In the framework of the Standing Committee meeting in Riga, the ‘Women@PACE’ group today held an exchange of views with Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga, who served as the President of Latvia from 1999 to 2007. She was the first woman to hold the post in the country.
Addressing the participants, Ms Vīķe-Freiberga said that the opposition she had encountered as a woman was energizing: “What women have gained as their actual human rights - not even specific women’s rights - they have gained with great suffering and effort,” she pointed out.
“To be the object of prejudice for what you are, and not for what you have done, does make women more sensitive to injustice,” the former President said. When women are elected, there are expectations on them “not only because of the cause they are engaging in, or the party values they are defending – no, they automatically carry the flag of women’s rights. For some it is a burden, while for others it has been the primary motivation to start being active in public life,” she added.
“What we want for the future is that women can fully enjoy who they are by nature, by biology, by history - and that they do not need to pretend to be ‘masculinised’ to achieve what they achieve,” Ms Vīķe-Freiberga concluded.