(Please check against actual speech delivered)
Your Excellencies, distinguished Commissioners and Dear Friends,
First of all, I wish to thank you for your enthusiastic participation in our event today. I am delighted that the number of official participants to Expo has now reached 134, and I am particularly pleased that the number of Women General Commissioners is increasing as well, now at 25 and I hope that this number will keep on growing.
As you all know, the theme chosen for Expo 2015 is “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life”, and whenever food and nutrition are mentioned we immediately think of women and their central role in guaranteeing food for their households and communities. Hence, we must conclude that women’s participation in policy development is key to achieve food security.
The theme of Expo embraces other issues of great concern to the entire world such as quality of food and its consequences on health, access to water, environment and climate change, innovation and technology. And again, to effectively address these issues, the legal, economic and political empowerment of women is of paramount importance and for this reason it is at the top of my political agenda.
Last week in New York, during the 68th session of the UN Genera Assembly, I took part in special events on the progress done so far to achieve the MDGs, and what emerged is that the thinking of many countries is to include gender equality and women’s empowerment into the post-2015 development agenda, which underlines the global conviction that no sustainable development is feasible without empowered women.
With this in mind, it a great pleasure for me to announce and present the Women for Expo, a Project promoted with Deputy Minister Marta Dassù. The project aims to ensure that women are actively involved in Expo 2015 and to underscore that women’s empowerment is essential to address our common challenges. We therefore have invited a number of distinguished personalities from across the world to join the International Board of the Women in Diplomacy Committee that we’ve set up last May. I am very glad to announce that the board is currently composed of 21 members. Beside me there’s one of them, Vandana Shiva; to mention some of the other members we have: Hanna Tetteh, Foreign Minister of Ghana; Patricia Espinona, Former Secretary of Foreign Affairs of Mexico; Dlamini Zuma, Chair of the African Union Commission; Ertharin Cousin the Executive Director of the World Food Program; Samia Nkrumah, member of parliament of Ghana; Elisabeth Guigou, President of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the French National Assembly and Cecile Kyenge, Italy’s Minister for Integration, and many others (The entire list of board members is attached in case you wish to mention all of them)
Along with the Board members, from now till 2015 we will convene a number of conferences and events in Italy and abroad to draw the public’s and decision maker’s attention to the importance of tackling the future global challenges under the gender lens. Our first appointment is on November 14 in Rome: a side event on gender and food security on occasion of the High Preparatory Meeting for the Second International Conference on Nutrition at FAO. Then, a workshop dedicated to the Latin American experience on food security will be held on 11 December, on occasion of the Italian-Latin America and Caribbean Summit. Looking ahead, in 2014 we are planning to hold an International Conference in Kenya and a workshop with our Asian partners during the EU-ASEAN Summit in Milan.
We are also inviting international women’s organizations and associations as well as UN agencies to hold their annual meetings and congresses in Milan in 2015. (The roadmap of all activities is attached)
I wish to take this opportunity to invite you to join our efforts encouraging women in you respective countries and spheres of activity to get involved in Women for Expo. Let’s build a network for a productive exchange of ideas and perspectives to ensure that Expo Milano 2015 becomes an international forum where the issue of women’s empowerment is at the forefront.