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Empowering Women in the Middle East

Egyptian women chant slogans as they attend a demonstration in Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt, April 1, 2011.

U.S. - Dutch cooperation is aimed at supporting the empowerment of women and girls around the world, especially in emerging democracies.

In recent months, events sweeping across the Middle East and North Africa have seen millions of men and women march in the streets demanding institutional reform, including the empowerment of women. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Dutch Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal, following their bilateral meeting recently in Washington, issued a joint statement of cooperation aimed at supporting the empowerment of women and girls around the world, especially in emerging democracies.

The Netherlands and the United States share the view that the participation of women in political and economic processes is particularly urgent in the Middle East and North Africa region in these times of transition and reconciliation.

"The subjugation of women is a threat to the common security of our world," the Joint Statement states, "because the suffering and denial of the rights of women, and the instability of nations, go hand in hand. There is . . . a mountain of data that correlates investments in and inclusion of women with positive outcomes in poverty alleviation and a country’s greater prosperity."

The United States and the Netherlands' collaborative approach will draw upon local expertise and networks, and focus on four areas: First, in ensuring women’s rights in the legal, political and economic spheres; second, in fostering women leaders and political leadership training; third, in building women’s civil society organizations; and fourth, in engaging civic education to raise awareness about women’s participation as key to a stable and prosperous society.

Particular emphasis will be given to providing technical and capacity-building assistance for women-led and women-focused non-governmental-organizations, which are critical to effective and sustainable progress for women.

"Both our nations recognize that when women and girls are accorded their rights and afforded opportunities, they drive political, economic, and social progress," said Secretary Clinton when introducing the collaborative effort between the United States and the Netherlands. "[W]e're pleased to be working with the Netherlands to create greater political and economic opportunities for women, particularly in the democratic transitions underway in the Middle East and North Africa."