First Minister outlines Scottish vision of women empowered globally through cooperation
NICOLA STURGEON, First Minister of Scotland, told experts in women’s rights and war resolution at the UN today (Wednesday 5 April) that Scotland as an independent small nation could play its part in contributing to reconstruction and responsible diplomacy.
At a meeting on conflict resolution and women in war, she outlined the ways in which the Scottish Government had aided gender justice at home and planned to contribute to the fight for greater gender equality abroad.
Her speech to the UN meeting coincided with the announcement that £1.2m would be spent on training women from Scotland and other members nations in matters of mediation and reconstruction after the devastation of war.
The trip also comes at the same time as UK Prime Minister Theresa May makes her way through the Gulf region, courting Saudi crown princes and their allies, in order to sell weapons and secure trade post-Brexit. This move has been criticised by NGOs that damn Saudi Arabia as one of the responsible actors for wars which have killed tens of thousands in neighbouring nations such as Yemen and Syria, causing women and children to starve or flee.
Sturgeon said to the UN: “If women are not around the table when peace is secured, the priorities of reconstruction will be half measured and the development out of war will stall.”
She pointed to previous programmes such as The Women in Conflict Fellowship, last August, which focused on issues facing women involved in conflict around the world and featured renowned speakers, mediators and gender specialists. In these sessions Scottish and international politicians, mediators, diplomats, authors and artists developed activities and practical training around defending the rights of women in the aftermath of armed conflict.
“Scotland is not an independent nation. I tell you nothing new when I say that I hope it will be. But I want Scotland to play its part.” Nicola Sturgeon
The aim of the fellowship was to build and support a community of female activists working in mediation and dialogue, or issues relating to gender-based violence in countries affected by the Arab Spring, including Syria, Yemen and Iraq.
In response to a challenging questions about whether her search for Scottish independence conflicted with the values of the UN, she responded: “One of the reasons I want us to be self-governing is precisely because I want us to play a constructive and better role in the wider world. The greatest threat to Scotland’s internationalism is a UK hard Brexit which threatens those UN values.
“Scotland is not an independent nation. I tell you nothing new when I say that I hope it will be. But I want Scotland to play its part.”
“The greatest threat to Scotland’s internationalism is a UK hard Brexit which threatens those UN values.” Nicola Sturgeon
In this, the first minister continues to use the trip to the US not only to build trade relationships but also market the idea of a separate political identity on the global stage at a time when tensions around Brexit are on the rise.
The gathering of diplomats then turned their focus on to Syria and the topic of refugees and how women hold a crucial role in helping mend the trauma of war as well as the practical element to rebuilding their nations.
Nicola Sturgeon will remain in the US to give another address on promoting Scotland’s universities in the country.
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