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Conclusions of the First Assembly of the International Network of Women Philosophers

The First Assembly of the International Network of Women Philosophers sponsored by UNESCO took place at UNESCO’s Headquarters in Paris (France) on 14 and 15 December 2009. The Assembly brought together more than 80 women philosophers from Africa, the Arab region, Asia and the Pacific, Europe and North America and Latin America and the Caribbean. Pierre Sané, UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Social and Human Sciences, officially opened the Assembly. The conclusions of the meeting are now available.

Conclusions of the First Assembly of the International Network of Women PhilosophersIn his opening speech, Pierre Sané asserted that “UNESCO regards the Network of Women Philosophers as, first and foremost, a network of philosophers, that is to say a place to foster knowledge and the strength that comes of knowledge: countless innovative ideas, an intellectual power-house”. Moufida Goucha, Chief of the Philosophy and Democracy Section of UNESCO, also stressed that the International Network of Women Philosophers should remind us that “the non-representation of women philosophers on the international public arena does not, in any case, imply a lack of interest on their part. No one today can ignore the fact that many women philosophers around the world are hard at work writing and thinking”.

The first Assembly enabled participants to discuss the structure, raison d’être, and future orientations of the Network. Barbara Cassin, the Founding President of the Network, reminded participants that, since the network had been set up for all women philosophers around the world, it would be up to them in the future to make their Network into a universal gathering to which each participant could personally contribute. This will be a testimony of the diversity, the solidarity and the sharing of knowledge in the philosophical community.

The initiatives of the International Network of Women Philosophers also aim to contribute to gender equality, one of UNESCO’s priorities, not through mere rhetoric but by actively showcasing the significant contribution of research carried on and the thinking advanced by women philosophers – research and thinking that very often have difficulty getting published, aired or discussed.

The debates that took place during the Assembly on the question “What do men philosophers think about women philosophers?” will be published in the near future, including, among others, “Who is Woman? Who is Man? - About a certainty without criteria”, presented by Ali Benmakhlouf; “What I have learnt about Philosophy from my two Sisters – Philosophers”, presented by Souleymane Bachir Diagne; “Sometimes a Woman Raises the Right Question”, presented by Charles Malamoud. This question, provocatively formulated, allowed participants to challenge the very notion of “woman philosopher”.

It has been decided that, in the following months, a Steering Committee will be set up, composed of 20 women philosophers (5 per region). Its objective will be to define future activities and orientations of the Network. The proceedings of the Symposium will be published soon.

Launched in 2007, the International Network of Women Philosophers currently includes more than 1,300 members from all the regions of the world. Their fields of activities reflect the great variety of disciplines that involve philosophy.

Philosophy and Democracy Section, UNESCO
Mr. Phinith Chanthalangsy
Tel.: +33 (0)1 45 68 43 47; Fax: +33 (0)1 45 68 57 29
E-mail: p.chanthalangsy@unesco.org

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Author(s) UNESCO - Sector for Social and Human Sciences
Publication Date 17-03-2010

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