BELLA ABZUG'S LEGACY SHALL ENDURE, SECRETARY-GENERAL PLEDGES AT TRIBUTE CELEBRATING HER LIFE
BELLA ABZUG'S LEGACY SHALL ENDURE, SECRETARY-GENERAL PLEDGES AT TRIBUTE CELEBRATING HER LIFE19980424 Following is the text of Secretary-General Kofi Annan's statement delivered today at a tribute to Bella Abzug, who died on 31 March:
It is my great privilege and honour to welcome you to this tribute to the remarkable Bella Abzug. Bella Abzug was a fixture at the United Nations during this past decade. She was here first and foremost to ensure that women are not confined to the kitchen table, but are present at every table: the table that deals with economics, the table that copes with globalization, the table where peace negotiations take place. She liked to say that since Noah we have done everything in pairs, except government. As I look around this hall, I can see the change she has done so much to bring about. As Secretary-General I am committed to furthering that change at all levels of the United Nations. Bella Abzug was also passionate about safeguarding our environment. Unable to find sufficient references to women in the work leading up to the 1992 Earth Summit, she made sure that Rio [Earth Summit] will always be remembered as the United Nations Conference where women were recognized as full partners in our quest for environmental security and as a force to be reckoned with at the United Nations. All of us here today know the Women's Environment and Development Organization, which Bella Abzug co-founded and co-chaired. All of us here today also know about the 1991 Congress for a Healthy Planet convened by WEDO in Miami, Florida, which produced the Women's Action Agenda for the 21st Century and led to the creation of the International Women's Caucus. It was at Rio that the Caucus carved out political space for non- governmental organizations within the United Nations, and then seized that space. There has been no turning back. At Vienna, Cairo, Copenhagen, Beijing and Istanbul, the Women's Caucus has provided ordinary women, non-governmental organizations and others with a voice they never had before. As we look forward to Rome, a Women's Caucus is working to ensure gender justice in the proposed international criminal court. There are many ways to celebrate the life of Bella Abzug. She was a fine lawyer, a loving wife and mother, a fearless politician, a loyal friend and a woman of vision and integrity. Like her, I believe in a partnership between non-governmental organizations and the United Nations and in a "peoples' United Nations". In welcoming you here today, I see a gathering made possible largely because of Bella's efforts to open our doors. I pledge to do my utmost to guarantee that those doors remain open from this day forth. Bella's legacy shall endure.
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