The Lord Speaker, Baroness D’Souza gave a speech at the Commonwealth Secretariat today (Friday 8 March) as part of their International Women’s Day celebrations.
Addressing the particular challenges facing women in developing countries, the Lord Speaker outlined the importance of education and economic equality as necessary conditions for political leadership to emerge. Without educational empowerment women are not equipped with the skills needed for political leadership. Furthermore, in many countries, especially those in which women do not traditionally have an economic role, worries about survival and subsistence are also a barrier to political participation.
The Lord Speaker also talked about the role of the international community. In order to overcome social and cultural obstacles, initiatives aimed at promoting women’s political leadership should be based on existing structures so that a sense of community ownership can be fostered, thereby making them more likely to succeed and less dependent on donor sponsorship.
Drawing on her recent visit to Pakistan, the Lord Speaker then highlighted how these home grown projects, such as the organisations providing micro-finance to women in poor areas of the country, are achieving results and becoming gradually less reliant on the international community.
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