To mark the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day, the U.S. State Department has launched "Empowering Women and Girls through International Exchanges." It is a year-long series of events that begins with bringing one-hundred leaders from ninety-two countries to the United States. Over the course of the year over 2,000 women will participate in the International Visitor Leadership Program.
These one-hundred women come from every region of the world and are leaders in academia, business, civil society, government, law enforcement, media, and the private sector. They have displayed a long-term commitment to empowering members of their communities, including women and girls.
Among those selected to participate is Raquel Fernandez from Paraguay. She connects with women and girls who are trapped in a life of servitude and brings them off the streets to break the cycle of prostitution and marginalization.
In Sudan, Aisha Humad is empowering women by teaching them to stand up for themselves and for their rights. In Yemen, Ishraq Al-Subee is not only a doctor and a medical researcher, but she conducts clinics for young people on everything from vocational skills to the basic principles of human rights and democracy.
Over the next three weeks, these women will be traveling across the United States to meet with business leaders, government officials, and women entrepreneurs who have learned to set up their own businesses and make them successful.
The Hundred Women Initiative is only one way that the United States is elevating the role of women and girls in its foreign policy. The U.S., said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, "is working with the private sector to provide grants to non-governmental organizations in many countries in order to help women and girls."
The U.S. is encouraging governments around the world and business sectors to invest more in women and bring women into the financial system. It is a good return on investment, said Secretary Clinton.
"If we decide – as societies, governments, and business – to invest in women and girls," said Secretary Clinton, "we will strengthen our efforts to fight poverty, drive development and spread stability. When women thrive, families, communities and countries thrive – and the world becomes more peaceful and prosperous."