The public activities of First Lady
Mrs Lilita Zatlere takes part in a variety of international forums. In February 2008, she opened a European and North American regional conference in Rīga in preparation for a UNESCO meeting of education ministers from all around the world that was scheduled in Geneva. In June of the same year, Mrs Zatlere attended a forum in Azerbaijan that was called “Expanding the Role of Women in Intercultural Dialogue.” The event was organised by the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, UNESCO, and a variety of Islamic educational, scientific and cultural organisations. At a plenary session at the forum, Mrs Zatlere spoke about the participation of women in intercultural dialogue, the role of women in societies and families, and, particularly, the role of women as stabilising factors in inter-ethnic relationships.
In September 2008 and May 2009, while accompanying President Zatlers on visits to the United States, Mrs Zatlere attended several social events for the spouses of UN member state leaders. She also visited educational institutions for children with special needs in Washington, DC, and Seattle.
On September 2008, Mrs Zatlere attended a symposium on preventing illiteracy in the world that was organised by US First Lady Laura Bush. Delegates discussed a series of problems in the world of education, including the issue of how to make sure that every child in every country in the world is given a chance to go to school. There was a particular focus on illiteracy in Africa, but women at the symposium agreed that this is a challenge not just for African countries, but for every country in the world, including the wealthiest ones. Therefore, they argued, education requires attention at the very highest level. Several delegates at the symposium said that improved levels of education help to deal with many other social problems, particularly in the area of health care. Knowledge and skills help women to understand that they can feel independent and safe in shaping their lives, establishing families, finding work, and identifying practical everyday applications for theoretical ideas. Mrs Zatlere spoke about Latvia’s experience with inclusive education, also discussing the way in which talented children and adolescents are supported in Latvia.
On September 23, 2008, First Lady attended the opening of the 63rd session of the UN General Assembly, after which she attended an event for the spouses of heads and state and government that was organised by the wife of the UN secretary general, Yoo (Ban) Soon-taek. At the meeting, the delegates discussed ways of working together in helping their spouses to achieve their goals, particularly in terms of social protections, equality, and aspects of children’s and women’s rights. They all agreed that each person must engage in social work and undertake different public obligations in his or her own place and time, thus making the world better, safer, and more open to the freedom of choice.
In September 2009, Mrs Zatlere attended the second annual UN seminar on autism, which was chaired by Yoo (Ban) Soon-taek. The aim of the event was to focus international attention on health problems caused by autism, thus shaping a global understanding as to how the disease affects society.
While on a working visit to the United States in 2010, Latvian First Lady Lilita Zatlere attended the third annual UN Autism Seminar which was chaired by the wife of the United Nations secretary general, Ban Soon-Taek. The aim of the event is to focus international attention on problems that are caused by autism, seeking a global understanding of how the disease affects society. She also attended a roundtable discussion, “Women Connected for Health”.
Participation in international events helps First Lady Zatlere to see what the world’s countries have in common and how they differ in terms of social situations and attempts to deal with problems. This allows her to make note of important initiatives at the national level. For instance, the First Lady has developed an interest in activities which relate to children with special needs in Latvia.