Countries that invest in women’s employment, health, and education are likely to have better outcomes, said U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the recent Women in the World Summit.
That’s why the U.S. State Department has made women a cornerstone of American foreign policy. U.S. diplomats and development experts have been tasked with finding ways to help women start businesses, help girls attend school, and push for women activists to be involved in peace talks and elections.
It also means taking on issues such as discrimination against women and rape as a tactic of war. “We cannot rest until such abuses have been ended,” said Secretary Clinton.
In December, the U.S. launched a U.S. National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security, which is a roadmap of how to advance women’s participation around the world. Methods include giving grants to train women activists and journalists in Kenya in early-warning systems for violence. The U.S. is also supporting a new trauma center for rape victims in Sudan.
In the Central African Republic, the U.S. is helping women access legal and economic services. And in the Congo, the U.S. is improving the collection of medical evidence for the prosecution of gender-based violence.
Political transitions are underway in Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan, and in the Middle East and North Africa. The United States is working to develop local strategies in each country to empower women politically, economically, and socially.
The United States, said Secretary Clinton, “is concerned about the revolutions in the Middle East and North Africa. They held so much promise, but they also carried real risks, especially for women. We saw women on the front lines of the revolutions, most memorably in Cairo’s Tahrir Square. They marched, they blogged, they tweeted, they risked their lives alongside their sons and brothers – all in the name of dignity and opportunity. But after the revolution, too often they have found their attempts to participate in their new democracies blocked.”
Women everywhere, including in the Middle East, deserve the right to shape their own destinies. It is part of the American mission, said Secretary Clinton, to ensure that women and men alike have the opportunity to live up to their God-given potential.