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". Mr President, Mrs De Keyser, ladies and gentlemen This year, within our European Initiative on Democracy and Human Rights, we are also focusing on issues such as equal treatment, women who are victims of gender-based violence in conflict zones, and the trafficking of women and children. So, there is quite an impressive amount of project proposals that are there. In total EUR 9.7 million are available for this campaign from the 2005 budget and this year’s budget. In addition, this year we will also be putting increased emphasis on gender in conflict prevention network funding. Here we have to encourage civil society, think-thanks and academia to provide external analytical experience. Then we have to see how we can implement that. first of all, I should like to thank the House very much for this important debate and the important report. The report mentions women as victims, women as instruments of war and women as instruments of peace. Indeed, we also see the three trends that are there, and I agree with you that all the legal instruments are already there, but very often what is necessary is much better implementation. We will all have to work towards that goal and I will promise to try to make a difference at least in the regions where I am responsible. We are fully committed to implementing UN Security Council Resolution 1325 of October 2000, on women, peace and security, where indeed all these issues mentioned. Your report also addresses the question of women in conflicts and as peace-builders from many different angles. I very much support this approach because women cannot only be seen as victims. Very often they are key players in promoting peace. For instance, in Palestine and Israel we see that women are coming together and they are those in the society that would like to go forward with peacemaking. The female suicide bomber is a striking example of the complexity of this issues, and a phenomenon that deserves further study. And as you said, very often it involves women who are somewhat isolated by their own societies and then, of course, who do not have any other chance, do not care for their lives anymore and then become suicide bombers. The Commission’s two-pronged approach to promoting gender equality abroad is also well reflected in the report. First, we take on board gender concerns in all policies and programmes – so, there is a sort of mainstreaming. Secondly, we also fund specific projects to promote women. I am convinced this approach will remain valid in the future. Both mainstreaming and specific actions will continue to be necessary, but it is also about changing the societies there. It is about changing the mentality of the societies, as you very rightly said. Mainstreaming is important because peace-building comprises this broad range of areas. These include peace negotiations, peacekeeping operations, demobilisation, disarmament, reintegration and rehabilitation. There, women always have their role – whether they are mothers, sisters, etc., women are there in the society and they see what is going on. Also very important are election observation missions, security sector reform, institution-building and, particularly, strengthening of civil society. We have also training programmes that can perhaps be enhanced in the future, where more than 800 Commission officials and other staff are involved in channelling the implementation of those programmes. Another example related to capacity-building, which is highly important here, is that we are supporting training in the area of crisis management, intended for Member State experts deployed in that field. Promoting gender equality in crisis management and conflict resolution is an integral part of this whole training. Gender aspects are there. When I say that supporting civil society organisations plays a key role, I think this is very true for instance for women in Bosnia and Kosovo, but also for training women in conflict resolution in Rwanda or Burundi and strengthening women’s active participation in peace processes around the world, such as for instance in Georgia and Colombia. Through ECHO, our humanitarian programme, we are also supporting several projects focusing on women in affected areas like Afghanistan, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo."@en1

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