It is a pleasure to write to you today with the news – as I am sure many of you know – that Aung San Suu Kyi will soon take her seat in parliament following her recent election in Myanmar. After many years in detention, this is a truly momentous event for Daw Suu Kyi, for her country and for her party.
While it would be premature to celebrate this news unreservedly, since there remain great challenges and grave humanitarian and human rights concerns, I am cautiously optimistic about the prospect for further reform and, ultimately, a full transition from military rule to democracy.
Now that she holds public office Daw Suu Kyi has stepped down as an Honorary Elder, reflecting the requirement that Elders do not hold public office. However, my fellow Elders and I will continue to support democratic reform, peace-building and national reconciliation, and we hope for a better future for its people.
This has been a month to celebrate women's leadership in Myanmar and around the world. On International Women's Day we were reminded that there is a tremendous amount of work being done to further the cause of equality for girls and women.
Increasingly we are learning – and not before time – just how much we have to gain from making sure that women are full and equal participants, not only in their families and communities, but also as leaders in politics, economic development and conflict resolution. As my fellow Elder Gro Brundtland said recently, "The full involvement of women makes societies more successful."
Finally I would like to note a remarkable resource that has become available this month: the archival photographs of the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory. I hope these images depicting the life and achievements of our founder, Nelson Mandela, can become a source of inspiration and learning for all those working in the service of peace and justice.
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