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World Russia: World Peace and Women On Inter-Parliamentary Union's Agenda

Prague, 10 April 1997 (RFE/RL) - One hundred women parliamentarians from around the world have called to reverse the current situation in which they say men dominate global political life.

Meeting yesterday in Seoul at the Korean Parliament, members of the Inter Parliamentary Union (IPU) -- the world organization of parliamentarians -- adopted a resolution urging governments, parliaments and political parties to enact measures to better reflect and interpret the world population in its dual composition. They also called for these measures to be carried out in a spirit of partnership, a consolidating factor of democracy.

With women making up more than a half of world population, a recent IPU study showed that only 11.7 percent on average of parliamentary seats in the world are occupied by women, while only 7.1 percent of all parliamentary assemblies are presided over by a woman. And, according to the IPU, 11 percent of political party heads, and less than one-third of party board members, are women. The resolution proposes that a partnership watch group, composed of two men and two women MP's be established within the IPU's Executive Committee, to ensure that interests and visions of men and women are taken equally into account in all IPU's activities. The resolution urges those countries where women are barred by law from taking part in the electoral process to remove all such obstacles. The meeting of women parliamentarians also debated in depth the question of education as a means to prevent the global sexual exploitation of children.

The proposals came on the eve of the IPU's 97th General conference in Seoul. The six-day event groups some 600 representatives of national parliaments from around the world. It highlights the Union's commitment to strengthening world peace and economic development.

The first main topic of discussion beginning today will be cooperation for world and regional security and stability, as well as for respect for all forms of the sovereignty and independence of states. This concerns a wide range of issues, such as conflict prevention and resolution, crisis management, parliamentary diplomacy, and the conversion of military forces and facilities for peaceful uses.

The second topic is to focus on measures required to change consumption and production patterns with a view to sustainable development and the third agenda item is safeguarding the status of Jerusalem. MP's also voted to include a fourth emergency item on the agenda -- the situations in Albania and Zaire.

All the topics will be the subject of a non-binding conference resolution, which is expected to be adopted next Monday (April 14). Various IPU committees are also to meet during the next six days to discuss subjects such as the defense of the human rights of parliamentarians, security and cooperation in the Mediterranean, the situation in Cyprus and Middle East peace.

Membership in the Geneva-based Inter-Parliamentary Union rose to 138 today, with the admission of three new parliaments -- Georgia, Tajikistan and Cambodia. Ukraine is attending the current conference session as an "observer," but expressed the hope of joining as a full-member in the next IPU conference, scheduled to be held in Cairo this September.