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Archive for the ‘Women Entrpreneurs’ Category

Hillary Clinton delivered the closing keynote speech to the Professional Business Women of California yesterday.  In her remarks, she stepped up to defend Congresswoman Maxine Waters, whom Bill O’Reilly had insulted, and journalist April Ryan, whom Sean Spicer insulted in yesterday’s press briefing.

Interesting that he said it’s a full five-day week of press briefings. This administration is briefing-shy.  The State Department is not offering daily briefings, either.

Full Remarks and Q & A here:

 

Transcript from Time.

Hello! Thank you, thank you all so much. It is great to be back in San Francisco, a place that has a big big spot in my heart and to be able to speak with all of you this afternoon.

Please be seated and you can jump up and down its been a wonderful but long day I hear.

I want to thank Anne not just for her kind introduction but for exemplifying the kind of creative entrepreneurial leadership that she has demonstrated and that so many of you are also part of. I want to thank Alexandr Roddy for her leadership and all she’s done and to make this event such a success.

I am thrilled to be out of the woods and in the company of so many inspiring women and there is no place I’d rather be than here with you other than the White House. (Cheers)

But lets remember what brought all of us here for the 28th convening of this event. Back in the 1980s my friend Congresswoman Jackie Speier started bringing together groups of women for networking and professional development, for support. Now that might not seem radical at all today but at the time it was pretty revolutionary and Jackie Speier herself exemplifies a life of commitment and service. She has to be in Congress for votes but lets show our appreciation for her visionary leadership with a round of applause she can hear all the way back in D.C.

Because just look at what you represent. The Professional Businesswomen of California is now the largest women’s organization in the state which probably means its the biggest in the country — I don’t know that but it seems reasonable to assume if you’re the biggest in California.

But your members are transforming the way we do things, the way we deliver healthcare. You’re running cities and Fortune 500 companies. You’re making Oscar-nominated films and leading in every industry from finance to fitness, empowering the next generation of women and girls and taking on some of the toughest problems that we face. That’s why I was thrilled that the theme for this year’s conference is “inclusion now” because that is spot on.

There’s never been a more important woman than the woman who stands up and says not just for herself but for everybody else, “we want diversity and inclusion in everything we do in our country.”

And in fact, its not only the right thing to do, its the smart thing. You understand this. These are not just buzzwords to throw around or boxes to check. The best way to solve problems is to bring together a wide range of people to crowdsource solutions. And guess what? Bringing different perspectives and experiences into professional offices brings not only fresh ideas but higher revenues. And I’ve been saying for a long time, as many of you have, that advancing the rights and opportunities of women and girls is the great unfinished business of the 21st century. (Cheers)

And some days, I admit, it seems like it may be even more unfinished than we hoped. Because while we women have made strides in education and careers, there’s still a woeful lack of women in the upper reaches of science and technology, business and education, not to mention politics and government. Women’s representation in the current administration in Washington, for example, is the lowest its been in a generation. But even in a state like California, that is ahead of the curve in so many ways, the number of women serving in the state legislature is at a twenty year low. And women in the private sector, particularly women of color, still struggle for representation in the c-suite and boardroom.

But I am here today to urge us not to grow tired, not to be discouraged and disappointed, not to throw up our hands because change isn’t happening fast enough. Or to even take a pass because we think we’ve done our part. We need more women at any table, on any conference call or email chain where decisions are made. And a big part of that is encouraging more women to run for office and pushing the private sector to do a lot better than it currently is.

But even that’s not enough. We can’t stop there. We need to reset the table so women are no longer required to accept or adapt to discrimination or sexism at work. We need to think beyond corporate boardrooms, beyond corridors of companies or elected bodies, beyond our own lives and experiences to lift up women of all incomes, experiences and backgrounds in every corner of our country. And a crucial part of solving these problems is recognizing that as important as it is, corporate feminism is no substitute for inclusive concrete solutions that improve life for women everywhere. Because as challenging as it is to climb the career ladder, its even harder for women at the margins unable to get on or stay on even the lowest rung. And for too many women, especially low-wage workers, basic things, like a livable wage or a predictable work schedules or affordable childcare are still way out of reach.

We know from decades of data that encouraging women’s full participation is both right and smart. This data comes not just from our own country but from across the world. When I was Secretary of State I made it part of my mission to try to educate governments that including women in the economy was not only good for them and their families but poverty went down and gross domestic product of the entire county went up. And companies with more women in upper management do achieve higher profits.

Yet we also know, many of us from our own lives, that women still face barriers that hold us back. I meet talented women everywhere I go who are squeezing every minute out of their 24 hour day. They love their jobs but they can’t escape the nagging feeling that its a lot harder than it should be to get ahead. I bet just about everyone in this room has had the experience of saying something in a meeting that gets ignored. Ten, twenty minutes later a man says the same thing and everyone thinks its genius. And I think we should pool our respective reactions so that you have right at your fingertips exactly what to say. Nice thought. Little slow on the uptake but good idea.

And where everyday sexism and structural barriers were once blatant, today they’re sometimes harder to spot but make no mistake, they’re still with us. Just look at all thats happened in the last few days to women that simply were doing their jobs. April Ryan, a respected journalist with unrivaled integrity, was doing her job just this afternoon in the White House press room when she was patronized and cut off trying to ask a question. One of your own California congresswoman, Maxine Waters, was taunted with a racist joke about her hair. Now too many women, especially women of color, have had a lifetime of practice taking precisely these kinds of indignities in stride. But why should we have to? And any woman who thinks this couldn’t be directed at her is living in a dream world. (Applause)

I mean, its not like I didn’t know all the nasty things they were saying about me. Some of them were actually quite creative, ones I hadn’t heard before. But you just have to keep going. And even when sexism and exclusion are out in the open, its sometimes hard to believe they could possibly be deliberate. Recently, photos have been making the rounds on social media showing groups of men in Washington making decisions about women’s health. Decisions to rip away coverage for pregnancy and maternity care, or limit access to reproductive healthcare around the globe. We shake our heads and think, how could they not have invited any women to the table? Well, a provocative opinion piece in the New York Times this week argues that it may not be an oversight at all but an intentional signal: don’t worry, the men are in charge of everything.

My favorite sort of take on these pictures, maybe you saw it, was the one of dogs sitting around an oval table and the caption was discussing feline care, I liked that. But it is a cruel irony that stereotypes and bias run rampant even at companies that pride themselves as being forward thinking. More and more women have been sharing stories of their experiences in Silicon Valley. Stories of consistently being asked to take notes in meetings or get the coffee, of being undermined, interrupted and criticized in a way that never seems to happen to their male colleagues. Those may seem like small things, but over time they take a toll, don’t they?

And for some women, the hostility is even more direct, like the Uber engineer who spoke out about her experiences with sexual harassment and spurred the company to publicly admit to addressing this problem. It is disheartening to hear women at the highest level of their profession say things are no better for the young women beginning their careers today. Women hold just a quarter of computing jobs in the U.S. and that number has gone down instead of up. Women are hired at lower numbers in the tech industry and leave at more than twice the rate men do. And for women of color, the situation is even worse.

Beyond issues of bias and discrimination, the game is often still rigged against working women in major ways. What kind of message does it send the world that the United States is the advanced economy with no national paid family leave policy? And less than 15% of workers have access to paid family leave, and those benefits are concentrated among the highest-income workers. You know, it was actually a little better before people knew what was going on. I remember I was a young law partner when I was pregnant and that was a long time ago and my partners just didn’t want to talk about it. I’d walk down the hall, getting bigger and bigger, they’d turn their heads (laughter), and Chelsea came early.

