My dear friends,
first of all, I want to wish you all a merry Christmas and a very happy new year. I would like to use this chance to tell you about my hopes and dreams for 2011.
“In the course of the last sixty years, the international community has recognized the universal validity of women’s rights and has declared any form of gender discrimination to be unacceptable.” This sentence, describing the themes of this year’s Pio Manzu Conference, to which I was kindly invited, addresses one of the main achievements of the last century, but also one of the main challenges of the current one. While many societies around the world have achieved great things with regard to the emancipation and equality of women, it remains true that a society in which women have the same chances and possibilities as men remains yet to be found.
In many countries, women are still anything but equal to men. They do not enjoy the same rights, let alone are given the same chances and possibilities as men. In many countries, girls will not receive the education and support that boys receive as they continue to be regarded as goods that can be traded between families. They are considered the possession of their fathers before they become the possession of their husbands. They cannot own property, gain their own incomes or decide how to live their lives. Instead, they suffer domestic violence, sexual abuse and crimes such as female genital mutilation.
In the coming years, we will be facing many challenges in striving to preserve this beautiful planet for our children. To do this, we need the contribution of everyone. A society that suppresses women excludes fifty percent of their population from being able to contribute their ideas, their creativity and their intelligence to the advancement of their societies.
Let us make sure that every girl born into this world has a chance to reach its full potential, too, without the constraints of discriminating laws, lack of social recognition or cruel practices.
We may have recognised the universal validity of women’s rights. Now is the time to make them a reality. For every woman on this planet.”
LOVE to you, your families and friends from me and the team of the Desert Flower Foundation,