Harriet Harman, Minister for Women and Equality, will today call on EU women Ministers to agree a new structure for working together to improve women's lives, and to work to support the establishment of a new UN agency for women.
Ms Harman will call for these women Ministers to meet routinely on a regular basis, as EU leaders and Finance Ministers do, to make progress on supporting women, both at a European and international level.
Today, for the first time, an unprecedented number of women Ministers from across Europe will gather at a summit in Cadiz. The summit is part of the Spanish presidency of the EU, and is co-hosted by Minister for Women and Equality Harriet Harman and Spanish Equalities Minister Bibiana Aido Almagro.
Harriet Harman, Minister for Women and Equality, said:
"Today's meeting is an unprecedented opportunity for women ministers to work together and make a difference to women's lives in their own countries and internationally.
"There are now women ministers and parliamentarians in every continent and in most countries, and that is a trend which is only set to continue. This offers the prospect that the agenda for women - equality, tackling poverty, ending violence against women, women's representation - can move beyond making demands of male dominated international structures.
"Now, women in Government and Parliaments, can themselves work together, not just to ask male Ministers for change, but to make change happen. Women are stronger when we all work together.
The summit is the latest in a series of events to build support for the agenda and new structure. Next week Ms Harman will:
* Host a meeting in London with women Ambassadors to the UK gain their support
* Host a meeting of Non-Government Organisations concerned with women issues and development issues.
* Next month Ms Harman will attend the UN meeting of the Commission on the Status of Women.
The European Women in Power Summit is being held in Cadiz, Spain, on Wednesday 3rd February 2010.
Ms Harman is working with Foreign Office Minister Baroness Kinnock and International Development Minister Gareth Thomas on the new UN agency for women.
Please contact the Government Equalities Office press office on 0207 276 1175, out of hours 07500 816 959.
NOTES FOR EDITORS
* The Government Equalities Office is responsible for the Government's overall strategy, legislation, and priorities on equality issues. The Office also has direct responsibility for policy on gender equality, sexual orientation, and for integrating work on race. The Prime Minister announced the establishment of the Government Equalities Office (GEO) in July 2007 and it became a Department in its own right in October 2007. It works to Ministers Harriet Harman, Maria Eagle, Vera Baird, and Michael Foster.
About the Cadiz Summit
1. Twenty five women Ministers from across Europe are expected to attend the Cadiz summit.
2. The Cadiz Summit comes ahead of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women in New York on 1st March 2010. It is expected that the UN will take forward the establishment of the new UN agency for women, to be led by a new Under Secretary-General by the close of the current General Assembly session (UNGA 64), following the UN resolution 63/311 of September 14th, 2009.
3. The Cadiz Declaration, expected to be agreed at the Summit, will commit Ministers to working towards getting more women in roles of high political responsibility; more women at the top of democratic structures; and a more equal balance between men and women holding elected office. The Declaration will highlight the need to ensure that the improvements in women's educational achievement are reflected in the number of women in decision making roles.
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