You know, I kept raising the idea of well what kind of time off do I get? Well it never happened before, so nobody was talking about it. So Chelsea comes early, I have her late one night, next morning, early morning, my phone rings and its our managing partner. He doesn’t say congratulations. He doesn’t say hope you and the baby are fine, he says when are you coming back to work? I said, well I don’t know and just out of the air I said I don’t know, maybe four months. Well he had no idea, because he had never talked about it with anybody before. I said, you know, I can probably, you know, pick up some work and do some things in a couple months, but lets say 4 months. That was the beginning of our paid leave policy. (Cheers).

But then I was discouraged to read a recent survey that despite the progress in some industries, companies on the whole are actually offering less paid time off then they were a decade ago. And for too many companies that do offer family leave, it doesn’t apply to fathers or LGBT couples or adoptive parents, and thats kind of strange for people in California because you’ve had more than a decade of evidence that offering paid family leave doesn’t hurt business; in fact, it helps companies compete for top talent and to retain employees. The benefits outweigh the costs. So why is it that companies still aren’t doing all they can to support working parents? As a candidate for President, I put out a comprehensive plan, I don’t expect you to remember that, in fact there was a recent study showing none of my plans were really publicized or talked about, so that gives me something for speeches for at least a decade. (Applause).

Obviously the outcome of the election wasn’t the one I hoped for, worked for, but I will never stop speaking out for common sense benefits that allow mom and dads to stay on the job. After all, I think its fair to say no good idea has ever become a reality overnight. As our friends in startups know, it takes time and hard work. And I’m heartened by the fact that even as we struggle at the federal level, cities and states across the country are looking to California and a few other places to pass paid family leave.

There are a growing number of businesses in the country that are leading by examples. Companies from Salesforce to Gap are making real commitments to their employees by guaranteeing equal pay and paid family leave, respectively. And we’re seeing exciting initiatives across industries like the EDGE certification program, which was designed to help companies measure and hold themselves accountable for creating a more equal workplace. Google it, EDGE, and see what you can do to advocate for it within your own company.

The private sector can and must be an engine of change on these issues, especially in a place like Silicon Valley. Because when you’re on the cutting edge of how people work and learn you have both an opportunity and an obligation to institute workplace policies that help employees meet their responsibilities at home and on the job. And then leaders in other industries will take notice and try to match what you do. After all, you’re the people who figured out how to put computers in the palms of our hands and you have the tools and the creativity to take on big problems like implicit bias and make the case for those in elected office to follow suit.

So despite our stumbles and our setbacks, we’ve never been better positioned to take on this vital work. In fact, I don’t think our country has ever been better positioned to take on the challenges of the future. Where some see a dark vision of carnage, I see a light shining on creativity and opportunity. (Cheers)

Now, we saw that in real time the day after the inauguration when millions of women and men from all walks of life marched for women’s equality, visibility and inclusion. It was the biggest march in our country’s history and I delighted at every sign I saw quoting my 1995 speech that human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights once and for all.

Now, afterwards, there were plenty of people as you might expect, who wondeed whether that level of energy and enthusiasm could be sustained and whether it would make any difference. Well I am here to tell you. Last week we saw the first indication that the answer to both of those questions is yes. When Congress and the administration tried to jam through a bill that would have kicked 24 million people off their health insurance, defunded Planned Parenthood, jeopardize access to affordable birth control, deprive people with disabilities and the elderly and nursing homes of essential care, they were met with a wave of resistance. People who had never been active in politics told their stories at town hall meetings, flooded the congressional switchboard with calls speaking out for affordable health care. These were not only activists and advocates, they were people who had something to say and were determined to be heard. Yes, some were new to the fight and others, like Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi have been on the front lines for years. And when this disastrous bill failed it was a victory for all Americans. (Cheers)

But let me let you in on a little secret. The other side never quits. Sooner or later, they’ll try again. We will need to fight back twice as hard, not for the sake of politics but because these are bad policies that will hurt people and take our country in the wrong direction. You know, there’s a little mantra I’ve been repeating to myself lately, a little silly, the kind of thing that pops into your heads when you take a lot of long walks in the woods. But as I think about the outpouring of activism we’re seeing, despite all the noise and the nonsense, four words keep coming back to me: resist, insist, persist, enlist.

We need to resist actions that go against our values as Americans, whether that’s attacking immigrants and refugees, denying climate change or passing bogus laws that make it harder for people to vote in elections. We need to resist bias and bullying, we need to resist hate and fear. And we need to insist on putting people first, including by working together to make healthcare more affordable, to build on what works, to create better and more upwardly mobile education and employment ladders. To insist that we can do better. That’s who we are. We’re always pushing towards that more perfect union. And then we need to persist, as we saw so dramatically in the Senate when Mitch McConnell went after Senator Elizabeth Warren and said, nevertheless she persisted, in being told she could not read a letter from Coretta Scott King. So we need to persist to approach future challenges with the passion we’ve seen these last few months and then bring that to the voting booth in 2018. To tell yourself, to tell your friends and your colleagues, no matter how you vote, show up and vote for goodness sake. Be there. Make sure your voice and your vote count.

And we need to enlist, enlist in this effort, get in the arena. Now that can mean many things. Running for office, which I hope some of you will actively consider. Starting and running a business, which many of you have done and are doing. But a business that takes care of its employees. Mentoring and championing other women and girls, giving time to volunteer outside of work. Standing up and speaking out. There’s not just one way to do this, there are so many – there’s something for everybody here to become involved in. So sure, the last few months haven’t been exactly what I envisioned, although I do know what I’m still fighting for. I’m fighting for a fairer, big hearted, inclusive America. The unfinished business of the 21st century can’t wait any longer. Now is the time to demand the progress we want to see and to work together to make it real in our own lives, in our businesses, in our government, in our families, our country and the world. And I’ll be right there with you every step of the way. Thank you all very much.

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Posted: Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Girl Scouts pays tribute to iconic women in history with photo shoot

Hillary Clinton
Hillary Clinton is among the female leaders tributed in a photo series from New York-area Girl Scouts in celebration of Women’s History Month. (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images)

By Kelcie Willis

Cox Media Group National Content Desk

NEW YORK —

The Girl Scouts of the United States of America is celebrating Women’s History Month with a special series of photographs.

ABC News reported that New York-area Girl Scouts were chosen from over 300 applicants to dress as female leaders such as Amelia Earhart, Lucille Ball, Vera Wang and Condoleezza Rice.

Tricia Messeroux, Toddlewood.com creator and photographer was behind the shoot. Her website of photos turns kids into celebrities as seen on movie posters and red carpets of the Oscars, Grammys and Golden Globes.

SNIP

Female leaders represented include former Demoncratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, actress Whoopi Goldberg; NASA mathematicians Katherine G. Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson; entrepreneur Madam C.J. Walker; astronaut Mae Jemison; singer Celia Cruz and Girl Scouts founder Juliette Gordon Low.

Read more and see photos >>>>

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Christine Quinn comes from a very personal place to explain in language anyone can understand, without a lot of frills,  Hillary’s evolution on marriage equality.

Christine Quinn on Hillary Clinton & Marriage Equality

Christine Quinn

Clinton has come to understand same-sex marriages the same way most Americans have evolved regarding the reality that everyone deserves marriage equality

Today, we have a woman running for President of the United States who fully supports marriage equality. She is also likely to be the only nominee running for president that does. That is something all Americans should be thrilled about. Her position is clear and rock solid, and they way she came to that conclusion is the same way most people do, including some of my own family members. Like most Americans, her position is one that evolved and developed from personal interactions with LGBT Americans and their families, and through a long and deep soul searching. I know a little bit about this process: It’s how my father came to support my right to marry and then eventually walk me down the aisle when I married my wife.

