Archive for the ‘Women’s History Month’ Category

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


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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Mme. Secretary spent the first half of Women’s History Month in D.C. hosting the annual Women of  Courage Awards with First Lady Michelle Obama,  addressing the 2012 U.S. Institute of Peace’s U.S.-China Conference,  presenting  the Secretary’s Innovation Award for the Empowerment of Women and Girls, and attending to her usual bilateral duties and  meetings before participating mid-month in the Women In the World event in New York City.  Also in New York she participated in a U.N. Security Counsel meeting and a Quartet meeting.  Upon her return to D.C. she hosted the second annual Chiefs of Mission conference at which John Kerry, named her successor yesterday, gave the keynote speech to the luncheon. (That was the day I knew she wanted him to succeed her).

There were receptions and a dinner  in honor of U.K.  Prime Minister David Cameron’s visit to D.C. on the 14th.  Then she chaired the President’s task force  on trafficking in persons.  St. Patrick’s Day was the deadline  I had set for her to resign and challenge for 2012, but she did not.  Ed Koch, however, well before 2012 resolved,  started the 2016 ball rolling by mentioning Hillary.  I have never seen anything like that in my life!  Four-and-a-half years before an election suggesting the next nominee was phenomenal.

On the 19th she welcomed Northern Ireland officials Martin McGuinness and Peter Robinson.  She celebrated Amelia Earhardt, saw Little Rock International Airport renamed for her and her husband.  She addressed water issues and received an  award,  and ended the month wheels up  for Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

Here are the archives for March 2012.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ge Clinton Meets With Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh At State Dep't Clinton Meets With Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh At State Dep't Hillary Rodham Clinton US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton s U.S. Secretary of State Clinton speaks during her meeting with South Korean Foreign Minister Kim at the State Department in Washington Hillary Rodham Clinton 03-09-12-16 03-09-12-17 03-09-12-18 03-09-12-19 03-10-12-01 03-10-12-04 03-10-12-05 US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ar US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ad US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ad US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ar US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ge US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ad US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ad British Foreign Secretary William Hague (R) greets U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton before an Official Arrival Ceremony for British Prime Minister David Cameron on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner ( David Cameron, Hillary Rodham Clinton US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (L David Cameron, Hillary Rodham Clinton David Cameron, Hillary Rodham Clinton US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton li US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (2 US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (C US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (R 03-15-12-21 03-15-12-22 03-15-12-32 Hillary Clinton Meets With Libyan Prime Minister Abdurrahim El-Keib US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sp U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks during the State Department's 2012 International Women of Courage Award winners ceremony in Washington Hillary Clinton And Michelle Obama Host Int'l Women of Courage Awards Ceremony 03-18-12-52 03-18-12-53 Hillary Rodham Clinton, Peter Robinson, Martin McGuiness US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sp Hillary Rodham Clinton, Owen Paterson Hillary Rodham Clinton, Owen Paterson 03-20-12-03 Hillary Rodham Clinton Hillary Clinton Meets With Afghan Foreign Minister At State Dep't Hillary Rodham Clinton US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Cli US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Cli Hillary Rodham Clinton, Jim Yong Kim U.S. President Obama introduces Dartmouth College President Jim Yong Kim as his nominee to be the next president of the World Bank, in Washington US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Cli U.S. President Obama introduces Dartmouth College President Jim as his nominee to be next president of World Bank in Rose Garden of White House US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Cli US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton an US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton an US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sp US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sp US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sp US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sp Mideast Saudi Arabia US Clinton U.S. Secretary of State Clinton arrives for the Gulf Cooperation Council forum at the Gulf Cooperation Council Secretariat in Riyadh Saud Al Faisal, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Sheikh Sabah Khaled al-Hamad Al-Sabah US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Cli Saud Al Faisal, Hillary Rodham Clinton US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sp Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Fa Mideast Saudi Arabia GCC Clinton US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton le Saudi Arabia Clinton Mideast Saudi Arabia Clinton Mideast

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I deliberated long and hard about posting these, and they are not the only examples bouncing around on the web.  In the end, they are Hillary news, so I suppose they merit some attention.

The first one, by Maureen Dowd, appeared days ago.  I first saw it in the New York Times.   This particular publication came from The Seattle Times.  Alluding to remarks HRC delivered last week at the Women in the World Summit,  Dowd postulates thus.

Originally published Wednesday, March 14, 2012 at 3:30 PM

A riled Hillary is a formidable foe

The attempt by Republican men to wrestle American women back into chastity belts has not only breathed life into President Obama, writes Maureen Dowd, it has roused and riled Hillary Rodham Clinton — not a wise thing to do.

By Maureen Dowd

Syndicated columnist

Hillary Clinton has fought for women’s rights around the world. But who would have dreamed that she would have to fight for them at home?

“Why extremists always focus on women remains a mystery to me,” she told an adoring crowd at the Women in the World Summit at Lincoln Center on Saturday. “But they all seem to. It doesn’t matter what country they’re in or what religion they claim. They want to control women. They want to control how we dress. They want to control how we act. They even want to control the decisions we make about our own health and bodies.

Read More>>>>

The war on women in this country is genuine. We need our women leaders, and I am sure most American women see Hillary Clinton as the most powerful and vocal of these, particularly on women’s issues, but Hillary cannot do it alone.  She needs her army behind her.  Women need to recognize the level of threat to their personal freedom, get mad, and get active.

Men, even those on our side of the aisle,  do not share the sense of urgency Dowd telegraphs.  They put forth her name but… not now.

From The Gothamist.

Hillary Clinton 2016: Pundit Put Likelihood At 99.4%

Secretary Clinton at the 2012 Global Chiefs of Mission Conference yesterday (AP)

Will the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pantsuits come back in four years? Game Change authors John Heilemann and Mark “Obama is a dick” Halperin were on Morning Joe this morning predicting that Secretary of State is interested in running for President again.

Heilemann, who covers politics for New York magazine said the chances were “99.4. I think very high,” while Halperin, an editor at Time, said, “A little lower. I think that if Joe Biden wins re-election and runs, she’s much less likely to run.”

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Then there is Ed Koch, former Mayor of New York, who sometimes pals around with Republicans.  As Politico reports.

