr. Bruntland, Dr. Ebadi, Ms. Anderlini, Mr. Jan Monsbakken, President of RI Global, Dr. Rania Maktabi, Professor at Ostfold University College, Ms. Rima Sheermohammadi from Spain, and Dr Hala Al Dosari from Saudi Arabia. I also had the opportunity to speak with members of FOKUS (Forum for Women and Development), and members of the PRIO Gender, Conflict and Peacebuilding Project.

Defend International also took part in the ceremony hosted by Mayor Fabian Stang at Oslo City Hall on Thursday 14 November 2013. The ceremony included statements, cocktail reception, musical entertainment, and guided tours in the City Hall. At the end of the conference, we congratulated the organizers for organizing and delivering such a splendid ceremony to highlight the Norwegian Women s Suffrage Centenary.

It bears noting that the conference was planned and organized by the Forum for Women and Development (FOKUS), which is a knowledge and resource center for international women s issues with an emphasis on the spreading of information and women-centered development cooperation, and the Peace Research Institute, Oslo (PRIO) in close co-operation with the National Suffrage Centenary Committee 1913-2013. The conference was funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Norwegian Ministry of Children, Equality and Social Inclusion.

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