Read more >>>>

The media likes to present the process of coming to new terms on old issues as flip-flopping.  It is not.   I saw my own father, who was employed by the defense industry, evolve on the Viet Nam War.   Quinn describes the process perfectly.  It is deeply personal, and while there often is a material or concrete side to the question there is usually a profoundly spiritual or abstract personal one as well.

Don’t we want leaders who reflect on important issues that affect people’s lives?  While some in the media preoccupy themselves with some calendar where they tick off days since Hillary Clinton has responded to a question from the press, Hillary Clinton is on the road listening to Americans – to our concerns, our aspirations,  our perceptions,  and our positions.  She will respond to the noisy media who pretend to be the voice of the people in due time after she has spent some time listening to us and reflecting upon what she has heard.

05-14-14-TW-03

Evolving is not flip-flopping.  It is a process.  Where do you stand?  How do you feel?  What is your position?

  • On marriage equality?
  • On pay equality?
  • On arms and ammunition control?
  • On capital punishment?
  • On the role of women in civil society?
    • In business?
    • In government?
    • In making their own health decisions?
  • On hundreds of other issues and questions….

Have these positions remained stable for you or have they changed over time?  Most of us have probably gone through some changes.  Why should Hillary Clinton be any different?  Would you even want a leader who neither listens nor reflects?

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As she embarked on her last six months as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, mindful of the limited time remaining,  in every major speech whether at home or abroad, highlighted her signature issue and explained how gender equity has an impact on national economies.   Education for women and girls, fair pay, access to bank accounts and credit, protection from abuse and forced labor were among topics that consistently figured in as platforms for raising economic profiles in a 21st century world where national strength is based on more than military might alone.

When she traveled through Asia last July, it was very clear that she was on a farewell tour.   It was a bittersweet valedictory.  Everyone in every audience knew that they would not be seeing her as America’s top diplomat again, and she knew that her words would resonate perhaps as never before.

This speech in Cambodia last July resounded with its significance to her State Department legacy.  It is classic HRC with many quotable quotes.  These are not “soft” issues, and this speech clarifies the reasons.  Revisiting it seems a fitting way to begin Women’s History Month.

Remarks to the Lower Mekong Initiative Womens’ Gender Equality and Empowerment Dialogue

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Sofitel Hotel
Siem Reap, Cambodia
July 13, 2012

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much, Minister Phavi, for that introduction and also for describing the results of what has been, by all reports, an excellent meeting. And I thank all the heads of delegations who are here and all of the attendees. I want to welcome all our partners from the Lower Mekong nation and from the Friends of the Lower Mekong. And I want to commend the Government of Cambodia for its leadership in the Lower Mekong Initiative and for co-hosting this conference.

We launched this organization three years ago to expand cooperation on issues that affect the daily lives of people across the region. And I’m getting some feedback. I’m hearing the Cambodian translation at the same time. (Laughter.) I wish I spoke Cambodian, but I don’t. So I was having a little trouble, but thank you for that.

We launched this organization three years ago to expand cooperation on issues that affect the daily lives of the people across the region, from protecting the environment to managing water resources to improving infrastructure, education, and public health. And now with the inclusion of the government in Nay Pyi Taw we are poised to make even greater progress together.
Yesterday in Phnom Penh, I announced that the United States is easing sanctions to allow American businesses to invest there. And today I am pleased to add that we are also launching a new partnership with the nonprofit Abbott Fund to invest one million dollars in the health and education for women and girls.

I am delighted that the Lower Mekong Initiative is now also focusing on the rights and opportunities of women. At the ministerial meeting in Phnom Penh this morning, we adopted a joint statement by all of the countries represented that will integrate gender equality and women’s empowerment through the LMI agenda. I like what the Minister said about how we came together to care to share and dare to dream, and I think that’s a very good description of what you have been doing here.

As Secretary of State, I make these issues about women and girls a priority everywhere I go. Because when women have the chance to participate in the economic and political lives of their communities, not only do their lives improve, but the lives of their families do as well. Commerce flourishes, instability declines, and you see a general uplifting of societies and nations. And I have met women all over this region who are living this truth every day – educators in Hanoi, entrepreneurs in Bangkok, democracy activists in Yangon, garment workers here in Siem Reap, women like all of you who are working hard for progress throughout the Mekong region.

Unfortunately, as you know so well, outdated legal and social barriers continue to limit women’s participation in business and politics. According to the World Bank, more than 100 countries have laws that restrict women’s economic activity, whether it is opening a bank account on their own, signing a contract, owning land, or pursuing the profession of their choice. And millions of women here in Southeast Asia are trapped in the informal economy, laboring in fields and factories for very low wages with very few protections. And of course, some have it even worse – victims of forced labor, forced prostitution, or other forms of modern day slavery.

Now, too often, discussions of these issues are on the margins of international debate. We have separate parallel conversations about women’s rights, about alleviating poverty, and then we have another conversation about international economics. But I once asked an economist in Africa, after spending the day traveling through an African country seeing women working in the fields, women working in the markets, women fetching fuel, women carrying water, women tending children – I asked, “Don’t you think it’s time we count women contributions to the economy in some way.” And he responded, “No, what they do is not part of the economy.” And I said, “Well, if every woman working in the field, in the markets, in the homes were to stop working for a week, I think every economist would learn they are definitely part of the economy.” (Applause.)

All these issues are related, and we need to start thinking about them in an integrated way, because in the end, what is an economy for? An economy is a means to an end. It is not an end in itself. An economy is to enable people to make more out of their own lives as well as to make a living. And therefore, the best economic systems are ones which give the most opportunity to the greatest number of people. And what we have to do in the 21st century is to take a hard look about what we can do, not just in Southeast Asia but around the world, to make sure that economies are working for people and not just people at the top, but people throughout society. Because, after all, most people don’t live at the highest, elite level of any society. That’s a very small group. And if the results of people’s hard work in any society is not spread across all the people but instead goes up to the top, you will not see the kind of progress that is possible.

So as I traveled across Asia this week – from Japan to Mongolia, to Vietnam, to Laos, and now Cambodia – I’ve been talking about the mutually reinforcing role that economics and human rights play in not only your lives, but in America’s engagement in the region – what is sometimes called our pivot to Asia. Labor issues promoting workers rights, improving labor conditions, supporting women’s economic participation, protecting people from modern day slavery is all part about how you build prosperous, peaceful societies.

And so today, I want to focus on the rights of workers here in Southeast Asia and in our modern global economy. It’s important that we understand fair labor standards for men and women can spur economic growth and widen the circle of prosperity. And governments, businesses, and workers all have a responsibility to make that happen.

So let’s begin with rights. The international community and international law recognize that workers everywhere, regardless of income or status, are entitled to certain universal rights, including the right to form and join a union and to bargain collectively. Child labor, forced labor, discrimination based on gender, race, ethnicity, religion, or other factors, should be universally prohibited.

So defending these labor rights and improving working conditions is a smart economic investment, but it’s also a very important value. Now back in 1999, my husband was president of the United States and the entire world was fiercely debating what we should be doing to deal with what is called globalization. Well, my husband gave speeches at both the World Trade Organization and the International Labor Organization. And he delivered the same message to each audience: To deny the importance of core labor issues in a global economy is to deny the dignity of work. The belief that honest labor fairly compensated gives meaning and structure to our lives.

Well, that was true then; it was true when I was a little girl and I watched my mother working in our home, and I watched my father working in his small business; and it is true today. Standing up for workers’ rights and high labor standards is both right and moral, but it is also smart and strategic. Just look at the progress that has taken place here in Cambodia.

