Delegates representing forty member countries of Socialist International’s (SI) Women division convened the organization’s Bureau meeting in Athens–Greece January 27-28.
SI Women is composed of 148 international organizations of the socialist–social democratic–and labor parties affiliated with the SI.
Armenian Revolutionary Federation representatives included Hripsime Haroutiounian–Marie Rose Kevorkian–Maria Titizian–and Tira Tsougala.
SI Women chair and European Parliament member from Italy–Pia Elda Locatelli–opened the meeting under the theme: "Women promoting universal values in a world of different cultural realities."
Nora Katseli–a leading figure of PASOK (Panhellenic Socialist Movement)–and a member of Greek parliament welcomed guests–along with PASOK leader and former foreign minister of Greece George Papandreou.
Papandreou told the gathering one of the key changes made during his presidency of PASOK was establishing that women constitute 40% of the party’s elected bodies.
"Women promote global values in a world with diverse cultural realities. This issue confirms the importance of women–the added value they offer–the policy and the capacity to build new channels of communication and hope" he said–adding that "our Movement became synonymous with drastic institutional changes in Greece regarding [gender] equality."
He revealed that of the 750 million illiterate people in the world–two-thirds are women–while 900 million of the total 1.3 billion living below the poverty level–are also women.
"I believe that if more women held positions of responsibility and power–we would not have such phenomena," he said.
"It is only with new concepts regarding a woman’s role that we can begin to talk about a different social model–a different model of power–a different model of human relations–a different model of governance–democratic–humane–and just," he concluded.
Representatives from Algeria–Armenia–Bulgaria–and Greece presented key reports to the meeting’s theme.
In her report–Armenia’s Maria Titizian addressed the role of women in the 115-year history of the ARF: from its founding to specifics in its policy statement–as well as a key decision during its 1909 regional meeting in Dikranagerd to target women members.
She noted that the values the ARF promotes–such as economic and political freedom–democracy and freedom–equality–labor equality–education–are now considered universal values upheld by the Charter of the United Nations–and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
She stressed that an approach based on universal values could even resolve conflicts in the South Caucasus and prevent future conflicts in the region.
"The conflict in Mountainous Karabagh began in 1918 when the population wanted to join the Republic of Armenia. Azerbaijan continued its anti-Armenian campaign during the Soviet years–and finally decided to use arms to repress Armenia’s who protected themselves and eventually declared independence? As long as these conflicts are not resolved based on universal values–these values are–in fact–threatened."
Titizian also spoke of protecting human rights and democracy in the Caucasus and how these values directly affect cultural diversity–historical cultural values–and the protection of the world’s cultural heritage.