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New York, 20 Apr 05

Mrs. Annan, left, with Mrs. Tibaijuka
Women from around the world warned delegates at the 13th Session of the Commission for Sustainable Development on Tuesday that they had to have more empowerment, better protection against crime, better security of tenure and better access to water and sanitation if sustainable development was to be achieved.

The women addressed the New York meeting in video and personal presentations at a parallel meeting arranged by UN-HABITAT. The event, Unheard Voices of Women: Water, Sanitation and Human Settlements drew a range of personalities including Mrs. Nane Annan, wife of the UN Secretary-General, Mr. Kofi Annan, the Ugandan Minister of State for Water, Ms. Maria Mutagamba, the Minister of Public Utilities and the Environment for Trinidad and Tobago, Ms. Pennelope Beckles Barabos, and Ms. Hilde Frafjord Johnson, Norwegian Minister of International Development.

Ms. Anita Miya from the Aga Khan Planning and Building Service in India, told the audience how 64 percent of the population of India did not have access to adequate sanitation and that in most slums, 250 families or more share as single toilet facility so filthy that most prefer to defecate in the open. Mrs. Mariela Garcia Vargas, of the Instituto Cinara, Colombia, said the situation was similar for Latin American slum dwellers who suffered for years from ill health due to dirty water. What was worse, women in slums could not get their requests for clean water and sanitation funded by their communities because few women were part of the decision making process.

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