In the late 1990s, this country was emerging out of years of war and economic ruin. Nearly 80 percent of Cambodians made a very meager living by subsistence farming. And the new government was looking for ways to boost growth and connect to the global economy. In the United States, my husband’s administration was convinced that trade incentives could be used to strengthen workers’ rights around the world. The result was an agreement – an agreement between the United States and Cambodia that opened American markets to Cambodian textiles in return for tough new monitoring programs in local garment factories. Now that agreement wasn’t perfect – no agreement ever is – and there are certainly, as I have heard, problems in garment factories across the country. But compare where Cambodia was in 1999 and where it is today. Working conditions have improved. Wages have risen. It has become easier to form a union, and instead of scaring off investors, the fact of these reforms actually attracted them.

Multinational clothing companies saw a chance to clean up their supply chains and improve their reputation. So they started buying more and more Cambodian products, and exports soared. Where there was once just a handful of state-owned textile and apparel factories employing only a few thousand people, within 10 years there were hundreds of new factories providing jobs for more than 350,000 Cambodians – mostly young women, who migrated from poor rural communities to earn wages far above the average of what otherwise would have been available to them.

Research conducted by the International Labor Organization and other institutions tell us that this is not an isolated example. Respecting workers’ rights leads to positive, long-term economic outcomes, including higher levels of foreign direct investment. And bringing workers, especially women, into the formal economy has ripple effects: Inequality declines while mobility increases, taxes are paid, countries and communities are stronger and better able to meet the rising expectations of their people.

Now the flip side of that is also true. Denying workers their universal rights costs society dearly in lost productivity, innovation, and growth, as well as undermining the rule of law and creating instability. So we should pay attention to these findings.

I do hope that decision makers around the world, including in my own country, actually look at evidence, because evidence matters. Whether you’re a scientist looking at research or a government official looking at analysis, look at the evidence. Here in Southeast Asia, economies have grown rapidly by attracting foreign investors looking for low-cost labor and material and by exporting affordable goods to more developed markets. But this export-driven model can only take a country and a region so far.

In the wake of the global financial crisis and worldwide recession, Asian countries can no longer count on endless demands from Europe and the United States. And by the same token, American manufacturers may be looking for new customers in new markets, especially in Asia. That’s why developed nations, like the United States, will need to build more at home and sell more abroad. And developing countries, in Asia and elsewhere, will need to grow a larger middle class that will fuel demand for both domestic and imported goods and services. Henry Ford, back at the beginning of the 20th century, when he started building cars in Detroit, Michigan back in the United States, paid his workers the unheard salary of $5 a day. And all of the other employers came to him and they complained that he was paying his workers too much and that would raise the wages of all the other workers in all the other businesses. And Henry Ford said, “If I don’t pay my workers, who will buy the cars that I am making?”

So if you begin to pay your workers more, they then buy more goods, which actually helps more businesses. And that is the next phase of growth in Asia, as well as the future of the global economy. We should not be in a race to the bottom. We should be in a race to see how we raise income, raise standards of living, and raise the sharing of prosperity. So for this to happen, we will have to make sure that women have the opportunity to move from the informal economy to the formal economy with employment. We will have to make sure that migrant workers are respected and protected, that people in modern-day slavery are free and rehabilitated. In effect, how do we transform the workforce to create more opportunities?

Well to begin with, governments will have to modernize labor laws to respect workers’ rights and ensure that men and women have fair, safe working conditions and can earn a living wage. And governments will have to get serious about enforcement, cracking down on unscrupulous recruiters, criminal traffickers, and abusive employers.

Now, strengthening the rule of law will not just protect workers, it will also attract investors and make it easier for everyone to do business. And multinational corporations, like those in America, will have to insist that every link in their supply chain meets international labor standards. Now, of course, I know there’s a price tag that comes with that. But it is an investment, and it’s an investment that will pay dividends, because it can be very attractive to consumers in my country, in Europe, and elsewhere to know that the goods they buy are being produced in conditions that really help people improve their own lives. And then, of course, workers will have to keep pushing for their own rights, organizing and advocating.

Now, it took decades of struggle for workers in America to form unions strong enough to protect their rights and secure changes like the eight-hour day and the minimum wage, but it helped to create the great American middle class. And we are now adjusting our economy to the new challenges, but we certainly were advantaged by all of the changes over the last one hundred years.

I think the nations of Southeast Asia are at the beginning of your own journey. I know that there are still many problems and a lot of poverty. And I have been now in every country in the region, and I know there’s a (inaudible). There are still too many people who are terribly poor, too many children who don’t get the healthcare and the education they need, too many government officials that are not really serving the people. But there is good news as well.

And I want to commend the Government of Cambodia for their draft new trade law that could be a model for the region. It would extend rights and protection to domestic workers. It would allow people to join unions. And if this law is passed and enforced, it will set a very strong standard for the rest of the region.

Similarly in Vietnam, where I was a few days ago, there is still – there is also encouragement despite continuing problems. At the start of the year, a new anti-trafficking law came into effect. After reports of abuses on coffee plantations in Lam Dong Province, officials called for greater inspections and stricter punishment for illegal labor brokers. And Vietnam is working with the International Labor Organization to improve conditions in garment factories.

And the prospects for progress are even more dramatic in Burma, which for many years was one of the most repressive and closed societies in the world. I saw with great interest reports of the government in Nay Pyi Taw rolling back the restrictive and exploitative labor rules. Workers are beginning to organize, although they still face penalties for joining unregistered unions. There will be a lot of challenges, but I hope that we see continuing progress there.

Now, for our part, the United States is putting in place protections to ensure that the increased investment we would like to see advances the reform process. Because after all, what we want to do is make workers rights, rising wages, fair working conditions the norm everywhere. And we will be working with all of the countries represented here.

We’ve also made workers rights a centerpiece of a new far-reaching trade agreement called the Trans-Pacific Partnership. We are working with Vietnam, Malaysia, Australia, Canada, Mexico, and others in these negotiations.

We are also throughout Southeast Asia supporting training and workshops on international labor standards for union organizers, employers and government officials. We’re sponsoring exchanges so labor academics can learn from each other, and we’re helping police and prosecutors go after trafficking and other abuses.

We’re working with ASEAN to deal with the migrant worker problem. We have so many people across borders looking for better opportunities and are often exploited and abused. Now, after visa requirements among ASEAN countries becomes easier, then we need a framework on the rights of migrant workers by 2015.

We’re also working with labor ministries, and we’ve signed agreements with Vietnam and China that provide exchanges and technical assistance on a range of labor issues, from mine safety to social security.

America is a Pacific nation, and our futures and our fortunes are bound up with each other. So we want to work with all of you, and particularly on behalf of women and workers, because we think that holds the key. The World Bank has done some excellent research showing that if the barriers to women’s participation in the formal economy were eliminated, growth rates in every country would rise, and some would rise dramatically.

So when I talk to government officials who I can tell are not really interested in women, which I do from time to time – not women officials but the other kind, as you know – (laughter) – and I make the case that women’s rights should be protected and women’s opportunities should be advanced, sometimes I see their eyes glaze over. (Laughter.) And they say to themselves, I’m thinking as I look at them, well, she says that all the time. She goes around in the world talking about women’s rights, and that’s fine and I’ll listen to her, but I’m not really that interested.

But when I say if you will change your laws so women can open up bank accounts or women can have access to credit, so women can start new businesses as easily as men, so that women can have fair wages when they move into the formal economy, your GDP will rise, all of a sudden I see them waking up. (Laughter.) Because it’s true that I have spent many years of my life talking about how important it is that women be given the same rights as men and the same dignity so that they can fulfill their own God-given potential.

But the argument I’m making today and I’m making around the world is that you are losing out if you do not empower women as economic beings. Because I’ll go back to the experience I had in Africa. Now, I don’t think the economist I was talking to was prejudiced against women. I just don’t think he thought of all the things women do without being paid, that all of us do, have done, and continue to do to keep families and communities and societies and economies going.

