Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks at the opening ceremony of the Third Eurasian Women’s Forum in St. Petersburg
The Third Eurasian Women’s Forum has officially kicked off at the Tavricheskiy Palace in St. Petersburg.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the Eurasian Women’s Forum has taken its rightful place among the most influential international platforms. “The Forum’s cooperation and collaboration with such associations as BRICS, APEC, UNIDO, and the W20 are growing,” he said.
Putin added that the modern, rapidly changing world is setting new tasks for society and nations. “Women are playing an even more significant role in meeting [these tasks]. These include issues concerning sustainable economic development, the global climate agenda, environmental problems, environmental protection, new approaches to education as a process that accompanies people throughout their lives, and the desire to build a system of social support on fairer, more balanced principles.”
Speaker of the Russian Federation Council and the Interparliamentary Assembly of Member States of the Commonwealth of Independent States Valentina Matviyenko delivered the opening speech at the plenary session ‘Women: Global Mission in a New Reality’.
She noted that St. Petersburg has become the true capital of the global women’s community during the days of the Forum. “The Forum has brought together guests from more than one hundred countries, twenty-three international organizations, and all regions of Russia. The whole world is in this room. There are millions of Internet users from all continents holding a video conference with us,” she added.
The Forum, she noted, is being attended by statesmen, politicians, heads of non-governmental organizations, women who have achieved outstanding success in business, science, and culture, prominent public opinion leaders, and representatives of international organizations.
Matviyenko stressed the world around us is rapidly changing. New digital technologies are emerging that penetrate our everyday lives and affect the way people think as well as their social connections and habits. Environmental protection issues are becoming more and more acute. “International law is increasingly being replaced by certain ‘rules’. In international relations, the use of double standards and the imposition of development models that are alien to them continues to be imposed on sovereign states. On top of all this, we are seeing the practice of economic blockades, sanctions, and restrictions even on the import of vital supplies and technologies, including vaccines.”
The pandemic has exposed these problems even more and demonstrated that our world is in dire need of a creative agenda and the rejection of national self-interests and the policy of ultimatums, she said. “In these difficult conditions, women are the ones who should be more actively involved in solving global problems. You and I must define the global mission of women in the new reality. This is how we view the central goal and main point of the Third Eurasian Women’s Forum,” she said.
Matviyenko noted that the coronavirus pandemic was not only a global shock, but also caused a serious “reset” of economic and social development processes and forced people to take a fresh look at women’s involvement in solving acute problems. She called for gratitude to those who, risking their lives, sparing no effort, and showing stamina and courage, fight this disease every day and save lives. In addition, she added, women are the main ones who are employed in the areas most affected by the pandemic – in retail, services, tourism, and hospitality.
“The issue of health has a central role at the Forum. We need to call on the international community to join efforts for the sake of human health, ensure equal access to vaccinations and medicines as well as the mutual recognition of vaccination certificates, and do away with any discriminatory practices in the healthcare sector. We will continue to support women’s initiatives that aim to create a healthy society,” she said.
Matviyenko proposed creating a certificate of public acknowledgement as part of the Forum under the code name ‘In the Name of life’. This certificate will be awarded to women who have made a significant contribution to health-promoting projects.
Issues concerning economic and social inequality are becoming more and more acute around the world, Matviyenko stressed. Expert estimates show the effects of COVID-19 could increase the global poverty rate by another half a billion people. “Overcoming this negative trend is impossible without improving the professional development of women. This is why the Forum is constantly promoting accessible education for women and their active involvement in production, management, and innovation processes as well as the development of creative industries,” she said.
The Council of the Eurasian Women’s Forum is carrying out continuous, systematic work to boost women’s involvement in high-tech industries.
Matviyenko also spoke about the ‘Woman – Leader’ educational programme, a social lift for hundreds of women in Russia that is currently in high demand today.
With this in mind, she proposed forming a single international database of materials about successful women in order to exchange experience using the Forum platform. “It’s gratifying that the dominant trend in the modern world is the increasingly broader and more complete affirmation of real equality, and this is a success of historical significance,” she said. She said it was outrageous that there are still places in the world where women are oppressed, defenceless, and deprived of basic human rights. These challenges can only be successfully dealt with collectively, she said.
Matviyenko believes it is no coincidence that the Eurasian Women’s Forum is being held in Russia for the third time and is essentially a driver for the development of the global women’s agenda. She also noted that Russian history has had numerous great women leaders – educators, scientists, and artists. “Today, the Russian state continues to protect the interests of women and is implementing an action strategy in the interests of women – the ‘Decade of Childhood’ programme. We are ready to share our experience at the venue of our Forum.”
The Eurasian Women’s Forum stretched beyond the borders of Eurasia long ago and has essentially become global, she said. “Over the years of its work, we have created a ‘success formula for women’. Today, the Forum is giving life to new associations, such as the club of the winners of the APEC competition for female entrepreneurs’ projects, the Women’s Business Alliance of BRICS countries, and others.
