Women 'on path to claiming global leadership'

8th March 2006, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, March 8, 2006 (AFP) - Women, whose economic contributions are often overlooked, are now well on their way to claiming leadership in countries around the world, Africa's first elected female head of state said in Paris Wednesday.

PARIS, March 8, 2006 (AFP) - Women, whose economic contributions are often overlooked, are now well on their way to claiming leadership in countries around the world, Africa's first elected female head of state said in Paris Wednesday.

"Women's role in society has now been set on a new path, on an irreversible path, where we can claim the leadership, we can seize the moment," Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said at a conference organised to mark International Women's Day.

Sirleaf, who in January became the first elected woman president in Africa's history, told the conference on women and development that her own election pointed to a significant change in the way women are regarded and the responsibilities they are taking up.

"In Liberia, the women -- my primary constituency -- have spoken loudly and clearly with their votes.

"With determination and with courage, sometimes against very difficult odds, they have made history, and they have charged me with the responsibility to make a difference, to set the example, to make all women in Liberia, in Africa... proud of a woman's definable, measurable and quantifiable contribution to development."

Sirleaf, a 67-year-old former World Bank economist who was France's guest of honour for International Women's Day celebrations, said women's roles in the economic life of developing countries are too often ignored.

While statisticians home in on industrial output, manpower and gross domestic product, women "fulfil the basics of our food security. They take a greater responsibility to tend the farms, to store, to transport and to market the food which gets to our tables," she said.

"Yet this contribution too gets bypassed by the statistical tables and economic indicators in national accounts."

As developing nations follow developed states in seeing women assuming more responsibility as political and economic decision-makers, "we will find a way to record and to quantify women's values which add a whole lot and make a major contribution to development," Sirleaf predicted.

Development then will be measured less in terms of exports, imports, currency stability and inflation, and more by "the percentage of enrolment of the children in schools, by the availability of clean water in the society, by health facilities, by public shelter, by jobs," she said.

After her speech, Sirleaf was scheduled to meet French President Jacques Chirac, who already called her an example of the "special role women play in African development."

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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