And so therefore any country that wants to maximize their economic growth in a sustainable, inclusive way will be leaving money on the table if they don’t include women and do everything they can to show respect for what women can do for themselves as well as their countries.

So this is an exciting time to be a woman in Southeast Asia, because if we work over the next years to realize the potential that this conference demonstrated with all of the excellent recommendations that the ministers have told us about, then we will see Asia grow even faster and more successfully, and most importantly we will see more girls and boys having the opportunity to fulfill their own God-given potential.

Because after all, I think as a mother, what we want for each of our children and what we should want for every child is that chance to be all he or she can be. Because talent is universal, but opportunity is not. So for every child who is not educated, we may be losing a scientist who would solve multi drug-resistant malaria. We may be losing a great activist. We may be losing a great academic. Who knows? But one way for sure to maximize the chance of every society to do even better is to be sure we give women the chance to compete and to demonstrate what they can contribute to us all.

Thank you very much. (Applause.)

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Video Remarks for South Asia Women’s Entrepreneurship Event

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
December 10, 2012

The video below is available with closed captioning on YouTube

I’m sorry I couldn’t be there in person, but I am delighted to send best wishes to all of you as you come together to find ways to elevate the status of women.  I also want to thank the Government of Bangladesh for hosting.Closing the gender gap is a powerful prescription for economic growth.  The evidence is clear and the debate should be over.  But all over the world, women still face enormous obstacles to starting new businesses or expanding existing ones.  Many of you have faced these barriers firsthand.

That is why the United States has been working tirelessly to develop concrete solutions to these obstacles through our policies, programs, and diplomatic engagement.  And we are not alone.  Businesses, governments, and major financial and multinational institutions are stepping up to the plate with more inclusive policies to advance women’s entrepreneurship and economic development.

I often say that no country can prosper if half its population is left behind – so the work you all are doing will have a real return on investment.  By sharing best practices and brainstorming new initiatives, you are unlocking the potential of women across South Asia – and creating a brighter future for all citizens of the region.
Thank you for your efforts.  I look forward to hearing about the ideas you come up with.

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Classic HRC with many quotable quotes!  These are not “soft” issues!

Remarks to the Lower Mekong Initiative Womens’ Gender Equality and Empowerment Dialogue

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Sofitel Hotel
Siem Reap, Cambodia
July 13, 2012

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much, Minister Phavi, for that introduction and also for describing the results of what has been, by all reports, an excellent meeting. And I thank all the heads of delegations who are here and all of the attendees. I want to welcome all our partners from the Lower Mekong nation and from the Friends of the Lower Mekong. And I want to commend the Government of Cambodia for its leadership in the Lower Mekong Initiative and for co-hosting this conference.

We launched this organization three years ago to expand cooperation on issues that affect the daily lives of people across the region. And I’m getting some feedback. I’m hearing the Cambodian translation at the same time. (Laughter.) I wish I spoke Cambodian, but I don’t. So I was having a little trouble, but thank you for that.

We launched this organization three years ago to expand cooperation on issues that affect the daily lives of the people across the region, from protecting the environment to managing water resources to improving infrastructure, education, and public health. And now with the inclusion of the government in Nay Pyi Taw we are poised to make even greater progress together.
Yesterday in Phnom Penh, I announced that the United States is easing sanctions to allow American businesses to invest there. And today I am pleased to add that we are also launching a new partnership with the nonprofit Abbott Fund to invest one million dollars in the health and education for women and girls.

I am delighted that the Lower Mekong Initiative is now also focusing on the rights and opportunities of women. At the ministerial meeting in Phnom Penh this morning, we adopted a joint statement by all of the countries represented that will integrate gender equality and women’s empowerment through the LMI agenda. I like what the Minister said about how we came together to care to share and dare to dream, and I think that’s a very good description of what you have been doing here.

As Secretary of State, I make these issues about women and girls a priority everywhere I go. Because when women have the chance to participate in the economic and political lives of their communities, not only do their lives improve, but the lives of their families do as well. Commerce flourishes, instability declines, and you see a general uplifting of societies and nations. And I have met women all over this region who are living this truth every day – educators in Hanoi, entrepreneurs in Bangkok, democracy activists in Yangon, garment workers here in Siem Reap, women like all of you who are working hard for progress throughout the Mekong region.

Unfortunately, as you know so well, outdated legal and social barriers continue to limit women’s participation in business and politics. According to the World Bank, more than 100 countries have laws that restrict women’s economic activity, whether it is opening a bank account on their own, signing a contract, owning land, or pursuing the profession of their choice. And millions of women here in Southeast Asia are trapped in the informal economy, laboring in fields and factories for very low wages with very few protections. And of course, some have it even worse – victims of forced labor, forced prostitution, or other forms of modern day slavery.

Now, too often, discussions of these issues are on the margins of international debate. We have separate parallel conversations about women’s rights, about alleviating poverty, and then we have another conversation about international economics. But I once asked an economist in Africa, after spending the day traveling through an African country seeing women working in the fields, women working in the markets, women fetching fuel, women carrying water, women tending children – I asked, “Don’t you think it’s time we count women contributions to the economy in some way.” And he responded, “No, what they do is not part of the economy.” And I said, “Well, if every woman working in the field, in the markets, in the homes were to stop working for a week, I think every economist would learn they are definitely part of the economy.” (Applause.)

All these issues are related, and we need to start thinking about them in an integrated way, because in the end, what is an economy for? An economy is a means to an end. It is not an end in itself. An economy is to enable people to make more out of their own lives as well as to make a living. And therefore, the best economic systems are ones which give the most opportunity to the greatest number of people. And what we have to do in the 21st century is to take a hard look about what we can do, not just in Southeast Asia but around the world, to make sure that economies are working for people and not just people at the top, but people throughout society. Because, after all, most people don’t live at the highest, elite level of any society. That’s a very small group. And if the results of people’s hard work in any society is not spread across all the people but instead goes up to the top, you will not see the kind of progress that is possible.

So as I traveled across Asia this week – from Japan to Mongolia, to Vietnam, to Laos, and now Cambodia – I’ve been talking about the mutually reinforcing role that economics and human rights play in not only your lives, but in America’s engagement in the region – what is sometimes called our pivot to Asia. Labor issues promoting workers rights, improving labor conditions, supporting women’s economic participation, protecting people from modern day slavery is all part about how you build prosperous, peaceful societies.

And so today, I want to focus on the rights of workers here in Southeast Asia and in our modern global economy. It’s important that we understand fair labor standards for men and women can spur economic growth and widen the circle of prosperity. And governments, businesses, and workers all have a responsibility to make that happen.

So let’s begin with rights. The international community and international law recognize that workers everywhere, regardless of income or status, are entitled to certain universal rights, including the right to form and join a union and to bargain collectively. Child labor, forced labor, discrimination based on gender, race, ethnicity, religion, or other factors, should be universally prohibited.

So defending these labor rights and improving working conditions is a smart economic investment, but it’s also a very important value. Now back in 1999, my husband was president of the United States and the entire world was fiercely debating what we should be doing to deal with what is called globalization. Well, my husband gave speeches at both the World Trade Organization and the International Labor Organization. And he delivered the same message to each audience: To deny the importance of core labor issues in a global economy is to deny the dignity of work. The belief that honest labor fairly compensated gives meaning and structure to our lives.

Well, that was true then; it was true when I was a little girl and I watched my mother working in our home, and I watched my father working in his small business; and it is true today. Standing up for workers’ rights and high labor standards is both right and moral, but it is also smart and strategic. Just look at the progress that has taken place here in Cambodia.