Ed Koch pushes Clinton on 2016 run


3/15/12 5:21 PM EDT

(AP Photo)

Former New York City mayor and Hillary Clinton booster Ed Koch wants to see a Clinton 2016 run, and he made his feelings clear to the Secretary of State at Wednesday’s state dinner, according to the New York Times:

Mr. Koch also said he spoke with the secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, and encouraged her to run for president in 2016.

“I said, ‘Everybody’s running you for president again — count me in!’” he said. “And there were other people there who applauded.”

Read more>>>>>

I have been addressing the issue of the war on women primarily at The Department of Homegirl Security , which is a defense blog,  and not in the context of Hillary making another presidential run.  But in this  particular post,  Falling Short,  I did state a position similar to what Dowd said.  Women leaders, acting as surrogates for Obama on this issue inspire far more confidence in me than he who prefers to lead from behind.  Dowd’s questions mirror my own thinking.  She ends her op-ed thus:

Women who assumed that electing Obama would lift all minority boats are beginning to think: Maybe he’s not enough.

If the desire of all these conservative male leaders to yoke women is this close to the surface, if they are perversely driven to debase women even though it could lead to their own political demise, then women may require more than Obama.

If women are so vulnerable, they may need one of their own.

Is she inevitable?

It is possible that she is, but generals do not win wars without troops.  She needs her army.  I know you are all still here.  We have been together for almost five years now and never left her side.  Join Americans Elect.  Be a delegate for Hillary because, no, Obama will not be or do enough and we cannot afford to lose this war.

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Here’s our girl at “Women in the World 2012” today.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Remarks at the Women in the World Summit


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Lincoln Center
New York City
March 10, 2012

SECRETARY CLINTON:So how do you like my jacket? (Laughter and applause.) I cannot believe what just happened. (Laughter.) I really had no idea what was going to be portrayed or done by Meryl. I thought we might get some extraordinary renditions of everyone from Aung San Suu Kyi to Indira Gandhi, a reprise of Margaret Thatcher. And it was quite astonishing because I’ve always admired her. And as she said, we do unfortunately throughout our lives as girls and women often cast an appraising eye on each other. I’m just glad she didn’t do a movie called The Devil Wears Pantsuits. (Laughter.)But just as I marked various stages of my life by remembering what amazing role she was playing at the time, it is quite a humbling experience to have someone who I admire so greatly say what she said today. Because the work that I’ve done has been work that I felt drawn to for some of the same reasons that Meryl and I share these generational experiences, particularly these big-hearted mothers who challenged us to go as far as our efforts could take us.

So here we are at the end – it truly is the end – of the conference that has brought all of these women of the world, in the world, to New York. And I want to thank Tina Brown and her entire team that worked so hard to enable everyone to see what I get to see all the time. (Applause.) I just can’t thank you enough. (Applause.)

Because for me, it has not been so much work as a mission, it has not been as strenuous as it has been inspiring, to have had the chance throughout my life, but certainly in these last 20 years, to have the privilege of meeting women and girls in our own country and then throughout the world who are taking a stand, whose voices are being heard, who are assuming the risks that come with sticking your neck out, whether you are a democracy activist in Burma or a Georgetown law student in the United States. (Applause.)

My life has been enriched, and I want yours to be as well. I am thrilled that so many of you have taken the time out of your own lives to celebrate these stories of these girls and women. And of course, now I hope that through your own efforts, through your own activism, through the foundations, through your political involvement, through your businesses, through every channel you have, you will leave here today thinking about what you too can do. Because when I flag in energy, when I do recognize that what my friends are telling me – that I need more sleep – is probably true, I think about the women whom I have had the honor to work with. Women like Dr. Gao, who Meryl met, who is about – well, she’s shorter than the podium. She is in her ‘80s now. She did have bound feet. She became a doctor and she was the physician who sounded the alarm about HIV/AIDS despite the Chinese Government’s efforts for years to silence her.

Or I think about Vera, the activist from Belarus whom I met. She’s worked so hard to shine a spotlight on the abuses happening right inside Europe one more time – another regime that believes silencing voices, locking up dissidents, rigging elections, is the only way to stay in power. So she and her allies brave the abuse every single day to say no, there is another way.

Or Inex, who Meryl also mentioned, who I got to know during our efforts on behalf of the peace process in Northern Ireland. And she was reaching across all of these deep divides between the communities there, trying to forge understanding and build bridges. And like Muhtaren, the Pakistani young woman who had been so brutally assaulted for some absurd remnant out of an ancient belief in settling scores between families which should have no place in any country in the 21st century – (applause) – she was expected to kill herself. Well, of course; you’ve been shamed, you’ve been dishonored; through no fault of your own, you are now dead to us, so just finish the job. Well, she not only didn’t, but she is a living rebuke to not only those who assaulted her but to the government that did not recognize it needs to protect all of its girls and women, because without their full involvement in their society, there can never be the progress that is so necessary.

Now, I doubt any of these women would have ever imagined being mentioned on a stage by an Oscar-winning actress. I know I didn’t imagine I would be so mentioned on this stage. (Laughter.) But they are because they are special. We know about their stories. Somehow, we have seen their struggles break through the indifference and the resistance to telling the stories of girls and women who are struggling against such odds across the world.

But they also represent so much more. Because this hall – I know because I know many of you – are filled with women and men who are on the front lines fighting for change, for justice, for freedom, for equal rights. And there are tens of millions more who need our support. So what does it mean to be a Woman in the World? Well, I too believe it means facing up to the obstacles you confront, and each of us confront different kinds. It means never giving up – giving up on yourself, giving up on your potential, giving up on your future. It means waking early, working hard, putting a family, a community, a country literally on your back, and building a better life.

You heard from Zin Mar Aung, the Burmese democracy activist who spoke earlier. When I met her late last year when I, on your behalf, on behalf of our country, went to Burma, I discussed with her and other activists what civil society would now be able to do to further the political and the economic reforms that the people so desperately need. And we did honor her along with nine extraordinary other women as International Women of Courage at the State Department.

She, as you could see, came out of prison not embittered, although she had every right to be so, but determined, determined to make her contribution. She didn’t have time to feel sorry for herself, to worry whether her hair was the right shade or the right length. She got to work. And because of her, she’s founded four organizations, she’s working with young people and women to build civil society and citizenship. She raises funds for orphanages, she helps the families of political prisoners trying to re-enter into society, and she is one of those watering the seeds of democracy.

