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Posts Tagged ‘Women in government’

We are bloody but unbowed. Yesterday, after massive efforts of letter writing, phone calling, emailing, and petition signing, Betsy DeVos was confirmed as Secretary of Education by an historic tie-breaking vote by VP and Senate President Mike Pence.

Not long afterward, the effort to confirm Jeff Sessions, noted bigot, as Attorney General ran into an effort by Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) to read a letter penned in 1986 by Coretta Scott King in opposition to Sessions being appointed a federal district judge in Alabama.

We see how this is going.

Here are the Twitter hashtags.

“Silencing Elizabeth Warren”

#LetLizSpeak

#ShePersists

#ShePersisted

Here is the exchange on the Senate floor.

The swamp gases in DC are toxic.

Stay battle-ready. This is just the beginning.

Thank you, Liz!

Here is the letter.

My Senator, Cory Booker.

From Hillary Clinton:

Happy Black History Month!

Cross-posted at The Department of Homegirl Security.

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It is the media.  It is not the mainstream media, and it is not some post-hip sobriquet like the lamestream media which, face it, along with Repugnican, wingnut, Freeper, Faux News, and a host of other tired old terms has passed its hour to be purged from the language.  It is the media’s job to report.  As citizens, our job is to communicate among ourselves on what and how they report, which is another reason to avoid slangy terms.  There is nothing hip or particularly communicative about acting like teens speaking in adult-proof code.

Marshall McLuhan said, “The medium is the message.”  All of the media, these days, seem to be sending one message which, so far, only theSkimm has actually articulated.

 

theSkimm makes it easier to be smarter.

We’re the daily e-mail newsletter that gives you everything you need to start your day. We do the reading for you – across subject lines and party lines – and break it down with fresh editorial content.

We read. You Skimm.

The idea is arguable, no laughable, that consuming what has been read and broken down for you makes you smarter.  At least theSkimm comes out and says it has put your veggies in a KitchenAid with apples, pears, and high fructose corn syrup.  All of the media do it, and it is a little like reading Lamb’s Tales but not as elegant or as much fun.  At its worst, it leaves huge information gaps that abound among the electorate and presents an exercise in frustration for those who prefer their asparagus and brussels sprouts whole and unadulterated.

There was a time, in the early days of this blog,  so,  not that distant in the past, when I could go to media sources and find an entire interview to post.  Today, a mere seven plus years into this work, all I can find are media bytes.  Little 1.5 – 3.5 minute spoonsful.  As theSkimm unabashedly tells you,  it is all cut up and pre-chewed for you – like baby food.  Unfortunately, they are the only ones telling you that,  leaving the impression that you are getting the whole story from other sources, but that is not the case.  Most of what you find today is Gerber’s in another guise, and it no longer seems to matter whence the source – there no longer is a mainstream.  The media has achieved true social, if not economic, democracy.

When I posted, two days ago, about Fareed Zakaria’s stroke of genius in dividing his interview with Helen Mirren in two and asking her how she would portray Hillary Clinton, I gave credit where it was not due.  That was not Fareed’s fault entirely, although he did supply the mini-clip of the conversation.  Throughout yesterday, additional stories about Dame Helen’s remarks arose, and I added one of those to that post.  Nothing I read or posted prepared me for the whole, real story.  Nothing rectified my initial misconception.

Who, then, had the brainstorm and should have received the credit?  It was not the interviewer.  It was Dame Helen herself who brought up the subject of Hillary Clinton, along with her own appetite to play that role should a script appear.   She did insert a disclaimer that there was some self-interest,  but that was not really why the subject came up.  The topic was roles for women on stage and screen.

Dame Helen has long been an advocate for broader, deeper, more complex longitudinal portrayals of women in drama.  In an age when sustainability is a buzzword and even, somehow, an area of academic pursuit, female actors have less sustainable careers than their male counterparts, and, as Mirren points out, ever has it been so.  The Bard did not provide much in the way of roles for mature women which is why Mirren portrayed Prospero as Prospera in Julie Taymor’s fantastic production of The Tempest.  It is a matter of taking on and refitting the male roles for the mature woman.  She stopped short of suggesting she would ever play Lear.  Here is how Hillary and 2016 actually entered the conversation.

ZAKARIA: Over the span of a 50-year career in acting, Helen Mirren has done a lot of things. She has done everything from high Shakespearian theater to the scandalous 70s film of “Caligula,” played everything from a queen to a Mossad agent, and won everything from an Oscar to a Tony to an Emmy. But the one thing she has never played is a Bond girl. Is she bitter? Not Dame Helen.

