"Talent is universal, but opportunity is not," said U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on April 28th, at a breakfast for women entrepreneurs from countries with large Muslim populations. "Women still have a harder time accessing loans and equity capital investments. Women are still saddled with unfair and untrue assumptions that they are less capable of starting and running businesses. And these obstacles exist in the United States and they exist in every country in the world.
"But we are determined to change that," said Secretary Clinton as she announced four new programs designed to support women in their efforts to build new businesses.
First, the Tech Women program will pair women selected from seven Muslim majority countries with American mentors, for four to six weeks of training in American technology centers.
Second, the U.S. and Japan are working to organize an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, or APEC, women’s entrepreneurship summit, which will focus on policy, human resources and financing issues.
Beginning this year, a panel of jurors will recommend project proposals to receive the Secretary’s Innovation Award for the Empowerment of Women and Girls, granted for projects or ideas that have improved the lives of women and girls or have the potential to do so. Two recipients will each receive up to five hundred thousand dollars to enlarge the scope of their programs.
Finally, Secretary of State Clinton announced the launching of the Secretary’s International Fund for Women and Girls. "This public-private partnership will provide high-impact grants to Non Governmental Organizations working to advance the economic, social, and political progress of women," said Secretary Clinton: "The women’s fund will bring together the resources and expertise of both the public and the private sectors to invest in effective and innovative solutions for issues like economic empowerment, climate change, combating violence against women, and improved access to education and healthcare."
"There isn’t any way we can increase peace, prosperity, stability, and security throughout the world unless women are full partners – full partners in the home and the family, full partners in the community and the country and the world," said Secretary Clinton.
Investing in women is not just the right thing to do – it is also the smart thing to do.