Or consider the young Nepali woman Suma, who sang so beautifully for us. (Applause.) You know what her story was. Six years old, sold into indentured servitude, working under desperate conditions, not allowed to go to school, not even allowed to speak her own native language. But then finally rescued by an NGO, an organization supported by the United States State Department, your tax dollars, called Room to Read, helped her enroll in a local school. We’ve helped 1,200 girls across India, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka complete their secondary education.

So there is much we can do together. And I have to tell you, I thought it was exquisitely appropriate as I woke up and was getting ready this morning to open The New York Times front page and see Christine Lagarde and Angela Merkel there. (Applause.) I know both of them and I think they are worthy of our appreciation and admiration, because boy, do they have hard jobs. Christine, who was here, is demonstrating not only her leadership at the IMF but also sending a message that there is no longer any reason that women cannot achieve in business, finance, the economy. And Chancellor Merkel is carrying Europe on her shoulders, trying to navigate through this very difficult economic crisis.

Now, I also heard a report of the call to action and the passion that Leymah Gbowee, our Nobel Peace Prize winner, along with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf from Liberia summoned you to. Now, for those of you who have seen the movie Pray the Devil Back to Hell, you know what happened in Liberia in the spring of 2003. But for others of you who may not yet have seen it, I urge you to do so, because thousands of women from all walks of life – Christians and Muslims together – flooded the streets, marching, singing, praying. Dressed all in white, they sat in a fish market under the hot sun under a banner that said: “The women of Liberia want peace now.” And they built a network and they delivered for their children and for future generations. It was an extraordinary accomplishment. (Applause.)

And when the peace talks finally happened in Ghana – not in Liberia – they went to Ghana. They staged a sit-in at the negotiations, linked arms, blocked the doors until the men inside reached an agreement. So the peace was signed, the dictator fled, but still they did not rest. They turned their energies to building an enduring peace. They worked to elect Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who became the first woman ever elected president of an African country. And in January, I had the honor of attending her second inauguration. (Applause.)

I just saw my good friend, President Jahjaga of Kosovo. She’s a very young president, but already her life is a testament for what women can do to promote peace and security. She was still a student when the war started. She saw so much suffering. She wanted to help. So after finishing her studies, she became a police officer. She worked closely with international troops to forge a fragile peace. She rose through the ranks and eventually became the leader of the new Kosovo police force. And then just last year, she became the first woman elected president anywhere in the Balkans. (Applause.) And she has worked to bring her country together to promote the rule of law, ethnic reconciliation, regional stability – all the while standing up for the rights and opportunities of women and girls.

You can look around the world today and you can see the difference that individual women leaders are making. Dilma Rousseff in Brazil, former Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, who’s now leading UN women. They carry an enormous load for the rest of us, because it is hard for any leader – male or female. But I don’t fear contradiction when I say it is harder for women leaders. There are so many built-in expectations, stereotypes, caricatures that are still deeply embedded in psyches and cultures.

When I sat down alone for dinner with Aung San Suu Kyi back in November, it really did feel like meeting an old friend, even though it was the first time we’ve had a chance to see each other in person. Of course, from afar I had admired her and appreciated her courage. I went to the house where she had been unjustly imprisoned. Over dinner, we talked about the national struggle, but we also talked about the personal struggle. How does one who has been treated so unjustly overcome that personal sense of anger, of the years that were lost, families that were no longer seen, in order to be a leader that unites and brings people together? Nelson Mandela set such a high standard, and he often told me how going to prison forced him to overcome the anger he felt as a young man, because he knew when he walked out that prison door, if he were still angry, if he still was filled with hatred, he would still be in prison.

Now, Aung San Suu Ky, like Nelson Mandela, would have been remembered in history forever if she had not made the decision to enter politics, as he did as well. So there she is at, I think, 67, out traveling in an open car through the heat of the countryside, meeting crowds of tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands, absorbing their hopes that they are putting onto her. She knows that when she crosses into politics, even though it is ultimately the way change is made that can last, she moves from being an icon to a politician. I know that route. (Laughter.) And I know how hard it is to be able to balance one’s ideals, one’s aspirations, with the give and take of any political process anywhere in the world.

Now, we can tell stories all night and we can talk about the women who have inspired us. But what inspires me is not just who they are, but what they do. They roll their sleeves up and they get to work. And this has such important implications for our own country and for our national security, because our most important goals – from making peace and countering extremism to broadening prosperity and advancing democracy – depend to a very large degree on the participation and partnership of women.

Nations that invest in women’s employment, health, and education are just more likely to have better outcomes. Their children will be healthier and better educated. And all over the world, we’ve seen what women do when they get involved in helping to bring peace. So this is not just the right thing to do for us to hold up these women, to support them, to encourage their involvement; this is a strategic imperative.

And that’s why at the State Department, I’ve made women a cornerstone of American foreign policy. I’ve instructed our diplomats and development experts to partner with women, to find ways to engage and build on their unique strengths, help women start businesses, help girls attend school, push that women activists will be involved in peace talks and elections. It also means taking on discrimination, marginalization, rape as a tactic of war. I have seen the terrible abuses and what that does to the lives of women, and I know that we cannot rest until it is ended.

In December, we launched a U.S. National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security, which is our roadmap for how we accelerate and institutionalize efforts across the United States Government to advance women’s participation. And we’re taking on some really tough problems. We’re trying to build local capacity. We’re giving grants to train women activists and journalists in Kenya in early-warning systems for violence. We’re supporting a new trauma center for rape victims in Sudan. We’re helping women in the Central African Republic access legal and economic services. We’re improving the collection of medical evidence for the prosecution of gender-based violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

And that’s just the beginning, because from around the world, from Iraq and Afghanistan to Sudan to the new transitional democracies in the Middle East and North Africa, we’re expecting our embassies to develop local strategies to empower women politically, economically, and socially.

But we are watching carefully what is happening. We are 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. We were delighted that our great Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg went on a State Department-sponsored trip to Egypt and Tunisia. And while there, she rightly said the daughters of the Middle East “should be able to aspire and achieve based on the talent God gave them and not be held back by any laws made by men.” (Applause.)

