foto of Mary Robinson

Women’s voices shouldn’t only be heard because they are the victims of the war- Mary Robinson

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Empowerment starts with participation; Women’s voices must be heard

Point of View

On September 15, the United Nations celebrates the International Day of Democracy. To mark this day, we asked Parliamentarians from both Europe and Africa the following question:

“What do you think the politician’s role is in strengthening the voice of the people in Africa, to establish and maintain a healthy democracy?”


Roundsabine de bethune copy “Empowerment starts with participation: through engaging local groups and organisations in political decision-making, people are given the opportunity to raise their concerns and take part in shaping the communities in which they live.
We should make sure especially that women’s voices are heard. Women constitute half of the population, but are often left out of decision-making processes. It is impossible to talk of democracy if half of the people have no right to speak.
In particular, I encourage European and African politicians to work together towards the goals of resolution 1325 of the UN Security Council to include women at all levels of peace-building in (post) conflict societies.
African women should be enabled to gain knowledge and access resources to build their capacity to become active citizens in their communities. Only if men and women are equally represented, lasting social change is possible.Sabine de Bethune
President of Belgian Senate
Senior Parliamentary Advisor of the AWEPA’s programme in the Democratic Republic of Congo

To read more about our International Day of Democracy special, please click here.