8th March, International Women’s Day

 When women on all continents, often divided by national boundaries and by ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic and political differences, come together to celebrate their Day, they can look back to a tradition that represents at least nine decades of struggle for equality, justice, peace and development.

Published by the United Nations Department of Public Information–DPI/1878–January 1997


Although progress has been made in terms of the number of women elected and appointed to office around the world, women are still largely absent from relevant decision-making bodies at all levels. Often the target of extreme violence, women continue to experience the full impact of violent conflict as civilians and combatants. They continue to face significant institutional disadvantages in politics and are generally excluded from decision-making in peace processes.

But women’s political participation and leadership is a critical component of democratic dialogue and social cohesion. The role they have played in North Africa and Middle East transformation movements should be reflected in inclusive transition processes, ensuring their full participation and contribution in the discussions. In 2009, drawing on the leadership experience of its Members, the Club de Madrid its Women’s Leadership for Peace and Security in the Greater Horn of Africa and the Andean Region[1] project, with the support of the Belgian, German, Norwegian and Icelandic Governments. The objective of this project is the increased and more effective participation of women in peace and security processes, and enhanced respect for their human rights in conflict and post conflict situations.

Addressing gender inequality in peace and security decision-making is a priority for the Club de Madrid members. This project is aimed at strengthened relationships, networks and cooperation among women and male leaders in politics and civil society, through new or renewed partnerships and alliances. Our members’ convening power can draw otherwise unlikely male leaders and stakeholders from political, religious and traditional spheres and engage them with women on often-controversial issues of gender equality.

Today we would specially like to pay tribute to the women from the G40 –the group of 40 Women Leaders- struggling for peace in the Greater Horn of Africa. The G40 is a community of teachers, humanitarian workers, lawyers, grassroots peace activists, researchers, political scientists, business professionals, historians, social workers, human rights defenders and journalists that was formed in 2009 in the framework of our Women’s Leadership for Peace and Security in the Greater Horn of Africa project to bring fresh thinking to crisis prevention and recovery in the Greater Horn of Africa and move these ideas into action through the collective power of women’s networks and constituencies. Each one of these women is playing a key role at the local level to bring peace to the region.

Once more and especially on Women’s Day, the Club de Madrid wants to congratulate and express its satisfaction for President Michelle Bachelet’s recent appointment as Head of UN Women. The Club de Madrid is very proud to have her as a member and is grateful for her work and commitment to gender equality and the advancement of women.

[1] This Project is being implemented through a partnership between Club de Madrid, Isis-WICCE and ISS in Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda.