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Intervention of Mrs. Carolyn Handschin on the occasion of the inauguration of the Balkans Peace Embassy

Thank you. and congratulations for this place of hope. I am amazed that each time I come to Albania, I see that the quality of life has improved, young people are bright. You may be surprised, but I don’t say that as a complete outsider because the Founder of the Women’s Federation for World Peace International (WFWPI) “matched” Switzerland to Albania in 1989, and many Swiss have in small ways supported the development of Albania over the years, each time bringing back positive news. (We actually have two statues of your remarkable national hero, Skanderbeg, in our home).

I am reminded of an event in the Albanian Parliament in 2018 co-organized by the Women’s Federation and the then Vice Chair of the Albanian Parliament, Hon Vasilika Hysi. We brought nearly 100 women leaders from throughout Europe and the Middle East to meet with representatives of the Albanian Parliament to discuss, “Women’s Active Participation in Decision-making and Nation-building”.

It was remarkable, because of the quality of discussions, and depth of listening to each other, mutual concern. That is not always an atmosphere that is easy to create. We can do that here. One discussion that day that struck me the most, and to which I have referred to among my colleagues at the UN in Geneva, was: “as women rise to positions of influence, sometimes replacing men, how can we uphold the dignity of men, not repeat the mistakes of the past, but move forward together?" This Peace Embassy should attract discussions like this, where enlightened research on these issues can be carried out.

Also, our bright youth need a place to meet and stimulate each other for the good, and practice leadership. There is an unprecedented call for youth engagement at the UN, and we need voices from this region to participate. WFWPI working with other international NGO’s and is coordinating a Youth Conference in January, preparing for the 66th Commission on the Status of Women in March. Youth from throughout the world will meet virtually over several days to discuss the issues most relevant to the environment and their recommendations will be passed on directly to the governments.

I sincerely hope that the use of this building, so lovingly prepared, can exceed all expectations.

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