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Athens, 21 March 2024

Welcome address by Hellenic Parliament President at Women Political Leaders (WPL) Summit

The pivotal role played by the Women Political Leaders (WPL) Network at the international level in contributing to the progress and prosperity of societies, by strengthening the position of women in them, was highlighted today in the Senate Hall of the Hellenic Parliament, during the Summit that was held on the theme: "Democracy for the 21st century". 

"Approximately two and a half millennia of efforts and struggles, on the part of women, had to pass in order to claim your participation in public affairs and equal treatment with men", said the President of the Hellenic Parliament, Mr Constantine Tassoulas, in his welcome address, emphasising that the institution of the Women Political Leaders Network "is the largest global organisation of Women Political Leaders, which brings together some of the most powerful women politicians globally". 

Mr Tassoulas praised the work of the President and Founder of the Network, Mrs Silvana Koch-Mehrin, while making a brief historical review, from Aristophanes' Women at the Ecclesia and the Suffragette movement, to women in the modern world conquering the right to vote. 

The President of the Hellenic Parliament made special mention of Mrs Eleni Skoura, the first femal member of the Hellenic Parliament, elected in January 1953, Mrs Anna Psarouda-Benaki, the first woman president of the Hellenic Parliament in 2004 and, of course, the President of the Hellenic Republic, Mrs Katerina Sakellaropoulou, the first woman elected to the country's highest office. 

Mr Tassoulas said that he was very happy that the Summit taking place in Athens has as its theme "Democracy for the 21st century", explaining that: "Democracy is not a static concept. It requires constant attention, care and empowerment. That is why the strengthening of democracy is a strengthening of culture in our lives and a strengthening of the institutions that support it."

And he added a phrase by the former President of the Hellenic Republic, Mr Constantinos Tsatsos: "As long as the moral and social culture of man develops, so will democracy". 

In his conclusion, the President of the Hellenic Parliament, on the occasion of the World Poetry Day, distributed and recited to the members of the Summit the poem "In Sparta" by the great Greek poet Constantine Cavafy. The poem, which stated that in 230 BC the King of Sparta, Cleomenes, seeking to dominate the Peloponnese, asked the King of Egypt, Ptolemy for help, who, as a guarantee for the alliance, demanded his mother, Kratisikleia, as a hostage! And although Cleomenes could not tell her, she accommodated him for the good of the country!

"This was the spirit of patriotism that comes from the very depths of our history and has to do with a distinguished woman. And I'm glad that I'm addressing distinguished women here today..." were the characteristic words of Mr. Tassoulas.

The poem was distributed in the English translation (by Evangelos Sahperoglou) from the corresponding edition of Cavafy's poems by the Onassis Foundation (see below).



The Chairperson of the Summit and Ambassador of the Hellenic Parliament to the WPL Network, Mrs Sevasti (Sevi) Voloudaki, during her remarks, sounded the alarm for democracy, stating that: "it is under attack from a militaristic version of populism that uses as a plausible justification the real problems of societies ". And Mrs Voloudaki concluded: 

"In order to cope with this, the active participation of citizens and young people in the electoral process and the political life is required. Abstention needs to be addressed. And the participation of citizens must be encouraged."



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