Just a few weeks ago in a town hall meeting in Tunis, a young woman wearing a head scarf stood up and talked about her experience working in partnership with the U.S. Embassy in a program that we call Bridge to Democracy. She said that often people she met were surprised that a young women wearing a hijab would work with Americans, and that we would work with her. Gradually, she said, these preconceptions broke down and increasingly people are just eager to find new partners to help build their new democracy. I told her that in America, in Tunisia, anywhere in the world, women should have the right to make their own choices about what they wear, how they worship, the jobs they do, the causes they support. These are choices women have to make for themselves, and they are a fundamental test of democracy.

Now, we know that young woman in Tunisia and her peers across the region already are facing extremists who will try to strip their rights, curb their participation, limit their ability to make choices for themselves. Why extremists always focus on women remains a mystery to me. But they all seem to. It doesn’t matter what country they’re in or what religion they claim. They want to control women. They want to control how we dress, they want to control how we act, they even want to control the decisions we make about our own health and bodies. (Applause.) Yes, it is hard to believe that even here at home, we have to stand up for women’s rights and reject efforts to marginalize any one of us, because America needs to set an example for the entire world. (Applause.) And it seems clear to me that to do that, we have to live our own values and we have to defend our own values. We need to respect each other, empower all our citizens, and find common ground.

We are living in what I call the Age of Participation. Economic, political, and technological changes have empowered people everywhere to shape their own destinies in ways previous generations could never have imagined. All these women – these Women in the World – have proven that committed individuals, often with help, help from their friends, can make a difference in their own lives and far beyond.

So let me have the great privilege of ending this conference by challenging each of you. Every one of us needs to be part of the solution. Each of us must truly be a Woman in the World. We need to be as fearless as the women whose stories you have applauded, as committed as the dissidents and the activists you have heard from, as audacious as those who start movements for peace when all seems lost. Together, I do believe that it is part of the American mission to ensure that people everywhere, women and men alike, finally have the opportunity to live up to their own God-given potential. So let’s go forth and make it happen. Thank you very much. (Applause.)

Added bonus: Here is a lovely article by Eleanor Clift  about how Meryl Streep introduced our cherished Secretary of State.

Meryl Streep to Play Hillary Clinton?

by Mar 10, 2012 3:11 PM EST

The Oscar-winning actress compares herself to the secretary of state, with not a few eyebrows raised.


… Streep catalogued the parallel path that she and Clinton traveled, both products of public high schools who then went on to attend a women’s college. Both called home from the dorm that first semester, worried they weren’t as smart as the other girls and shouldn’t be there. “Don’t be ridiculous; you’re not a quitter,” their mothers told them. Both went on to graduate school at Yale. That’s where their paths diverged, Streep said. “I was a cheerleader; Hillary was head of student government. I was the lead in all three musicals; I’m told that Hillary should never be encouraged to sing…”
“But she is the voice of her generation. I’m an actress, and she is the real deal,” Streep said. Holding up the Oscar she won for her portrayal of Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady, Streep declared, “This is what you get when you play a world leader, but if you want a real world leader, and you’re really, really lucky, this is what you get.” And with that, Streep turned to welcome Clinton on stage.

Read the article  >>>>

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metyl streep tribute, posted with vodpod

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Today is the day our girl takes the stage at “Women in the World.” and we eagerly await her words and of course photos of the event.  Chelsea has spent the past few days there and has been updating us at her Facebook page.

Welcome to Day Three!

by Mar 10, 2012 1:49 AM EST

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Oscar-winning actress Meryl Streep, California Attorney General Kamala Harris, Burmese activists, young feminist bloggers and many more round out our final day.

… Before lunch, we’ll shift gears to examine the challenges facing girls—and the innovative ways in which they’re harnessing technology. ABC’s Juju Chang will speak with Women in the World Foundation president Kim Azzarelli about the organization’s ambitious new on-campus initiative. Chelsea Clinton lead a panel on how young women can use social media to advocate for the issues they care most about. We’ll also hear from Talia Leman, CEO and founder of RandomKid.org, a grassroots group that mentors children who want to help others.


…   And last but certainly not least, the summit will wrap up with a special performance by Oscar-winning actress Meryl Streep—before U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton takes the stage to deliver the weekend’s closing address
See the summit’s complete agenda

Read more >>>>

Watch live >>>>

Here are the beautiful pictures from last year’s event. Enjoy!

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


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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International Women’s Day

Press Statement

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
March 8, 2012


Today, we honor women from all corners of the globe and the unique contributions they make. For over one hundred years, International Women’s Day has been a beacon of hope for so many women on the frontlines of progress who have fought to lift up their communities, their societies and change our world.

We have made enormous progress in recent history. In the last year alone, women have marched, blogged, tweeted, and risked their lives all in the name of dignity, rights, and opportunity. Last October, the Nobel Committee took the historic step of awarding the Peace Prize to three extraordinary women for their contributions in advancing human rights.

But challenges still remain. Too many women have found their attempts to participate in government, in the economy, and in society blocked. Women still disproportionately suffer from poverty and violence. Their voices are muffled and their presence denied at the places where critical decisions are made. They face nationality laws that deny them equal rights to citizenship. And women and girls are all too frequently deprived of access to reproductive healthcare, education, and the credit needed to launch small businesses.

That is why the Obama Administration is accelerating efforts to advance and institutionalize women’s participation in making and keeping peace, including the launch of a U.S. National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security. And that’s just the beginning, because around the world, from Iraq and Afghanistan, to South Sudan, to the new transitional democracies in the Middle East and North Africa, our embassies are developing local strategies to expand political, economic, and social opportunities for women.

The United States is committed to making women and their advancement a cornerstone of our foreign policy not just because it’s the right thing to do. Investing in women and girls is good for societies, and it is also good for the future prosperity of countries. Women drive our economies. They build peace and prosperity and political stability for everyone—men and women, boys and girls. So let us recommit ourselves to a future of equality. Together, we can ensure that all people everywhere have the opportunity to live up to their God-given potential.

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Remarks at the International Women of Courage Awards Ceremony


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Melanne Verveer
Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues
First Lady Michelle Obama
Dean Acheson Auditorium
Washington, DC
March 8, 2012

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you all. Thank you very much. Thank you. Good morning and welcome to the State Department once again. I am so grateful that all of you have joined us here today for what has become, in our view, one of the most important and special occasions of the year here in Washington. I want to thank my friend and colleague, Ambassador Melanne Verveer who has been, as you know, a tireless champion for women and girls for decades. (Applause.) Melanne and her team have not only made this event such a special occasion year after year, but they have helped put women and girls at the center of everything we do here at the State Department and in the Obama Administration. So thanks again, Melanne. Although, it was left out of her mention of the 7th grade girls that one of them is her granddaughter. So – (laughter) – she is very committed to the next generation, and I thank you for everything you have done and will do.Now, why is this a special occasion? Well, for one thing, it is the way we mark International Women’s Day, to gather leaders and activists, and particularly our honorees here in Washington to recognize their remarkable achievements. And for the fourth year, we are so honored to be joined by the First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama. (Applause.) Now, I do take a point of personal privilege in talking about the First Lady, because I have just an inkling of what her life is like every day – (laughter) – and I want to publicly thank her for being an inspiration for women and girls and families and communities here in the United States and around the world.

It’s always an honor to share a stage with her, and I think it’s also a reminder that we have a lot of work to do. It is, of course, about the leadership and the voice of a first lady or a secretary of state, but it is much, much more than that. And what Michelle and I have tried to do in our own ways is to lift up the voices of others, because we want a great crescendo of voices, an international chorus that says clearly and unequivocally that women and girls deserve the same rights and opportunities as their fathers and brothers and sons. And today, we will hear remarkable stories from our honorees. They come from diverse and distant places, but in one important way they all walk the same path. They, too, are working tirelessly for justice. They are working for accountability. They are working for freedom, and they are working tirelessly to improve the lives of women and girls.

Whether pushing for change in the halls of government in the Maldives, the courts of Saudi Arabia; whether making sure women have a voice in Libya’s future and a role in Pakistan’s government; whether enduring imprisonment or abuse for trying to assist other women and girls at risk, these women, who you will meet today, are all making a difference in the face of adversity, often under the threat of violence that is sometimes hard for those of us here in Washington or across our great country even to imagine. And while we honor them today, we know that tomorrow their work will and must continue so that every woman and girl someday will have the opportunity to live up to her own God-given potential.

As I often say, this isn’t just the right thing to do; it is also the smart thing to do. Improving the lives of women improves the lives of their families, strengthens their communities, and does create more opportunities for economic growth and prosperity. We know that investing in women’s employment, health, and education levels leads to greater economic growth across a broad spectrum. It also leads to healthier children and a better educated population overall. We know that political systems that are open to full participation by women produce more effective institutions and more representative governments. And we know that the work that so many of you do will be done day after day as it moves us closer and closer to realizing the vision of equality.

As long as you are on the front lines of this struggle, the United States will be with you, and we will use every tool at our disposal to help you. That’s why next week when all of the United States ambassadors from around the world gather here in Washington, I will be issuing the first ever Secretarial policy directive on gender. This guidance – (applause) – this guidance, which complements the recently released USAID gender policy, will instruct our embassies and bureaus to implement specific steps to promote gender equality and advance the status of women and girls in all of our work in order to further both our national security and our foreign policy goals.

Now, this issue is not just a priority here at the State Department or at USAID, but across the Administration, and that is why we are so pleased that the First Lady is here lending her support. She and President Obama have made it absolutely clear that women and girls will be a focus of what we do here at home and around the world.

Last year, Mrs. Obama traveled to South Africa and spoke at a forum for young women leaders from across Africa. And she told those bright, young women that now is the time for their voices to be heard. For them and for so many others, she said that the power was in their hands to help usher in an era when women would no longer be second-class citizens, and they would be able fully to participate in open and accountable government. I cannot think of anyone better to carry that message and to signal America’s commitment to advancing the rights and opportunities of women and girls, and I’m so grateful to both President and Mrs. Obama for all they have done to make this a priority.

So please join me in welcoming our First Lady, Michelle Obama. (Applause.)

(The First Lady makes remarks.)

MS. GBOWEE: Thank you. Please have your seats. Thank you. Tina Brown has a way — not Tina Brown, Oprah Magazine – (laughter) — did something on Abby and I, Abby Disney, and they said “the rabble rouser.”. And I hate to come to places like this and see everyone trying to be so neat. (Laughter.)

Today is International Women’s Day and it’s a day of celebration. Can the men in the room just shout Happy International Women’s Day to all of the girls in this room? (Laughter.) If you don’t, we’ll put you out. (Laughter.)

I’m listening. Shout Happy International –

AUDIENCE: Happy International Women’s Day!

MS. GBOWEE: Thank you. (Applause.) You deserve it.

In 2003, we were in a crowd protesting the wars in Liberia. Someone came and brought me a book, Living History, Secretary of State Clinton’s book. And as I flipped through the pages of that book, there was a quote in there that I’ve used over time, a quote from the great African American freedom fighter here Harriet Tubman. “If you’re hungry, keep walking. If you’re tested, keep walking. If you want a taste of freedom, keep walking.” Today, as we celebrate International Women’s Day, the 10 Women of Courage here have shown to us that regardless of wherever they find themselves, they’ve been walking – Walking for justice, walking for human rights, walking for maternal health, walking for every other thing. One of the things I’ve seen, sadly, even as we celebrate all of the milestones – Beijing 1325, 1820, 1888, and all of those policies and international protocols on women’s rights, over time we’ve mellowed. The women’s movement of this world has mellowed. Our issues and our conversation has become issues for men. I get angry when I think about it. No woman should sit down and allow a man to speak about her reproductive rights. (Applause.)

MS. GBOWEE: Until you’ve gone through that process, I’ve come from Africa to tell you, you don’t qualify. (Laughter.)

Issues of peace and security should not be left to men alone to work on. (Applause.) When it comes to conflict situations, women know their context, they have greater analysis, and they know what to do. I didn’t come here to preach; I don’t have a lot of time. What I’ve come to say to my sisters as we celebrate International Women’s Day, Secretary of State, Ambassador Verveer, and First Lady Obama, I think it’s time for us to really start to move forward with our issues. Gone are the days for us to sit and say we’ve gotten policies, we’ve gotten this, we’ve gotten that. It’s time for us to get out there, roll up our sleeves, and connect the dots. These women are working very hard. And yes, we can give them all of the verbal support, we can give them all of the honors, but until we continue to make it possible for them to work through resources, their issues will continue to be issues for politicians to use to make themselves look good when it’s elections time. It’s time for us to stand up, rise up, fight for the rights that we know how to fight for. It’s time for us to support our sisters. (Applause.)