In the late 1990s, this country was emerging out of years of war and economic ruin. Nearly 80 percent of Cambodians made a very meager living by subsistence farming. And the new government was looking for ways to boost growth and connect to the global economy. In the United States, my husband’s administration was convinced that trade incentives could be used to strengthen workers’ rights around the world. The result was an agreement – an agreement between the United States and Cambodia that opened American markets to Cambodian textiles in return for tough new monitoring programs in local garment factories. Now that agreement wasn’t perfect – no agreement ever is – and there are certainly, as I have heard, problems in garment factories across the country. But compare where Cambodia was in 1999 and where it is today. Working conditions have improved. Wages have risen. It has become easier to form a union, and instead of scaring off investors, the fact of these reforms actually attracted them.

Multinational clothing companies saw a chance to clean up their supply chains and improve their reputation. So they started buying more and more Cambodian products, and exports soared. Where there was once just a handful of state-owned textile and apparel factories employing only a few thousand people, within 10 years there were hundreds of new factories providing jobs for more than 350,000 Cambodians – mostly young women, who migrated from poor rural communities to earn wages far above the average of what otherwise would have been available to them.

Research conducted by the International Labor Organization and other institutions tell us that this is not an isolated example. Respecting workers’ rights leads to positive, long-term economic outcomes, including higher levels of foreign direct investment. And bringing workers, especially women, into the formal economy has ripple effects: Inequality declines while mobility increases, taxes are paid, countries and communities are stronger and better able to meet the rising expectations of their people.

Now the flip side of that is also true. Denying workers their universal rights costs society dearly in lost productivity, innovation, and growth, as well as undermining the rule of law and creating instability. So we should pay attention to these findings.

I do hope that decision makers around the world, including in my own country, actually look at evidence, because evidence matters. Whether you’re a scientist looking at research or a government official looking at analysis, look at the evidence. Here in Southeast Asia, economies have grown rapidly by attracting foreign investors looking for low-cost labor and material and by exporting affordable goods to more developed markets. But this export-driven model can only take a country and a region so far.

In the wake of the global financial crisis and worldwide recession, Asian countries can no longer count on endless demands from Europe and the United States. And by the same token, American manufacturers may be looking for new customers in new markets, especially in Asia. That’s why developed nations, like the United States, will need to build more at home and sell more abroad. And developing countries, in Asia and elsewhere, will need to grow a larger middle class that will fuel demand for both domestic and imported goods and services. Henry Ford, back at the beginning of the 20th century, when he started building cars in Detroit, Michigan back in the United States, paid his workers the unheard salary of $5 a day. And all of the other employers came to him and they complained that he was paying his workers too much and that would raise the wages of all the other workers in all the other businesses. And Henry Ford said, “If I don’t pay my workers, who will buy the cars that I am making?”

So if you begin to pay your workers more, they then buy more goods, which actually helps more businesses. And that is the next phase of growth in Asia, as well as the future of the global economy. We should not be in a race to the bottom. We should be in a race to see how we raise income, raise standards of living, and raise the sharing of prosperity. So for this to happen, we will have to make sure that women have the opportunity to move from the informal economy to the formal economy with employment. We will have to make sure that migrant workers are respected and protected, that people in modern-day slavery are free and rehabilitated. In effect, how do we transform the workforce to create more opportunities?

Well to begin with, governments will have to modernize labor laws to respect workers’ rights and ensure that men and women have fair, safe working conditions and can earn a living wage. And governments will have to get serious about enforcement, cracking down on unscrupulous recruiters, criminal traffickers, and abusive employers.

Now, strengthening the rule of law will not just protect workers, it will also attract investors and make it easier for everyone to do business. And multinational corporations, like those in America, will have to insist that every link in their supply chain meets international labor standards. Now, of course, I know there’s a price tag that comes with that. But it is an investment, and it’s an investment that will pay dividends, because it can be very attractive to consumers in my country, in Europe, and elsewhere to know that the goods they buy are being produced in conditions that really help people improve their own lives. And then, of course, workers will have to keep pushing for their own rights, organizing and advocating.

Now, it took decades of struggle for workers in America to form unions strong enough to protect their rights and secure changes like the eight-hour day and the minimum wage, but it helped to create the great American middle class. And we are now adjusting our economy to the new challenges, but we certainly were advantaged by all of the changes over the last one hundred years.

I think the nations of Southeast Asia are at the beginning of your own journey. I know that there are still many problems and a lot of poverty. And I have been now in every country in the region, and I know there’s a (inaudible). There are still too many people who are terribly poor, too many children who don’t get the healthcare and the education they need, too many government officials that are not really serving the people. But there is good news as well.

And I want to commend the Government of Cambodia for their draft new trade law that could be a model for the region. It would extend rights and protection to domestic workers. It would allow people to join unions. And if this law is passed and enforced, it will set a very strong standard for the rest of the region.

Similarly in Vietnam, where I was a few days ago, there is still – there is also encouragement despite continuing problems. At the start of the year, a new anti-trafficking law came into effect. After reports of abuses on coffee plantations in Lam Dong Province, officials called for greater inspections and stricter punishment for illegal labor brokers. And Vietnam is working with the International Labor Organization to improve conditions in garment factories.

And the prospects for progress are even more dramatic in Burma, which for many years was one of the most repressive and closed societies in the world. I saw with great interest reports of the government in Nay Pyi Taw rolling back the restrictive and exploitative labor rules. Workers are beginning to organize, although they still face penalties for joining unregistered unions. There will be a lot of challenges, but I hope that we see continuing progress there.

Now, for our part, the United States is putting in place protections to ensure that the increased investment we would like to see advances the reform process. Because after all, what we want to do is make workers rights, rising wages, fair working conditions the norm everywhere. And we will be working with all of the countries represented here.

We’ve also made workers rights a centerpiece of a new far-reaching trade agreement called the Trans-Pacific Partnership. We are working with Vietnam, Malaysia, Australia, Canada, Mexico, and others in these negotiations.

We are also throughout Southeast Asia supporting training and workshops on international labor standards for union organizers, employers and government officials. We’re sponsoring exchanges so labor academics can learn from each other, and we’re helping police and prosecutors go after trafficking and other abuses.

We’re working with ASEAN to deal with the migrant worker problem. We have so many people across borders looking for better opportunities and are often exploited and abused. Now, after visa requirements among ASEAN countries becomes easier, then we need a framework on the rights of migrant workers by 2015.

We’re also working with labor ministries, and we’ve signed agreements with Vietnam and China that provide exchanges and technical assistance on a range of labor issues, from mine safety to social security.

America is a Pacific nation, and our futures and our fortunes are bound up with each other. So we want to work with all of you, and particularly on behalf of women and workers, because we think that holds the key. The World Bank has done some excellent research showing that if the barriers to women’s participation in the formal economy were eliminated, growth rates in every country would rise, and some would rise dramatically.

So when I talk to government officials who I can tell are not really interested in women, which I do from time to time – not women officials but the other kind, as you know – (laughter) – and I make the case that women’s rights should be protected and women’s opportunities should be advanced, sometimes I see their eyes glaze over. (Laughter.) And they say to themselves, I’m thinking as I look at them, well, she says that all the time. She goes around in the world talking about women’s rights, and that’s fine and I’ll listen to her, but I’m not really that interested.

But when I say if you will change your laws so women can open up bank accounts or women can have access to credit, so women can start new businesses as easily as men, so that women can have fair wages when they move into the formal economy, your GDP will rise, all of a sudden I see them waking up. (Laughter.) Because it’s true that I have spent many years of my life talking about how important it is that women be given the same rights as men and the same dignity so that they can fulfill their own God-given potential.

