Parliamentarians around the world should confront the challenge of inter-generational poverty, says President Thabo Mbeki.
The president was speaking at the inauguration of the 118th Inter-Parliamentary Union, of which he was elected President.
The event is being held at the International Convention Centre in Cape Town drawing delegations of Members of Parliament from as many as 140 countries.
Poverty is characterised by a self-perpetuating condition of powerlessness, which is a multi-generational reality that impacts on the next generation even before birth.
The quest to free the poor from powerlessness and fear requires a "gender perspective" to development, to enhance their contribution to the struggle against poverty and social inequality, said Mr Mbeki.
This message was underscored earlier in the day at a press conference held by the Secretary-General of the IPU, Anders Johnsson, and Gwen Mahlangu, the Deputy Speaker of Parliament.
They released the findings of a Survey of Women and Men in Parliaments or other forms of legislature, such as Congresses.
The survey revealed that women tended to bring a less-confrontational touch to politics that was unique from in that it focused primarily on basic societal issues, issues driven by the need to nurture the family and consider the needs of children and the community.
And the less confrontational language that tends to characterise the political energies of women bring about a greater tendency to reach more of an understanding of the issues at stake, Mr Johnsson said.
President Mbeki said history has proventhat the liberation of women and ensuring full participation of women in all institutions of society, including Parliament and government, are the necessary conditions for accelerated and sustainable development.
Peace, security, democracy and the availability of resources are indispensable elements in pushing back the frontiers of poverty.
The President added that "the certainty of peace allows people "space to build, social, economic and political institutions that underline the march of progress".
Meanwhile, a number of proposals have been received from the Members of Parliament of the various countries taking part in the assembly on urgent matters.
These proposals include a proposal by Egypt to focus on the humanitarian situation in Gaza and to achieve peace in the Middle East.
This was supported by the Iran, which emphasised the importance of supporting the democratic choice of government of the Palestinian people.
A proposal to pay attention to climate change was presented by Greece, and a proposal to focus on the problem of xenophobia has been presented by Turkey.
South Africa requested that the parliaments of the world ensure that the United Nations halt the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Darfur, Palestine, Sri Lanka, Colombia and Somalia.
A proposal by Venezuelan Members of Parliament - on behalf also of the Group of Latin America and the Caribbean - focused on the need to achieve peace and a humanitarian agreement in Colombia.
New Zealand highlighted the issue of Zimbabwe, which was brought up also by the Speakers of parliaments of the 14 Southern African Development Community (SADC) states.
The Speakers of Parliament of SADC expressed their concern at "the length of time it is taking for the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to release the results of all the elections [held in Zimbabwe recently]".
The parliamentarians, which number in the hundreds, were to vote on the inclusion of these emergency items on Monday afternoon. - BuaNews
Compiled by the Government Communication and Information System