I’ve been an activist all of my life and I know what it is and what it takes to get to where you want to get to. I know what it is when you need to do something for little girls today as we celebrate International Women’s Day here. We’re celebrating International Women’s Day in Acrah, Ghana with little girls at the La Palm hotel. I tell you, as beautiful as it sounds, getting resources to get those girls to that place is a difficult thing. Let’s honor them, but not just leave them with the honor. Let’s support their work, support their efforts, and continue to make their issue our issue, and not a politician issue.

Thank you all very much. (Applause)

MS. KARMAN: After Leyman — (laughter). And also, it’s hard to talk in English, so I will do my best. Ladies and ladies – (laughter) – happy birthday. (Applause.)

Ladies and gentleman, really I am so proud to be here to celebrate with you an International Women’s Day. This is special day, special day for all of us, special day for all the women around the world, for all the women especially in Arab countries after Arab Spring. (Applause.)

Yes, this is a year without bin Ladin. This is a year without Qadhafi. This is a year without Mabarak. This is a year without Ali Saleh. And this is a year, inshallah, without Bashar al-Assad. (Applause.)

So this is nice morning, good morning for all of us, morning of freedom and dignity and courage. To all the women around the world, you have to trust yourself. You have to know that without you, you can’t – and your society, your community couldn’t achieve their goals and their dreams. To all women in the world, you must know that you have to be in the front line. You have to refuse any seats back. You have to be in the front and you have to struggle for all the rights, not just women rights. (Applause.)

Greetings, big greetings to all women who are fighting for help or for their participating in public and political rights. Public and political field, this is a very important field for every woman and for every society. I want to say also big greetings to all the women, all women in Syria who are fighting for her – for their freedom. (Applause.)

Big greetings to all women who are struggling and suffering and sacrificing their life, their bloods, for making their country best for freedom, for dignity, and for happiness. To all people around the world, you have to know that without women, you can’t achieve everything. Especially men, men has to be with women. They have to work hand by hand for solving all problems around the world, for making peace spread around the world. To all of them, I want to tell them that we will not make the holiday or the ceremony for women just one day. We will make it 365 days. Thank you very much. (Applause.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Wow. Well, I have to tell you, whenever I hear Leyman or Tawakkol, I’m just so inspired. These two women have made such a difference in the lives of their country. For those of you who haven’t seen Pray the Devil Back to Hell, which talks about what Leyman and her Liberian sisters did to end a vicious civil war and bring peace to Liberia, I highly recommend it. And to my friend, Tawakkol, who’s been on the front lines of the struggle for freedom and democracy in Yemen, it is so humbling to see the progress that you are making.

It is now my honor to present this year’s International Women of Courage Awards, and I would ask each of the honorees to join the First Lady and me one at a time after I read the citations. And before I begin with the individual presentations, I want to say that the call to action we heard from our two Nobel Laureates is one I hope everyone will remember. Sometimes the women we honor come here against great odds and in the face of danger. Sometimes shining this bright spotlight on their work protects them. But they all come with a commitment to continuing that we have to embrace and support. Because each of them can use our help.

So with that, let me begin.

While it’s a struggle for many women in Afghanistan to have their voices heard, Maryam Durani is working to make sure that women’s voices aren’t only heard, but amplified and broadcasted. She owns and manages the only local radio station that focuses on women’s issues. Kandahar province, where Maryam lives, is one of the most dangerous areas of Afghanistan, but that has not stopped her from speaking out for women’s rights and representing those ideas from her seat on the provincial council. Airing such bold ideas in public is not always popular, and she is with us today having survived several attempts on her life. Yet she pushes forward undeterred, ensuring that those voices and the message of equality and inclusion is heard loudly and clearly.

So to you, Maryam: “Director of the Khadija Kubra Women’s Association for Culture Kandahar and Provincial Council Member: For striving to give a voice to women through the power of the media, government, and civil society, despite innumerable security and societal challenges.” We honor and applaud you. (Applause.)

Major Pricilla de Oliveira Azevedo joined the Rio De Janeiro Police Force in 1998 and went to work in police battalions, cracking down on the criminals who plagued the beautiful, lively streets of Rio. She was eventually kidnapped by a gang seeking to undermine the rule of law in Brazil. Eventually, she was released, and the mayor demonstrated her duty and also extreme courage and commitment by going after and arresting the gang of criminals who had kidnapped her. (Applause.)

Today, she is a prominent leader in the police force in Rio de Janeiro, and she continues to work with local governments to improve services and expand access to education and vocational training.

So to Pricilla, to Major: “General Coordinator for Strategic Programs, Rio de Janeiro State Secretariat of Public Security, Major of Rio de Janeiro State Military Police: For courageous and dedicated service to Rio de Janeiro State’s innovative ‘Favela Pacification Program’ as the first female commander of a Pacification Police Unit, and as coordinator of that in the State Security Secretariat, where she is integrating previously marginalized populations back into the larger Rio de Janeiro community.” Thank you, and God bless you for your work. (Applause.)

Eleven years in a Burmese prison could not silence Zin Mar Aung. Her life’s work has been promoting democracy, women’s rights, and conflict resolution in Burma. Today, she leads a self-help association for female ex-political prisoners as well as a school of political science. Her efforts have allowed former prisoners to take advantage of rebuilding their lives, even when her activism jeopardized her own freedom. She continues to raise awareness of issues affecting ethnic minorities in this evolving environment for civil society and democracy activists.

So, Zin, you are a democracy activist, and so: “For championing democracy, strengthening civil society, and empowering individuals to contribute meaningfully to the political transformation of your country, we thank you and salute you.” (Applause.)

Jineth Bedoya Lima built her career in Colombia as a reporting seeking out tough assignments and going to great lengths to uncover the truth. But in 2000, she got too close to uncovering an arms smuggling ring involving government prison officials and imprisoned paramilitary leaders. When she traveled to the prison to interview some of those involved, she was kidnapped, driven two hours out of Bogota, raped, bound, and thrown into a garbage dump. “Pay attention,” she was told by her abusers. “We are sending a message to the press in Colombia.” Despite the most horrific treatment any woman can imagine, Jineth would not be silenced. Instead, she built on her work as an investigative journalist and demanded justice in her own case. She has become an outspoken advocate, shining a light on issues of sexual violence and denouncing criminals who think they can operate with impunity.