ZAKARIA: You said we’ve all sat and watched as James Bond has become more and more geriatric. While his girlfriends —

HELEN MIRREN, ACTRESS: Get younger and younger. That was the case for a while, wasn’t it? I mean, it was like embarrassing. I thought it was ridiculous.

ZAKARIA: But do you think it’s — is it a big problem in Hollywood that men get cast for roles well into their 60s and 70s, and for women it’s more of a struggle?

MIRREN: It is more of a struggle. But even Shakespeare did that to us, you know. As you get older, even the Shakespeare roles become — that’s why we have to start stealing the men’s roles, you know. Doing like I did “The Tempest,” Prospero. And it’s great that a lot of women are, you know, doing Hamlet, doing “Henry V.” I’m a sure there will be a female Othello soon. And I love that. I think it’s absolutely great. Because, why not.

Video >>>>

But it’s changing. I’ve always said, don’t worry about roles in drama — well, do — moan and complain, and I do. But really spend your energies on changing roles for women in real life, because, as night follows day, as the roles for women in real life change, they will change in drama. And I really hope that we’re going to see a female president in the next — when are the elections?

ZAKARIA: 2016.

MIRREN: 2016. Oh, not till then. A while. Oh, next year! So I hope we see a female president next year. That would be absolutely fantastic, and that would make a huge difference to the understanding of what women can be.

ZAKARIA: Do you think you could pull off the accent for Hillary Clinton?

MIRREN: She would be a wonderful person to play. Somewhere down the line, someone will do a story. Because she has had — well, it was an extraordinary trajectory, and the brilliance, brilliance at handling her world.

helen-mirren-honored-hollywood-walk-of-fame-03And what unbelievable challenges she’s had over the years.

ZAKARIA: If you were to compare the two, the queen and Hillary, what is the defining character of Hillary Clinton that you, as somebody playing her, imagine to be playing her, what would you be trying to capture?

Video >>>>

MIRREN: That’s a very interesting question. I mean, the enormous intelligence, the brain that I think is very, very, very fast-moving. And I think the incredible tenacity. The queen of — Elizabeth Windsor, I call her, is — it’s a different — hers is I just — put my head down, I do what I’m supposed to do, I do it as well as I can, and I don’t argue, and I don’t complain, and I just do it. Hillary is much fiercer than that. It’s, you know, she is a lioness of a kind. A lioness. And the — Elizabeth Windsor is not, you know. I don’t know what animal she is. I’ll have to think about that one.

Read more >>>>

08-18-15-OZ-12

No run up to this interview prepared me for Dame Helen being the one who brought up Hillary and the election.  Everything that was out there – and ended up in the earlier post – led me to think it all Fareed’s idea.  These two videos are all that CNN offers.  Not the entire interview.  Only these.  Important content has been skipped,

The real story was much deeper than an interviewer with a campaign cycle agenda.  It was a woman  with a much bigger agenda, changing the roles of women in the world.

Why did I not know that this was Helen’s subject to raise?  Because of the piecemeal nature of reportage.  The story was cherry-picked for me by the host and by those who wrote about the interview in advance having seen it in advance.  This was not at all about a smart anchor raising a brilliant question, as the promos had me believe.  It was about a brilliant female leader perceiving the value of expanding the roles of women in general and, as an example and role model, promoting one brilliant woman in particular.

Why was that not the message we all received as we looked forward to this interview?  Because the media adulterated it, masticated and strained it for our consumption, just like baby food, and all the good stuff stayed in the strainer and went into the compost bin.

This was less about Helen Mirren wanting a role and therefore wanting Hillary Clinton to ascend to that role than it was about Helen Mirren wanting to boost all women and recognizing Hillary’s ascendancy for its value in that social revolution.

Maybe the fault in the previews had something to do with men having provided all the promotional reports I saw about this interview. Not that they necessarily meant to, but they edited out those crucial first words on the subject.  Men are used to Hillary being brilliant and fierce and many men support her.  Is it possible that, to more men than I would hope, this was somehow scary?  “Spend your energies on changing roles for women in real life.”   Why was that part of the story excised?

Thank you, Dame Helen Mirren for your wise advice.  You are one of the most brilliant people around, and I cannot imagine two better role models and leaders for women than you and Hillary Clinton.

