Fifteen years ago, delegates from 189 countries met in Beijing, China, for the Fourth World Conference on Women. It was a global call to action to work for laws, reforms, and social changes necessary to ensure that women and girls everywhere finally have the opportunities they deserve. Today, more girls are in school. More women hold jobs and serve in public office.
But this is not the end of the story, said U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women:
"We have to write the next chapter to fully realize the dreams and potential that we set forth in Beijing. Because for too many millions and millions of girls and women, opportunity remains out of reach. Women are still the majority of the world's poor, the uneducated, the unhealthy, the unfed. In too many places, women are treated not as full and equal human beings with their own rights and aspirations, but as lesser creatures undeserving of the treatment and respect accorded to their husbands, their fathers, and their sons."
"The status of women," said Secretary Clinton, "is not only a matter of morality and justice. It is also a political, economic and social imperative. Put simply," she said, "the world cannot make lasting progress if women and girls in the 21st century are denied their rights and left behind."
Strategies that ignore the lives and contributions of women have little chance of succeeding. The U.S. is working to identify women leaders and potential leaders around the world to make them partners to help support their work. In Afghanistan and Pakistan, the U.S., through our stabilization strategy, is promoting women's leadership in the public and private sectors, and increasing women's access to education, health, and justice.
"Let us renew our commitment to finishing the job," said Secretary of State Clinton. "And let us intensify our efforts because it is both the right thing to do and it is the smart thing as well. We must declare with one voice that women's progress is human progress, and human progress is women's progress once and for all."s progress once and for all."