So to you, Jineth: “Journalist, Spokeswoman of the ‘Rape and Other Violence: Take my Body Out of the War’ Campaign: For your unfailing courage, determination, and perseverance while fighting for justice and speaking out on behalf of victims of sexual violence in Colombia, all women and girls are in your debt.” Thank you. (Applause.)

As the dust of the Libyan revolution settles, the details of those tumultuous months are coming to light. We honor today Hana El Hebshi, a 27-year-old architect who was one of the people who documented that history while it was unfolding. Writing under the pseudonym Numidia, her reporting not only showed the world what the people of Libya were enduring, but let the people of Libya know that the world was standing with them. She remains a strong voice for freedom of expression and women’s inclusion as the Libyan people chart the course for their country’s future.

So, Hana: “Human Rights Activist: For courageous advancement of the cause of freedom and the freedom especially of expression, and for the promotion of women’s rights during times of conflict and transition in Libya, we thank you and we thank all of Libya’s daughters and sons who have made their country free. (Applause.)

Even though the topic of domestic violence was taboo in the Maldives, Aneesa Ahmed, the Deputy Minister of Women’s Affairs, was unafraid to speak out and take action. She brought together citizens and stakeholders to build new partnerships to produce a series of documentaries to raise awareness about this issue and to begin the process of changing the way people think about it. As a government official, she pushed for legislation to curb domestic violence. And since leaving the government, Aneesa has founded her own NGO, Hope For Women. Her group works to ensure that domestic violence issues are part of the public discourse and in the debates in government.

When religious leaders got on the radio and said that female genital mutilation was an acceptable religious practice, Aneesa fought right back, telling the public about the harmful effects of this practice and calling on the government to intervene to stop it. She is inspiring others to speak out about these once hidden problems, urging students and police officers and activists to confront these issues in the open.

So Aneesa: “Founder, member and chairperson, Hope For Women NGO, for your courageous and continued advocacy for women’s rights throughout government and civil society as well as the protection of women from domestic violence, we thank you for improving the lives and sending the message that domestic violence is not a cultural practice, it is a crime.” (Applause.)

Shad Begum encouraged women in her community to participate in the political process by voting and running for office herself. Now she lives in one of the most conservative areas of Pakistan, so this was a very tall order. Nevertheless, she did, herself, run for office against candidates who wanted to ban women from participating in elections altogether. Despite that sort of resistance, she won a seat on her district council in 2001 and 2005.

She continues her work creating opportunities for women beyond government. She also founded the Union of Women’s Welfare, which is providing women the skills and knowledge they need to get involved in the political process, as well as offering microcredit, primary education, and human services for women in need.

So Shad: “Executive Director, Anjuman Behbood-e-Khawateen Talash, thank you for fearlessly championing Pakistani women’s political and economic rights, and working to empower the disadvantaged and oppressed. You are making a difference and setting an example for women and men in your country.” (Applause.)

Samar Bedawi is standing up against two of the most significant challenges facing women in Saudi Arabia: women’s sufferage and a system in which women cannot marry who they want, get a job of their choosing, or travel outside the country without permission of a male guardian. She is demanding that her voice be heard and justice delivered in the Saudi courts. Samar was the first woman to sue her guardian because she hadn’t been allowed to marry the person she wanted to marry. She is also the first woman to file suit against the government for the right to vote in municipal elections. Samar has translated her personal efforts into broader campaigns, encouraging more women to speak out for their rights, and her efforts are making a difference. A recent royal decree will allow women to vote and run for office in future elections as well as be appointed to the consultative council.

So Samar: “You are a Human Rights Activist, a monitor of human rights in your country of Saudi Arabia, and you have demonstrated significant courage in your activism while becoming a champion in the struggle for women’s suffrage and legal rights in your country. And you are making a difference, and we thank you for that.” (Applause.)

Hawa Abdallah Mohammed Salih has spent much of her life surrounded by conflict. Nine years ago, she and her family were forced to flee their home to escape the fighting between Darfuri rebels and the Sudanese Government. Years in a camp for displaced persons ignited within her the drive to demand basic human rights for so many suffering in the Darfur region. She went to school – the University of Al-Fashir – and began working with the United Nations Development Program on issues of human rights, rule of law, and governance. Her aim now is to continue working to strengthen the rights of women and children in Sudan.

So, Hawa: “Human Rights Activist, thank you for giving voice to the women and children of Darfur and for your fearless advocacy for the rights of all marginalized Darfuris. And we hope and pray with you that peace will finally come to Darfur.” (Applause.)

Safak Pavey has tireless passion and she has brought that energy to work on behalf of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Her advocacy around the world is helping to protect so many people. When she was elected last June, she became the first woman with a disability to sit in the Turkish Parliament. (Applause.) But she has transformed her disability into a strength. Wherever she travels, and she’s traveled quite a lot, she is bringing attention to the issues that affect persons with disabilities, vulnerable populations, women, children, and minorities.

I am very grateful to you, Safak, grateful for your advocacy, grateful for the courage it took to run for the parliament, grateful for your personal dignity and your determination not only in overcoming physical disabilities, but in emerging as such an effective local and global champion for the rights of women, refugees, persons with disabilities, and so many others. We really honor you because you are going beyond the expectations that were set for you in your life, and by doing so you are breaking down barriers not only for your fellow Turkish citizens but for women and men everywhere. (Applause.)

Well, I don’t know about you, but I always come away from this event not only inspired, which I think you’d have to be brain dead not to be inspired – (laughter) – but also challenged. Because after all, we must ask ourselves, “What are we doing? What are we doing to further justice and dignity and freedom, human rights and women’s rights? What more can we do? And we have different talents. We are at different stages in life. But each of us can make a contribution. And I hope that when you think about what is possible for you, you will remember these women and their stories.

So we wish to congratulate our honorees, to thank our Nobel Laureates, to thank Mrs. Obama for once again joining us and giving so much emphasis to the concerns and needs of women and girls here and everywhere. But I also have to say I would hope someday within my lifetime to see that we no longer had to do events like this, that we no longer had to honor women for taking the actions they have taken – (applause) – because we would continue advancing on the great unfinished business of human history, that women and girls are respected and are given the right to fulfill their own God-given potential.

