"Andorra is one of only two countries that have reached 50 per cent of women in parliament," Ban said in his address to the Parliament. "The equal participation of women and men in political decision-making is fundamental for genuine democracy and gender empowerment.
"I thank you for your leadership and encourage Andorra to continue to promote women's political participation not just in your country but, through your example, around the world."
Ban said his message was one of gratitude, inspiration and support for the lawmakers of the country, who have surpassed the goal established at the 1995 Beijing conference on women, which recommended that every parliament in the world have at least 30 per cent women.
"The world will never reach 100 per cent of its potential if we exclude 50 per cent of its people," he said.
Ban also congratulated Andorra on the 20th anniversary of its constitution as well as of its UN membership.
"You, your country's legislators and representatives are the cornerstone of democracy," Ban said. "As lawmakers, you can shape the development of your society at home and the influence of your country on the international stage."
The Secretary-General also commended Andorra's progress on sustainable development, democracy, human rights and the rule of law, as well as its recent efforts to open up its economy.
"This shows your commitment to open up to the world. As parliamentarians, you have helped make this happen. I am confident that the people of Andorra will benefit from their international contacts in your pursuit of competition, innovation and general progress," he said.
Earlier Tuesday, Ban met Prime Minister Antoni Marti and Foreign Minister Gilbert Saboya and spoke to reporters. "In the international arena, Andorra serves as an example for other countries by demonstrating social cohesion within this multilateral and multilingual society," he stated at the press conference. "It has also shown leadership through its ability to adapt quickly to changing economic and social situations, by opening its economy."
On the way to Andorra from San Marino, the Secretary-General visited the San Patrignano drug rehabilitation centre in Italy to meet residents and those who work at the centre. Wednesday, Ban will travel to Monaco.
--IBNS (Posted on 03-04-2013)