But the argument I’m making today and I’m making around the world is that you are losing out if you do not empower women as economic beings. Because I’ll go back to the experience I had in Africa. Now, I don’t think the economist I was talking to was prejudiced against women. I just don’t think he thought of all the things women do without being paid, that all of us do, have done, and continue to do to keep families and communities and societies and economies going.

And so therefore any country that wants to maximize their economic growth in a sustainable, inclusive way will be leaving money on the table if they don’t include women and do everything they can to show respect for what women can do for themselves as well as their countries.

So this is an exciting time to be a woman in Southeast Asia, because if we work over the next years to realize the potential that this conference demonstrated with all of the excellent recommendations that the ministers have told us about, then we will see Asia grow even faster and more successfully, and most importantly we will see more girls and boys having the opportunity to fulfill their own God-given potential.

Because after all, I think as a mother, what we want for each of our children and what we should want for every child is that chance to be all he or she can be. Because talent is universal, but opportunity is not. So for every child who is not educated, we may be losing a scientist who would solve multi drug-resistant malaria. We may be losing a great activist. We may be losing a great academic. Who knows? But one way for sure to maximize the chance of every society to do even better is to be sure we give women the chance to compete and to demonstrate what they can contribute to us all.

Thank you very much. (Applause.)

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Remarks at the Innovation Awards For the Empowerment of Women and Girls Ceremony

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Benjamin Franklin Room
Washington, DC
March 9, 2012

SECRETARY CLINTON:Well, indeed, it is a pleasure to welcome all of you here to the State Department to what we call the Ben Franklin Room. Ben is right up there. He was probably our first well known innovator, and we think it’s especially appropriate that we would hold this occasion in this room with him looking over us.I want to thank Ambassador Verveer and her team for all the work that they have done in putting together these awards and in recognizing the importance of innovation in transforming the lives of women and girls around the world.

Over the past three years, we’ve been focused intently here at the State Department on the challenges facing women and girls, and we’ve done that not just because we think it’s a moral imperative and absolutely historically necessary. We’ve done that because we really believe that transforming the lives of women and girls transforms societies, countries, and our world. So we ask ourselves all the time how to create economic opportunities, how to improve women’s social and cultural standing, how to open up governments and political processes to women.

It is, for us, part of what we call “smart power.” The full participation of women is essential in order to raise the GDPs in every economy in the world, including our own; essential for achieving the peace and security objectives of American foreign policy; and we know that working with women and on their behalf can open doors for employment, healthcare, and education, which have ripple effects that lift entire communities, foster peace, prosperity, and stability.

But all that potential goes untapped when women have few resources and little support. That’s why two years ago, the State Department partnered with the Rockefeller Foundation to establish the Innovation Award for the Empowerment of Women and Girls. Now, these awards support our most creative thinkers and committed activists. Under the leadership of Dr. Judith Rodin, the Rockefeller Foundation understood that we could, together, enhance our impact and help unleash potential that would otherwise not be available.

So the innovations we’re supporting today help overcome some everyday challenges. For example, if women farmers in impoverished areas can’t afford irrigation equipment to grow profitable crops, how do we work with them to put the right tools at the right price in their hands? If jobs are out there but out of reach, what does it take to connect women with employers? If women and girls face dangerous and unpredictable work conditions, how can we help them organize, speak out for themselves, demand the protection and compensation they deserve?

We really believe – in fact, we know – that targeting specific problems with carefully tailored solutions can pay enormous dividends. Now, there are people who have been doing this for a long time around the world. One of them served on our screening committee for the awards, Muhammad Yunus. We’ve seen the difference that creative innovations can make, but we’ve also been absolutely amazed at what combining social media and the internet with good ideas can do to actually increase exponentially the impact of what our efforts are. So these awards may be facing age-old problems, but they are coming up with 21st century innovations.

Now, it’s only possible for us to do this because of strong, effective partnerships. Government can’t do it alone, the private sector can’t do it alone, civil society can’t do it alone. So what we’ve done is to try to bring people together in these partnership networks. That’s why we set up the Secretary’s International Fund for Women and Girls, which enables us to work with private sector partners to target funding. It’s why we created the incredible partnership office here so that we can work with a wide variety of partners. And with this award, the Rockefeller Foundation is fulfilling the promise of the International Fund for Women and Girls.

Now, I want to have just a moment of personal privilege here, because it’s exciting to see these three young women sitting here on this stage. I will be introducing them one by one as our award winners. But I think it’s very important to recognize that we have to empower young people – young men and young women. So we have begun a big youth initiative here at the State Department, and I rolled it out and announced it in Tunis about two weeks ago. Because honestly, innovation is a young person’s game, by and large. (Laughter.) So I want to encourage – I see some young people out there. I want to encourage you to take this work and just keep thinking and building on it.

So let me now begin by recognizing our awardees. These are innovators who are making a difference in India, Kenya, and Tanzania. These are people who looked at a problem and said, “I refuse to accept this. I’m going to do something about it.” And after I introduce each one, I’m going to ask them to say a few words to you, because obviously it’s more important to hear from them than it is for me.

Now, most Indian cities rely on workers from the informal sector to recycle their waste. These workers represent a small part of the population, but what they do can reduce a city’s waste by 20 percent. This is dangerous, dirty work – picking through garbage to remove recyclable material. Exposure to toxins and pollutants put their health at risk.

At the same time, the industry receives absolutely no formal legal recognition. There’s no system for protecting workers from danger or ensuring that they are treated fairly. Chintan, an Indian nonprofit, is working on the ground to train and organize waste pickers and to eliminate child labor from their ranks. This group is advocating for those who work in the informal sector, pushing for recognition, basic protections, and fundamental dignity.

Chintan’s efforts have reached more than 20,000 waste pickers in India in the past five years. More than 2,000 children have been pulled out of the trash heaps and put on a path toward education and opportunity. Chintan’s work in advocacy and research has expanded beyond local concerns and is helping change the way we understand informal labor sectors around the world.

It is also a stark reminder about why we must protect and advocate for the rights of workers to organize. In advanced economies, it is sometimes easy to forget what used to happen in our own factories, on our own shop floors, in so many industries where, yes, children were exploited and people’s working conditions were dreadful.

So, for all of these reasons, it is a pleasure to welcome Chintan’s founder, Bharati Chaturvedi. Thank you so much, Bharati. (Applause.)

MS. CHATURVEDI: Secretary of State Clinton, Dr. Rodin, on behalf of all these women and young girls who scavenge through the Indian middle class’s trash, I want to thank you for acknowledging them. The organization that I work with, Chintan, creates green jobs. We convert waste into social wealth, not just wealth. And these women I work with, their children don’t go to school. It’s hard for them to get in because there’s a lot of discrimination, and they experience a new kind of untouchability, even though what they’re doing is recycling our trash in a country that’s becoming more and more affluent.

We will use this award to get a lot of young girls into school out the trash heaps, but also create more and more green jobs for women waste pickers. But most of all, because poor women feel and experience the brunt of climate change, we also want to talk about how they can be foot soldiers in the battle against climate change. And through green jobs, we can really transform how cities in India – and India is an urbanizing country – how they experience just being better, more equitable cities and more inclusive of these people.

And we hope that this recognition helps us get Indians to recognize and embrace and acknowledge waste because – and realize that their work is important, not only for the recycling, but also because it makes our existence on this planet more sustainable. (Applause.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so very much for what you’re doing. And I also just want to make sure everyone knows and to announce that each of these recipients will receive $500,000 to assist them in their work. So we’re making a very big investment in each of these programs because we believe in their missions and we believe in their leadership.

Now, around the world there is an unmet demand for digital service jobs, tasks that can be performed online anywhere in the world for companies in the United States and elsewhere. In the world’s most impoverished areas, as many as 70 percent of the population is unemployed, but the people there don’t have the training or education or the technology to do the jobs that online digital jobs can provide.

