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Members of the Seimas

Speaker of the Seimas: ‘Dictatorships often fear modern women. Therefore, we must support them’

Press release, 23 September 2022 

Photo by Olga Posaškova, Office of the Seimas


Viktorija Čmilytė-Nielsen, Speaker of the Seimas, made a number of speeches at the events hosted by the United Nations General Assembly and focused on women’s political rights and leadership in the times of global challenges. In her speeches, she called for real action and women’s solidarity in the face of crises, urging for the discussions to translate into more than mere theoretical reflection.


‘We have seen the strength of Belarusian women over the past few years. We can see what is happening in Iran. We can see what Ukrainian women can and, in fact, do achieve. Global leaders, regardless of gender, must support such breakthroughs of freedom by more than mere speeches or declarations. They must help those initiatives become effective democratic breakthroughs where people raise their heads for their freedom,’ Ms Čmilytė-Nielsen said.


In the words of the Speaker of the Seimas, democracy and gender equality are closely interlinked. After all, the fight for democracy is the fight for women’s rights and the fight for women’s rights is a struggle for democracy. When it comes to women’s political rights and leadership, countries differ in terms of experiences, but in all countries democracy is closely linked to the status of women’s rights. More often than not, this is even associated with statehood. Ms Čmilytė-Nielsen illustrated these statements by an example from Lithuania.


‘Women’s struggle for political equality and suffrage in Lithuania in the late 19th and early 20th century correlates with the movement for the restoration of the independent state of Lithuania. As a result, the first temporary Constitution of the State of Lithuania guaranteed equal electoral and political rights to both men and women in as early as 1918. However, regardless of the developments in women’s rights over the years, it was only in 2009 that the first woman was elected as President of the Republic. Moreover, within 32 years of the independent Lithuania, only three women presided over the Seimas,’ Ms Čmilytė-Nielsen said.


She added that women are at the helm of three political parties currently forming a coalition government in Lithuania. ‘I tend to believe that this is an important factor that has prevented the coalition from failing at such a difficult time when crises go one after the other, starting from containment of the COVID-19 pandemic, instrumentalisation of migration, war in Ukraine and now the energy-related shock. From this experience and from my own personal involvement, I can say that women seek to resolve disagreements through negotiation. And today’s world definitely lacks peace and peaceful settlement of disputes,’ Ms Čmilytė-Nielsen claimed.


According to the Speaker of the Seimas, the UN mission to ensure a world order based on international law is therefore even more important. Ms Čmilytė-Nielsen welcomed the efforts of UN Secretary-General Antonónio Guterres to promote mediation as an important tool of conflict mitigation.

‘Every success story of mediation translates into less conflict, less human suffering and more funds for development. In this regard, I believe it is crucial to ensure that all mediation efforts receive consistent and adequate funding. For their part, countries should propose more women candidates to the UN Mediation Roster. Very often, mediation and peace processes are dominated by men. This is unfair, because conflicts have a disproportionate effect on women,’ Ms Čmilytė-Nielsen said.


She recalled the illegal presidential elections in Belarus two years ago and the ensuing civil society protests led by three women who became a symbol of the fight for freedom and democracy in Belarus.


‘However, this also raises the issue of solidarity among women around the world. Women in the world need to come together and support each other. If female world leaders would have been more personally involved in actions supporting civil society in Belarus, we might have been celebrating democracy there today. Unfortunately, instead of democracy in Belarus, there is a war in Ukraine, the main victims of which are, once again, women and children forced to flee the country ravaged by the war. To overcome this unprecedented crisis, solidarity between women is needed again,’ Ms Čmilytė-Nielsen pointed out.


On Thursday, the Speaker of the Seimas met with Karin Hulshof, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director for Partnerships, and delivered a presentation at the meeting of the Alliance Of Her and at networking reception hosted by the United Nations General Assembly.


Ms Čmilytė-Nielsen will conclude her visit in the US by a meeting with Rosemary A. Dicarlo, United Nations Deputy Secretary-General for Political Affairs, and Ilze Brands Kehris, Head of the UN Human Rights Office in New York.


Ilona Petrovė, Spokesperson for Viktorija Čmilytė-Nielsen, Speaker of the Seimas, tel.+ 370  5 239 6030, mob. + 370 698 42071, e-mail: [email protected],

   Last updated on 09/26/2022 16:53
   Monika Kutkaitytė