President of Liberia, Madam Ellen Johnson with Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka, Executive Director UN-Habitat
Over 800 women leaders from all over the world gathered in Monrovia, Liberia at the weekend to ensure that gender concerns remain high on the international agenda.
Organized to coincide with the International Women's Day commemorated on March 8, the International Colloquium for Women’s Empowerment, Leadership Development, International Peace and Security in Monrovia was spearheaded by Africa’s first female President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia.
The meeting, co-chaired by President Sirleaf and President Tarja Halonen of Finland, brought together 400 international participants and 400 Liberians. The included leaders, government ministers, CEOs, the leaders of international and UN agencies, non-governmental organizations and community leaders.
The idea was to create an environment for women and their champions around the world to discuss, learn, demonstrate and act on the benefits and lessons learned from women in leadership.
UN-HABITAT Executive Director Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka said that adaptation to climate change would become a household name as poor communities cope with its impacts. She expressed concern at the lack of focus on urbanisation in the conference agenda, despite the fact that developing countries especially Africa and South East Asia were facing rapid urban growth.
’’It is high time that the women’s movement pays more attention to urbanisation and the urban agenda. Until our towns and cities are properly planned with adequate provisions for all, we will not be able to advance the gender equality issue for women living in urban areas,” she said. “Until we slow down and reverse slum formation, we will not be able to attain gender equality in health or education for women and girls living in urban areas. Until we learn to speak the language of municipal officials, and engage urban planners, architects, economists, lawyers, utility companies and other service providers, the right to the city will remain an elusive goal for women and girls living in urban areas.’’
President Sirleaf was sworn in in January 2006 as Africa first elected head female of state.