U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced the establishment of the One Woman Initiative, a fund supporting women’s empowerment activities in countries with large Muslim populations. The public-private partnership of corporations, foundations, and the U.S. government will apply one-hundred million dollars to empower women.
The fund will support programs such as business training for women entrepreneurs, skill-building to help women take greater roles in politics and leadership, and efforts to increase women’s access to justice. "Empowering women must be a fundamental component of any relevant and effective foreign policy in today’s world," said Secretary Rice. Secretary Rice said that while we live "in an age where women are climbing to new heights, we must pause for a moment and direct our concerns for those who have been left behind." There are many women in the world today, she said, who are denied education, legal identity, and basic rights, including the right to vote. "These are the women in the shadows, often with little voice in their societies and we must respond to their needs and help them to unlock their own potential," she said. This is the goal of the One Woman Initiative.
The One Woman Initiative was born of tragedy – the assassination of Pakistan’s former prime minister Benazir Bhutto in December. "We recognized the impact that one moderate woman had in a major Muslim country, and it inspired us to help nurture others who could become forces for moderation and peaceful change," Secretary Rice noted. The One Woman Initiative, she said, "will support existing initiatives in countries with large Muslim populations and will focus on key empowerment initiatives" set by the Women Leaders Working Group – a partnership launched by the United States, comprised of senior women in governments worldwide.
"Across the globe, we see signs of women standing up for freedom, standing up for justice and demanding opportunity," said Secretary of State Rice. "We know that it is only by working together," she said, "that we can ultimately effect change for women around the word."