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Monday, September 25, 2006

Security in the 21st Century: Women Leaders and Global Challenges

Women Leaders Intercultural Forum - Columbia University, New York, USA

Bismillah Al Rahman Al Rahim.

Greetings from Amman, and welcome, everyone, to this forum on women leaders and global challenges. I am sorry I cannot be there in person for what I am sure will be a wonderful discussion. I know from experience that any conference with Mary Robinson and Mahnaz Afkhami on the program is bound to be good!

I understand that among the themes you are focusing on is security – and the role that women can and must play in building a safer world.

And I think it is apparent to all of us – but especially in my part of the world – that the ongoing conflicts in the Middle East… and pervasive suspicion between East and West… have compromised security for us all.

We need to fight back – not with bullets and bombs… not with angry accusations or stereotypes – but with the same spirit of open-mindedness and cooperation your gathering represents.

We need to find ways to amplify the voices of moderation in all our countries – and to cultivate areas of common ground, instead of building barriers and walls.

And I believe women can bring unique values, skills, and strength to these challenges – as communicators and negotiators… peacebuilders and priority setters – as we have seen around the world, from Northern Ireland to Rwanda to Colombia.

But to be successful, we have to stick together. We have to support one another… not only at home, but across the boundaries of geography, culture, and race… and show by example that what humanity has in common is more powerful than anything that divides us.

Your conference is a wonderful place to begin. I look forward to the journey, with you.

Thank you.