“We have all come to Mongolia to reaffirm our support [for] democracy in the region and the world, and in particular, to highlight the role and opportunities for women in democracies,” U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said recently at the International Women's Leadership Forum held in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.
“Democracy without the participation of women is a contradiction in terms. Whenever we talk about how to support democracy, we must be sure that women are not just a part of the discussion, but at the table to help lead that discussion, and to remain committed to helping more women worldwide gain roles in their governments, their economies, and their civil societies.”
Secretary Clinton said she had been inspired by the Mongolian people’s commitment to democracy when she visited Ulaanbaatar 17 years ago as First Lady. “Against long odds, surrounded by powerful neighbors who had their own ideas about Mongolia’s future, the Mongolian people came together with great courage to transform a one-party Communist dictatorship into a pluralistic, democratic political system,” she said.
After 10 years focusing on the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States is rebalancing toward Asia by increasing diplomatic, economic, cultural and strategic investments in the region.
“We want to help build an open, stable, and just regional order in the Asia Pacific based on norms and institutions that benefit all nations and all peoples,” Secretary Clinton said. “Our strategy incorporates three broad dimensions of America’s engagement – security, economic, and common values ... [but] the heart of our strategy, the piece that binds all the rest of it together, is our support for democracy and human rights.
“Those are not only my nation’s most cherished values; they are the birthright of every person born in the world. They are the values that speak to the dignity of every human being. They are enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, making clear that these are not to be given by a government to any individual, because every individual already owns them.”
“We need to make the 21st century a time in which people across Asia don’t only become more wealthy,” Secretary Clinton said in conclusion. “They must also become more free.”