“This multi-format and multifaceted cooperation among women of the world is precisely what can bring us closer to achieving ambitious and large-scale goals,” Matviyenko said.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres sent a video greeting to the Forum participants. He noted that the world has changed significantly since 2018 due to the pandemic and the dire situation with the climate. “The new reality requires fundamental reforms. And the involvement of women helps to conclude stronger peace agreements, improve social protection programmes, and strengthen the climate agenda.”
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova noted in her speech that the role of women in modern society has been constantly expanding in recent decades in the face of growing technological, economic, and demographic challenges.
“Most countries are developing and implementing strategic documents that aim to improve the status of women. Russia is no exception. Our state systematically pays attention to issues involving support for women. Creating conditions for their full and equal participation in the political, economic, social, and cultural spheres of society is a priority for the development of state policy in our country,” she said.
Tatyana Golikova emphasized that women make up more than half of Russia’s inhabitants – over 78 million people. “They make an exceptional contribution to the development of all spheres of social life,” she said.
During the meeting, Yulia Peresild, a theatre and film actress and an Honoured Artist of the Russian Federation, sent a video greeting from the International Space Station.
BRICS International Forum President Purnima Anand (India) called for the empowerment of women around the world. “The pandemic has led to serious losses, including human capital. We need to take advantage of tools that will help fight poverty and ensure sustainable development. The Forum will contribute to a historic transition in the distribution of powers.”
Sherpa at Women20 Italy Martina Rogato during Italy’s presidency of the G-20 in 2021 noted that women from all countries are working together as one team as part of the Women20 to address key issues of concern to the women’s community. Such issues include the empowerment of women, the promotion of their more active involvement in entrepreneurship, sustainable development, the development of effective measures to counter domestic violence, and more. Rogato said women must actively combat stereotypes in order to achieve their opportunity for self-realization.
Central American Parliament (PARLACEN) President Fanny Carolina Salinas Fernandez commented on the role of women in shaping a new agenda for peace and prosperity. She noted a resolution that the UN General Assembly adopted in September 2019, which declares 2021 the Year of Peace and Sustainable Development. “There are more and more civil communities around the world that are promoting the agenda of peace and sustainable development. The task of women is to contribute to achieving these goals,” Fernandez said.
Natalya Kochanova, Chairwoman of the Council of the National Assembly of Belarus, noted that proactive participants who sincerely advocate for the wellbeing of present and future generations have once again gathered at this platform.
“We are living in difficult times: the world is going through a serious test of strength. And it’s not just the pandemic. The confrontation of cultures and civilizations is intensifying, rhetoric in international relations is escalating, and aggression is being whipped up in the information space,” Kochanova said. She expressed confidence that the global mission of women is to prevent conflicts, reconcile countries and peoples, and guide them on the path of creation and development. “When united, women of goodwill can accomplish a lot,” she said.
National Assembly of South Africa President Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula spoke about the international community’s joint fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) Managing Director Fatou Haidara spoke about the organization’s work to enhance women’s role in the economy and promote women’s leadership.
Chairwoman of the National Commission for Women Affairs and Family and Demographic Policy under the President of Kazakhstan Lazzat Ramazanova emphasized the importance of the Forum’s platform for discussing the entire range of women’s initiatives.
During the session, speeches were also made by Rinawati Prihatiningsih, Chairwoman of the Standing Committee on the Empowerment of Women of the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce, a jury member of the prestigious APEC Best Award in 2017, 2018, and 2019 from Indonesia, and a member of the G20 Empower Alliance; Gulden Turktan, Chairwoman of the Council of the International Women’s Forum in Turkey; Tabassom Mohammad Kazim, a student from Afghanistan at the Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia; and Russian journalist Zhanna Agalakova. Video messages were also sent by Shen Yueyue, President of the All-China Women’s Federation and Vice-Chairwoman of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, and Sonia Gandhi, a Deputy in the House of the People of the Indian Parliament and Chairwoman of the Indian National Congress parliamentary faction.
The event was attended by Deputy Chairwoman of the Russian Federation Council Galina Karelova, Russian senators, representatives of Russia’s regions, and foreign guests.
The Third Eurasian Women’s Forum was organized by the Russian Federation Council and the Interparliamentary Assembly of Member States of the Commonwealth of Independent States. The operator of the Forum is the Roscongress Foundation.
Official website of the Third Eurasian Women’s Forum: 2021.eawf.ru.
The general partner of the Forum is the Russian Ministry of Industry and Trade; strategic partners: Promsvyazbank, Bank FC Otkritie, Rosseti, and RZD-Medicine; official partner: Arconic Corporation; business programme partners: Russian Export Centre, KFC, and Rostelecom; partner of the environmental platform: Moscow School of Management SKOLKOVO.