That is my hope, and that is what each of these women in her own way is working toward, to be accepted for who she is, to be respected for the work she does, to be a contributor to that better future that we all hope and pray for. So let’s leave from today with a new resolve to do everything we can to hasten the arrival of that future. Thank you all very much. (Applause.)

AMBASSADOR VERVEER: And now to say a few words on behalf of all of the Women of Courage, our awardee from Burma, Zin, come on up here. And I know you all want to hear from her. (Applause.)

MS. AUNG: Good morning, everybody. First of all, I would like to start by thanking the Secretary of State Mrs. Hillary Clinton, the Department of State, and we are honored to be with the First Lady Mrs. Obama. And also, I am very pleased as I am here getting an opportunity to speak on the behalf of the Women of Courage awardees. Though we are from different parts of the world, we meet and we came here with the same shared goals, that is to stand for justice, peace, and freedom. I dare to speak that this award encouraged not only for us but also for all of the women who want to change the unjust and unreasonable practice of their society.

For Burma, it is now very critical time for democratic reform, and it is also the time to ask the questions: What is the role of women in democratic reform, and how much we can do? Fortunately, we already have an inspiring women leader, Aung San Suu Kyi. In traditional society, the (inaudible) of the role of the women is that women just became wives, which means women are objectives of choice of men. Actually, the ability to choose is the only significant differences between human and other creatures. We women are human and so we much choose what we want to become or what we want to have in our lives. Those women of courage are now here and it is great pleasure for me to be in front of them. And we are here to appreciate, to initiate the sisterhood of the future leaders.

Finally, I would like to appreciate the hospitality of the United States and I would like to appreciate the United States Embassy in Burma because of their great effort to get my passport so that I – (laughter) — am here right now. (Applause.)

Let me stop by saying that when we dream a single dream together, dream comes true. Let’s dream together for our future for the better world.

Thank you. (Applause.)

AMBASSADOR VERVEER: And so everyone, as Zin said, and thank you for that, the sisterhood of future and present leaders, they are all. I want to thank on behalf of all of us, all of you for joining us today, and I want to thank our colleagues throughout the State Department and particularly in our embassies around the world who did so much to make this day possible. Now if you could all just stay seated for a few moments as we take a group photo, and allow the guests to leave the stage, and then you can head for the doors. Thank you all so much. (Applause.)

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Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to Announce the Winners of the first Innovation Award for the Empowerment of Women and Girls

Notice to the Press

Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
March 7, 2012


On Friday, March 9, 2012 at 9:45 a.m., Secretary Clinton and The Rockefeller Foundation President Dr. Judith Rodin will announce the recipients of the Secretary’s Innovation Award for the Empowerment of Women and Girls.

The Secretary’s Innovation Award for the Empowerment of Women and Girls seeks to identify and support innovative ideas that hold the promise of transforming the lives of women and girls around the world. The Award is funded by The Rockefeller Foundation through the Secretary’s International Fund for Women and Girls, and awardees are chosen by a panel of experts who are themselves innovators. This year’s awardees from India, Kenya and Tanzania represent scalable innovations in the sectors of agriculture, technology, economic empowerment and the “green” economy. We are honored to have as jurists this year Mohammed Yunus (Grameen Bank), Cherie Blair (Cherie Blair Foundation), Sheryl Sandberg (Facebook), Beth Brook (Ernst and Young) and Noeleen Heyzer (United Nations).

The event will be held in the Benjamin Franklin Diplomatic Reception Room and will be streamed live on http://blogs.state.gov.

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US First Lady Michelle Obama (R) and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton attend the International Women of Courage Awards at the State Department in Washington, DC on March 8, 2011. AFP PHOTO/YURI GRIPAS (Photo credit should read YURI GRIPAS/AFP/Getty Images)


2012 International Women of Courage Ceremony and Awardees

Notice to the Press

Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
March 5, 2012


Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will host the 2012 International Women of Courage Awards Ceremony with special guest First Lady Michelle Obama on Thursday, March 8. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues Melanne Verveer and other U.S. and foreign dignitaries will also participate. Special guests this year include Ms. Leymah Gbowee and Ms. Tawakkol Karman, 2011 Nobel Peace Prize Laureates. The event will be held at approximately 11:00 a.m. in the Dean Acheson Auditorium of the U.S. Department of State.

The prestigious Secretary of State’s Award for International Women of Courage annually recognizes women around the globe who have shown exceptional courage and leadership in advocating for women’s rights and empowerment, often at great personal risk. Since the inception of this award in 2007, the Department of State has honored 46 women from 34 different countries.

Following the awards ceremony, the International Women of Courage will travel to 10 different U.S. cities to engage with their American counterparts through the International Visitor Leadership Program, including Bozeman, MT; Cincinnati, OH; East Lansing, MI; Indianapolis, IN; Jackson, WY; Kansas City, MO; Minneapolis, MN; Pensacola, FL; St. Louis, MO; Salt Lake City, UT; and Seattle, WA. Their visit to the U.S. began on March 5th with a stop in Pittsburgh.

The names of this year’s honorees follow and full biographies and photos are available here: http://www.state.gov/s/gwi/programs/iwoc/2012/bio/index.htm

  • The Honorable Maryam Durani, Kandahar Provincial Council Member (Afghanistan);
  • Major Pricilla de Oliveira Azevedo, police officer, Rio de Janeiro Military Police (Brazil);
  • Zin Mar Aung, political activist and NGO co-founder (Burma);
  • Jineth Bedoya Lima, investigative journalist (Colombia);
  • Hana Elhebshi, architect and political activist (Libya);
  • Aneesa Ahmed, gender-based violence (GBV) activist and former Deputy Minister of Women’s Affairs (Maldives);
  • Shad Begum, human rights activist and founder/executive director of Anjuman Behbood-e-Khawateen Talah (the Union of Women’s Welfare) (Pakistan);
  • Samar Badawi, political activist (Saudi Arabia);
  • Hawa Abdallah Mohammed Salih, human rights activist (Sudan);
  • The Honorable Safak Pavey, Member of Parliament (Turkey)

The International Women of Courage Award Ceremony will be livestreamed at www.state.gov.

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