In Kenya, Samasource is approaching this problem from two angles: first, providing women and girls with the training they need to do these online jobs; second, providing access to the internet so that this untapped workforce can connect with a waiting job market. So far, Samasource has connected more than 2,000 women with these jobs.

This new way of bringing opportunity to impoverished areas has gotten a lot of attention. Samasource is partnering with investors like the Ford Foundation, the eBay Foundation, and Google.org. I had the privilege of meeting its founder last fall and was very intrigued and impressed by what she was doing. I had no idea that she was going to be selected for this award, but I am delighted that she has been. And I want to welcome to the podium and introduce to you Leila Janah. (Applause.)

MS. JANAH: So a couple of days ago I was in San Francisco and I visited my favorite spot, which is the MLK Memorial in the center of the city. And I re-read one of Dr. King’s most favorited quotes. He said in 1964, “I have the audacity to believe that people everywhere can afford three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality, and freedom for their spirits.” And that was the year that we passed the Civil Rights Act. But now, 50 years later, women are still so far from achieving their economic potential in the world. Women account for 66 percent of the world’s output, and yet earn less than 10 percent of the income, and own less than one percent of the property. That’s a one percent that we don’t hear very much about these days. (Laughter.) So I think today’s award ceremony is really about turning that around. We are so thrilled to accept this award from three visionary women, Secretary Clinton, Dr. Rodin, and Ambassador Verveer, who have each devoted a substantial part of their lives to advancing women and girls.

We plan to use this transformational grant to employ one thousand women across our centers in East Africa through microwork, which is an innovative model that connects them directly into the supply chains – the digital supply chains of some of the world’s largest companies, like Intuit and eBay. And what’s really amazing about our program is that, beyond just the income, these women start viewing themselves as equal members of society. They start voting, they start demanding equal access to things, they start investing in the health care and education of their children. I really look forward to the day when Dr. King’s belief does not seem so audacious, particularly for the 50 percent of the world’s population that’s currently waiting to unleash its potential. Thank you so much. (Applause.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you, Leila. Now in Tanzania, women farmers cannot often afford the tools they need to irrigate their crops, which makes it much harder to keep their crops healthy and profitable, especially during the dry season. So a few years ago the NGO, KickStart – I love that name, KickStart – developed the MoneyMaker Hip Pump. (Laughter.) It costs about $30, it looks sort of like a big bicycle pump, and this new irrigation tool allows women to grow fruits and vegetables throughout the year. It’s lightweight and easy to use. And now KickStart has introduced a micropayment program so that women can pay for it over time if they need to.

This initiative is transforming agriculture for women in Tanzania and I predict soon will across the continent and the world, because if you just stop and think, that 60 to 70 percent of the small-hold farmers in the world are women, this has enormous potential. I think the last figure we saw was, as of January, nearly 30,000 pumps have been sold. This is a model that can be replicated again and again. By harnessing technology and spurring entrepreneurship, KickStart is changing the way we work to alleviate poverty and promote development. So I’m very pleased to present the Secretary’s Innovation Award to KickStart, and I’d like to invite Anne Otieno to accept the award. She is Tanzania’s Country Manager.

Anne. (Applause.)

MS. OTIENO: Thank you so much. I’m really honored to be here. It’s actually my first time in America. It’s a great honor to really come and receive this award on behalf of KickStart Tanzania. But I just want to share with us a little bit about what we do back at home in Tanzania. Like, you’ve already heard – that in rural Africa, 80 percent of them are poor farmers. And out of that, we at KickStart, we have introduced the MoneyMaker pump which has helped many to start agribusiness through irrigation, because many families in Africa wait for the rain. But when they’re able to irrigate their land, they’re able then to start to grow high value crops, which means that they’re able to sell crops when nobody else is selling, they’re able to get access for their crops, which is not so during the rainy season because everybody else is already doing it.

So in KickStart Tanzania, we’ve been able to work with women. We’ve seen many of the women being able to lift their lives out of poverty by starting small agribusiness through the MoneyMaker pump. The only obstacle around it has been, women have to save for it – they have to save for like eight months to be able to buy the pump. Now with the new layaway mobile system that we want to start, we will be able then to turn around and get many women to be able to get the pumps within two and a half months – about 10 weeks. And so that way, we will be empowering more women to get out of poverty. Thank you so much. (Applause.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you. Well, I have to say that this is one of these programs that gets me very excited and encouraged, because we are answering needs, fostering innovation, helping to recognize young leaders like these young women. And we couldn’t do it alone. We do need partners and I want to invite my friend and my partner, Dr. Judith Rodin, to the podium. Judith’s visionary leadership at the University of Pennsylvania, now at the Rockefeller Foundation, is opening up a lot of space to do things that just were not even imagined in the past. So Judith, please.

MS. RODIN: Thank you so much. Let me begin by thanking Secretary Clinton and Ambassador Verveer for their extraordinary leadership, not only as really living wonderful examples of the embodiment of achievements of women, but also for their enduring commitment and empowering others and raising awareness of so many of the world’s most pressing and most important challenges, particularly those facing women and girls.

I’d like to congratulate this terrific group of winners. This is the inaugural Secretary’s Innovation Award for the Empowerment of Women and Girls. And you’ve heard from them and you can understand why we’re so excited about them. We are thrilled at the Rockefeller Foundation to be able to provide the funding for these awards and to be associated with these amazing group of innovators. And we believe that with this half a million dollars, there can be really acceleration of what are wonderful models, bringing them further to scale. There are so many terrific pilots that falter because of that lack of next-step funding, and when we talked about what this award could do, we really felt that we could take some of those pilots and give them that accelerating capital that would move things forward and begin to help taking it to scale. And it’s critical that we do more of that.

For almost 100 years now, the Rockefeller Foundation has been enabling innovations and investing in innovation that have led to huge improvements in the well-being of humanity. From funding an unknown scholar named Albert Einstein to catalyzing the field of public health around the world, to creating the green revolution in Asia, the Rockefeller Foundation has always been committed to identifying and then supporting innovation, scaling them and applying them to the most pressing challenges facing humankind.

The innovators here today have made great strides in one of these critical challenges: the empowerment of women and girls, particularly in the developing world. But as Leila said, the story is far from over. The problems facing women and girls worldwide are still very real. We’ve heard the statistics about work. We know that 70 percent of the world’s one billion people living in poverty, still living in poverty, are women. And we know that despite the fact that the majority of the producers of food, the growers of food in the developing world are women, they make up 60 percent of the chronically hungry.

At the Rockefeller Foundation, one of our primary objectives is to expand opportunity for more people in more places around the world. And so I’m particularly delighted that these three winners are really focusing on economic empowerment. Chintan’s innovative work on green jobs and advocacy and organizing in India is an incredible example of really bringing all of these things together. I’d like to again, take a moment of personal privilege and express Rockefeller’s special pride in the other two award winners because they are or have been our grantees: Samasource and KickStart, doing extraordinary work that you’ve heard about.

These award winners really demonstrate the power of innovation to accelerate the well-being of humanity, and it is exciting to see three young women sitting here because they hold the keys to the future. I want to thank Secretary Clinton again for using her inimitable star power to shine a light on these organizations and for challenging all of us to continue to support innovations like these and to bring them to scale to ensure that their benefits are shared by more people around the world. That is really how we will ultimately solve these pressing global challenges. Thank you. (Applause.)

AMBASSADOR VERVEER: So this brings us to the end of our ceremony this morning, but to the beginning of greater innovation and impact around the world. We congratulate our awardees, wish them well, thank them for what they’ve done and will continue to do. We thank Dr. Rodin for this collaboration. And of course, we thank our Secretary for her extraordinary leadership. Thank you all for joining us. (Applause.)

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