To the assembly of the Azerbaijani women - Baku, September 14, 1998

Distinguished representatives of the assembly! I congratulate you, the representatives of the Azerbaijani women on the occasion of the first assembly of women in our republic and wish the assembly successes.

The Azerbaijani women have always played an important role in our society. Our literature reflects wise and beautiful female characters. The female characters of "Kitabi-Dede Korkut" are symbols of great will and bravery.

There were a lot of talented poetesses, queens, female warriors in the history of Azerbaijan. In the Middle Peeters Ages Mahsati Ganjavi was famous abroad.

Great Nizami created such female characters as Shirin, Mehinbanu, Fitne and Nushabe. The Momina Khatun mausoleum by Ajami is not only a magnificent mausoleum, but a symbol of the tribute to women as well.

Inspiring our poets and masters, the Azerbaijani women have done their best for maintaining our native language, traditions, and developed our national culture. The Azerbaijani culture actually reflects the intellect and wisdom of women.

The ongoing processes and oil boom in Azerbaijan in the 19th century motivated the women to join the public life. Establishment of secular theatre, democratic press and new schools opened new opportunities for the development of the Azerbaijani women. Our women were granted suffrage right for the first time in our history. They have become active members of our society.

The Azerbaijani women had passed a glorious and complicated path of development in 1920-1991. The literacy of women was liquidated within a short time. Women became teachers, doctors, engineers. The women`s councils, the journal "Azerbaijani woman" played an important role in the women movement. The Azerbaijani women were represented in education, science and culture along with the men.

The Azerbaijani women went through the difficulties because of the Armenian aggression against Azerbaijan and occupation of 20 per cent of the territories. The break of economic relations, transition period created a lot of problems for women in every Azerbaijani family. Because of some internal and external forces, Azerbaijan faced a civil war. Women played an important role in strengthening statehood. They demonstrated it during the October events of 1994 and in the March events of 1995.

The first Constitution of Azerbaijan adopted in 1995 provided equal rights for men and women and created a legal basis for the women to take an active part in the democratization process.

The participation of women in the solution of the problems of our country is of special importance. A state committee on the problems of women was founded. There are a number of women organizations. The Azerbaijani women have a common goal to develop Azerbaijan.

Four assemblies of the women of Azerbaijan took place in the 20th century. Each of them was an important stage in the women movement in Azerbaijan.

I hope that this assembly on the threshold of the 21st century will have an important role in the history of Azerbaijan.

I wish the assembly successes, each of you health and happiness.

Heydar Aliyev, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan.