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Women: a strong voice.

From March 8 to 14, a host of prominent women from government and the private sector, including writers, artists, journalists, scientists, business executives and professors, convened in Caracas, Venezuela for a World Congress on The Woman and The Quincentennial. According to Ana Maria Perera, Coordinator in the United States of the Woman and the Quincentennial Civil Association, "this international event constitutes a central activity for the participation of the Iberian Peninsula woman, the American woman and women from different regions of the world in the commemoration of the half century of the discovery of America".

Designed as a forum for the exchange of ideas and to encourage networking among women, the gathering was sponsored by the Congress of Venezuela, the Women's Advisory Commission to the President of Venezuela, the Inter-American Commission of Women (CIM), which is a specialized agency of the Organization of American States, and the United Nations Education, Science and Culture Organization (UNESCO). Over 1,500 participants attended the week long affair, including 200 delegates from five different continents and numerous individual representatives from Venezeula.

With the central theme of "Women towards the Twenty-First Century: Expectations, Participation and Challenges", the Congress addressed important issues in the juridical, political, economic, social, cultural and religious fields. Discussions on the role of women in strengthening democracy, the evolution of the family, and health care and education, shed light on the tremendous contributions of women to their societies. Most delegates agreed that despite these accomplishments and a transformation of traditional roles, women continue to be dismally underrepresented at the decision making level. Venezuela has made great strides in this area, with women constituting almost 27 percent of the National Congress, the highest percentage in the Hemisphere. Furthermore, women occupy more than 40 percent of all executive positions in the public sector. These are impressive statistics when compared to the United States, where women are 51 percent of the population, yet only 27 of the 435 members of the House of Representatives and two of the 100 Senators are women.

At the opening ceremony in Caracas, Maizie Barker-Welch, a Senator from Barbados and President of CIM, expressed her appreciation for the remarkable work and dedication of Ana Lucina Garcia Maldonado, organizer of this special World Congress and Deputy in the Venezuelan Congress. Honoring Maldonado with a plaque, Barker-Welch remarked "This set of flags of OAS member countries should serve to represent our unity in our diversity." Linda Poole, Executive Director of CIM and a delegate to the Congress, added "women's issues cut across geographical and political boundaries to deal with the human dilemmas we all face." Poole went on to say "this Congress provides a unique opportunity for women from different walks of life to share their personal experiences." She noted that the Congress of Venezuela has approved funding for the publication of thirty-three volumes covering five hundred years of the history of women, including a special volume on the history of CIM.

In a closing session, James Kiernan, Director of the OAS Office for the Commemoration of the Quincentennial, presented Deputy Maldonado with a medallion in recognition of her support of international activities for the commemoration. A second Congress, to be held in Spain, is planned for 1993.
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Title Annotation:World Congress on The Woman and The Quincentennial
Publication:Americas (English Edition)
Date:Mar 1, 1992
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