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04. Mai 2005Dear Women without Borders!

The US culture critic Neil Postman, describes impressively in his thesis, "The Second Enlightenment", how the idea of education as a national project was already launched in the 18th century. An educated bourgeoisie was identified as the foundation of a national state with democratic claims, a belief that is today being postulated with new urgency. Education and economy are strongly linked together; tertiary education is already internationally looking, and competitive as never before.

The capabilities of youth are being measured by global standards; reduced knowledge of cultural techniques is raising national debates, because the intellectual capital is today recognised as the most important resource of any country.

This is the big chance for the new generation of women, which already impressively gained ground within the whole education section over the last years. In natural sciences, technology and economy – all of these areas will decisively shape our development in the next years – the young courageous, inquisitive generation of women has to reach a critical presence. Why? Advancement at every price, uncontrolled growth, conventional and atomic arms races are threats which only can be limited through a critical ratio and willingness to negotiate. A world order based on rational is the legacy of enlightenment. Women are the hopeful representatives of the necessarily sceptical rational. Our world needs critical thinkers and ‘thinkettes’, who bring their competence into all sceptical and critical thought as a basis for shaping the world.

One of those critical voices is Emma Bonino, who tirelessly uses her position, as EU parliamentarian, for women. She is as provocative as she was 25 years ago, when I met her as a young parliamentarian in Rome, where she founded the Radical Party. In her Brussels office - the day before the conference ‘Ten Years After the Barcelona Process: Empowering Women as Catalyst for Economic Development’, which Bonino organised together with the Arab International Women’s Forum – I sit opposite an energy loaded Emma. She is despite – or perhaps because of – all her struggles, not grown tired, but she is impatient and annoyed over the cosiness of the younger generation. One feels, when she speaks, that she would rather give a great shove out in to the world, to all those women who won’t let go from their personal dependencies, or young people who make themselves comfortable chez hotel Mama. She is an example for all that is possible: she was adventurous enough to learn Arabic in the middle of her life, to move to Egypt to get to know a new world from the inside.

And also in Iran, confronted with constant repression women do not let their mouths be closed: the professor Elahee Koulaee, the vice-president of the reformist party Mosharekat, one of the most courageous and consequent voices of the new political women’s guild in Iran, didn’t stop working after the party was excluded although under great pressure. She puts her whole strength in to co-shaping the difficult course of reform in her country, and she does not allow herself to lose courage: “As in every similar society there are just many problems lying on the path to desired reforms”.

The lawyer and women’s rights activist Shadi Sadr, is raising her voice even against the centre or power and challenging President Khatami with an open letter calling for his comment on the ban which prevents her personally from travelling abroad. A participant of the WwB conference: Women Included! in November 2003, she is becoming the hope for a new Iranian civil society.

We wish ourselves and our world, many Emmas, Elahees and Shadis.

With confident greetings

Edit Schlaffer and the Women without Borders team.

P.S.: This Sunday we celebrate Mother´s Day! On this occasion the organisation Save The Children is publishing its yearly report on the State of the World´s Mothers. This year one of the outcomes is that Africa is the worst continent to be a mother or child in, and Mali is one of the worst countries, where one in eight children will die before seeing their first birthday.
Read more: www.savethechildren.org/mothers/report_2005/index.asp


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