To the participants of the Non-Aligned Movement Conference on Advancing the Rights and Empowerment of Women
20 November 2023, 10:07
Dear Participants of the Conference,
I welcome you to the first-ever NAM Conference on Advancing the Rights and Empowerment of Women.
In 2019, with the unanimous support of all NAM Member States, Azerbaijan has been elected as a Chair of the Non-Aligned Movement – the second-largest international establishment after the United Nations. It is with the same unanimous decision that the Azerbaijani Chairmanship has been extended until the end of 2023. This was a high recognition of Azerbaijan's performance in the Movement. We highly appreciate the trust put in our country.
Throughout its Chairmanship, Azerbaijan, remaining committed to the Bandung Principles, made tremendous efforts to advance the Movement's agenda and boost its prestige on the international scene.
It is noteworthy that it was the Non-Aligned Movement that played a leading role in mobilizing global efforts in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. The special session of the UN General Assembly in response to COVID-19 was convened in December 2020, at the initiative of Azerbaijan.
We did not remain silent in the face of the policy of the vaccine nationalism pursued by some countries, and encouraged fair vaccine distribution. Driven by humanistic values, Azerbaijan has provided financial and humanitarian support to more than 80 countries, most of them being the NAM Member States. Moreover, Azerbaijan has allocated funding to support post-pandemic recovery in Africa and Small Island Developing States.
Significant steps have been taken towards further institutional development of the NAM during our Chairmanship. The NAM Parliamentary Network and the NAM Youth Organisation were established at Azerbaijan's initiative. I proposed creating the NAM Women Platform during the NAM Conference held this July in Baku.
Azerbaijan has also devoted special attention to the decolonization agenda. We have globally exposed the neo-colonial policy pursued by some countries, in particular by France, and demanded to put an end to this shameful practice.
Colonialism has also had an adverse impact on women's rights. In this regard, I welcome the organization of the side event on this topic, to be held in parallel to this conference.
Defending women's rights and empowerment of women stand high on the Non-Aligned Movement's agenda. The successive NAM documents, including the Final Document of the Baku Summit of 2019, place a particular focus on this topic, setting commitments for the Member States.
Invaluable contribution by women to public, political, social and humanitarian aspects of life, including the development of science and literacy, is undeniable. Throughout the centuries, Azerbaijani women have always been at the forefront of preserving our rich culture, traditions and family values, and raising a generation attached to their national roots. The first secular school for girls in the Muslim world was inaugurated in Baku back in 1901. Azerbaijan was the first republic in the Muslim world to grant women the right to vote in 1919, surpassing most European countries.
Advancing women's rights and empowering them in society and public governance have always been in the spotlight in Azerbaijan. Today, Azerbaijani women make valuable contributions to our country's prosperity and progress through their determined and multifaceted activities in the spheres such as science, education, healthcare, arts and other domains. Women account for 63% of the professorial staff in the higher education institutions. 70% of the medical personnel in public healthcare facilities are women. Women's representation in the local self-governing bodies is at 40%. The number of women entrepreneurs is growing thanks to the measures within the state-supported self-employment programs.
Liberation of our lands from a 30-year-long occupation by Armenia and gaining historic Victory was made possible by the sons that Azerbaijani women have raised in the spirit of patriotism.
Currently, one of the main priorities of the socio-economic development of Azerbaijan is ensuring the Great Return to its liberated territories. In this regard, the measures are undertaken towards providing the former internally displaced Azerbaijani women who have returned to their ancestral lands, with job opportunities.
The NAM has an important role to play in protecting women's rights. The establishment of the NAM Women Platform will invigorate this process.
We are nearing the end of our Chairmanship. It is with great pride that I state that despite being one of the youngest members of the Non-Aligned Movement, Azerbaijan will leave a successful legacy to the upcoming Chairmanships. Our country will continue its efforts to promote purposes and principles of the NAM at the international level.
I am confident that this landmark Conference will serve as a significant platform for fruitful discussions on advancing the rights and empowerment of women and will launch a new chapter of concerted activity to that end in the history of the Non-Aligned Movement.
I wish you all a successful Conference and a pleasant stay in the hospitable city of Baku.
President of the Republic of Azerbaijan
Baku, 18 November 2023