Speech of the President of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev at the ceremony dedicated to the International Women`s Day - Azerbaijani State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre, March 7, 1998

Dear ladies! Dear sisters!

I congratulate you, all the Azerbaijani women on the International Women`s Day. I wish you health, happiness and successes. The Women`s Day is a great holiday for the whole country. It is an opportunity for all the citizens of Azerbaijan to express their wishes to the women. I also want to say that our women are dear to us. Their role in our society is very important. Important events took place in Azerbaijan in the 20th century; women played a great role in those events. After the establishment of the Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan in 1918, the Azerbaijani women were granted suffrage. This was later implemented into life, and the women contributed to the development of Azerbaijan as its equal citizens. The history of the Azerbaijani women is very old and rich. We have a very rich history and culture. There were prominent women in the Azerbaijani history. We are very proud of the achievements of the Azerbaijani women in the 20th century. They received the right to live free, gained equal rights in all the fields and used their potentials for serving our people. We are proud that the women play an important role in every sphere of our society. We have to mention the contributions of the women to our achievements in the 20th century.

In general, the number of women exceeds the number of men in Azerbaijan. It is very good. In some spheres, including education, medicine, culture there are more women than men. The number of female students at our universities is also higher than the number of male students. It proves that the women enjoy their rights in our country. We are proud of having prominent female scientists, writers, singers, composers, artists, doctors, cultural and political figures. Our women suffered from the recent difficulties in the country. Armenia has occupied a part of our territories. Because of the Armenian aggression over one million Azerbaijani citizens have been forced to leave their homes. Most of them live in tents, in hard conditions now.

The women in refugee families are burdened with difficulties most. Maintaining family, brining up children are responsbilities of women. Everyone must respect women. Women are respected much in Azerbaijan. The notion of mother is sacred for each person. That is why, we call our homeland motherland. There is nothing more important than motherland. Respecting and repaying mother must be the responsibility of every person. Today I want to mention mothers of martyrs and soldiers particularly. Mother is the beginning of everything in life. Mother brings up heroes who defend motherland. Mother brings up also intelligent and talented people. Mother is the pillar of family. Happiness of each family depends on mother`s role and activity. There may be difficulties in human life. I think that mothers are the happiest people in the world. Our duty is to respect mothers. Mothers, women must be respected in the society. As I noted, the Azerbaijani women contributed to all the spheres of our life. I also highly appreciate the activity of our women in the state structures. They are very successful in their activity in the state bodies. Out of 124 members of the Azerbaijani parliament elected in 1995, 15 are female. It is 12 percent of the members of the parliament. It exceeds the number in the parliaments of some leading countries. In the past, when Azerbaijan was a part of the Soviet Union, our parliaments used to have female members, as well.

The number of the female members of the parliament demonstrates the active role of women in our country. Our parliament was convened in 1992. It consisted of 50 members then. When I was elected chairman of the parliament in June 1993, there was only one female member out of 50. Later two more women were elected to the parliament. However, we have 15 female members in the parliament now. Each of them is a respectful person in our society.

It was a remarkable event that Azerbaijan joined the Convention on Elimination of All the Forms of Discrimination against Women in 1995. Some countries have not joined this convention yet, as they could not meet its requirements. But we can be proud that our country joined this convention. The Azerbaijani women make us happy and optimistic. We have many prominent female figures of culture, who develop our culture. They represent our country abroad on a high level.

Sometimes we do not appreicate our women. Because we are used to them. But they demonstrate the high level of our culture abroad. The same words can be applied to our female scientists, stateswomen, sportswomen as well. A lot can be said about women. On my way to this meeting I was thinking of how to express my feelings. But I don`t want to take your time. I always highly appreciate the activity of the Azerbaijani women in the society. Our women are brave and partiotic. They love motherland. They love justice. I witnessed it in October 1994. Then some armed forces attempted an overthrow. In the evening I addressed the Azerbaijani people and invited it to defend our state. Two hours later there were thousands of people in front of the Presidential Palace. That square was too crowded. All worried. All wanted to defend Azerbaijan. Witnessing the courage of all the people, I made sure that no force can overthrow our state. There were a lot of women of all ages in the crowd. Some had even brought children. Then I saw how brave our women are. The patriotism of our women is very high. Because they convey these features to their children. We need this. Now we are creating and developing our independent state. We need to strengthen our statehood. Patriotism is the highest concept for every Azerbaijani. Women implement their tasks in order to achieve these goals.

The Azerbaijani women are very beautiful. I don`t mean only visual beauty. The beauty of each nation is represented by women. Now we can see the whole world. But for me no women of any part of the world can be compared with our women. As the prominent Russian writer Chekhov said, everything in human must be beautiful. This beauty is of special importance for human. The beauty of nation emerges from the beauty of human. I always think of the morals and beauty of our nation. We can be proud that our nation is beautiful. Our nation is not less beautiful than other nations. Our nation is talented and brave. I hope that the future will confirm my words. The beauty of the women is of great importance for our nation. Every poet praises woman`s beauty. We must love and respect women. I congratulate you and wish you the best. Thank you.