Diplomacy at work

Ukraine continues to be on top of our minds these days, now also as a direct consequence of the ongoing Russian aggression. These are truly very dramatic days.

Our thoughts continously go to the Ukrainian people  – a people longing for a better life, wanting to live in a normal, democratic prosperous European country.

When these lines are written the Heads of State and Government of the European Union have just sent some very clear messages.  http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_data/docs/pressdata/en/ec/141372.pdf

Diplomacy is at work in all possible ways. Let’s just hope and pray that the progress that so far has been lacking will emerge the coming days. Two weeks ago we lit candles for Ukraine. Those candles are still there in our hearts.

Ukraine is for obvious reasons on top of the agenda for our Embassy. Still, other activities are ongoing in parallell of a very different nature.

I have for instance spent two days in Poznań (regarded as the wood capital of Poland) together with six Swedish companies, Swedish Wood and Business Sweden in a series of activities under the headline: “Usage of wood in sustainable construction based on Swedish and Polish experiences”.

One of them was a roundtable with Deputy Ministers Janusz Żbik from Poland and Magnus Kindbom from Sweden where the advantages of wood were clearly described. I learned a lot myself.

It is fast. It shortens the construction time on site which saves money. And it is also the only renewable construction material. It isolates better than traditional materials. Hence it helps us solve environmental problems like CO2-emissions. http://www.swedenabroad.com/pl-PL/Embassies/Warsaw/Wiadomoci-i-wydarzenia/Wiadomoci/O-budownictwie-drewnianym-w-Poznaniu-sys/

Hopefully there will be more cooperation in this field between our countries and companies in the years to come. There is clearly a potential.

Back in the Embassy I am preparing for the International Women’s Day tomorrow and our event addressing gender stereotypes: “Dzień kobiet w stereo – szwedzkie i polskie przełamywanie stereotypów”. We organise it jointly with Institute of Public Affairs and the Women’s Congress and are happy to see Deputy Marshal of the sejm Wanda Nowicka among the guest speakers – as well as the Swedish expert Barakat Ghebrehawariat from the organisation “Pośrednictwo sprawiedliwości (Rättvisförmedlingen)”.

I will come back next week, hopefully, with some impressions from the event. But waiting for that I am happy to share a recent article by our Minister of European Affairs Birgitta Ohlsson about gender eqality as smart economics in Rzeczpospolita: http://www.ekonomia.rp.pl/artykul/705506,1092270-Co-ma-feminizm–do-zwalczania-kryzysu.html

The Women’s Day is a good idea for sure. But it should always be remembered: What counts is what happens all over the world the remaining 364 days of the year.

One part of that reality is the terrible fact that each year hundreds of thousands of women die of causes related to pregnancies and childbirth. Every minute 35 women get chronic injuries for the same reasons. And one third of all women have some time been forced to sex.

It is against this background that the message from Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women, should be read: “We can no longer  afford to hold back half the world’s population. The 21st century  has to be different for every woman and girl in the world. She must know that  to be born a girl is not the start of a life of hardship and disadvantage. Together  we must make sure that: SHE is Safe and  Secure from gender-based violence. SHE has Human  rights that are respected, including reproductive rights. SHE is Empowered  economically and in every way through Education, Equal opportunity,  participation and leadership. This is the SHE  imperative to which I call on you to commit.”

Tomorrow should be a day of reflection around these realities and what we all can do. But then the days for action should follow. We need that action for women’s rights, for reproductive health and rights, for equality in all spheres of life more than ever.



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