We women, especially,  should be wary.  When we see clips of Hillary, we miss some of the context.  That original clip of Helen lacked important context.  So much of the time all we see, and all I can find, are the little pre-digested bytes, bits,  and pieces.  I have always tried to find full transcripts and videos of Hillary’s speeches and remarks, but even at her campaign site they are few and far between.  All the information comes in memes, clips, and shorthand.  If the medium is the message, as McLuhan said,  we are all being shortchanged.

APB, Media!!!   We do not really need you to do the hunting for us. Lionesses come in prides!  We hunt.  We have teeth!  We can rip the meat off the bone and chew it for ourselves.

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

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

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

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

Remarks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you very much. (Applause.)

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Remarks at Women’s Breakfast

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Prinz Carl Palais
Munich, Germany
February 5, 2012

 


SECRETARY CLINTON: (Applause.) Well, thank you so much. Thanks to the Bavarian State Chancellery, which is hosting us, especially to Minister Merk, for organizing this breakfast, and to all of you for getting up so early on a Sunday morning in the cold to come out to show solidarity and support for women in international security. I wanted to make just a few brief comments and then if anyone has something they want to say or ask before I have to go to Bulgaria, I would be very pleased to respond.

I wanted to just focus our attention on an area that is of critical importance in which we are making some, but not enough, progress. And that was the passage of the historic UN Security Council Resolution 1325. We recognize that when we think about peacemaking, which is, after all, one of the critical tasks of any of us in international security, that something is missing. And that is women. There are not enough women at the table, not enough women’s voices being heard. And when the Security Council passed Resolution 1325, we tried to make a very clear statement, that women are still largely shut out of the negotiations that seek to end conflicts, even though women and children are the primary victims of 21st century conflict.

And this is not just a faraway problem. Where I was sitting up on the stage at the Munich conference, I was trying to count what looked to be the heads of women. And there were not enough, I have to tell you. (Applause.)

PARTICIPANT: Thirty-seven.

SECRETARY CLINTON: I don’t know. Thirty-seven? Thirty-seven. Well, I didn’t get that high a number, but I take your word for it.

And in the last two decades, dozens of conflicts have persisted because peace efforts were unsuccessful. Talks broke down, agreements were broken, parties found it easier to fight than to negotiate. And far too often in these failed efforts women were marginalized, making up, by one estimate, just eight percent of all peace negotiators. And when you look around the world, as a number of us are privileged to do in the positions that we hold now, or that we have held in the past, you see how hard it is to make peace under any circumstance. But the exclusion of women, I argue, makes it even harder.

Because there is a great story about an effort to try to resolve aspects of the conflict in Darfur a few years ago. And the men had been arguing and arguing for days about authority over a particular riverbed. And finally, a woman heard about this and just made herself walk in and say, “But that river dried up. There is no water in that river.” Or think about the wonderful documentary, “Pray the Devil Back to Hell,” about the women in Liberia. But for them, who knows whether that conflict would have ended?

And so that is why, in December, finally, the United States, under President Obama, launched the first-ever U.S. national action plan on women, peace, and security. We worked very hard on this, and we did it jointly, between the State Department and the Defense Department. Because, from our perspective, it was essential that we have a comprehensive road map for accelerating and institutionalizing efforts across the United States Government to advance women’s participation in making and keeping peace.

And the national action plan represents a fundamentally different way for the United States to do business. It is really trying to lay out a new approach in our diplomatic, military, and development support to women in areas of conflict, and to ensure that their perspectives and that considerations of gender are always part of how the United States approaches peace processes, conflict prevention, the protection of civilians, humanitarian assistance.

Now, more than 30 countries, many of them represented here, have had similar national action plans developed. And we think the United Nations really deserves our support in making sure that we continue this progress. NATO itself has a robust effort, increasingly factoring women and their needs into key planning processes and training courses, and stationing experts throughout operational headquarters.

Now, I am well aware that whenever I talk about these issues, as opposed to who we are going to strike next and what kind of tough position we are going to take, it is often dismissed as soft or relegated to the margins of the real conversation. Well, we just completely reject that. And the evidence is so clear that rejecting it is the right decision. So if you look at what we did with the Department of State, Department of Defense, USAID, others across our government, it incorporates the lessons that our military has learned over, frankly, 10 years of war about the links between the security of women and the stability and peace of nations.

For example, the Department of State works closely with the Department of Defense on the Global Peace Operations Initiative, which has facilitated the training of more than 2,000 female peacekeepers worldwide, many from African countries, where persistent conflict is so devastating to women and children.

In Afghanistan we have tried to increase the role of women, no easy task. We sent our own teams of female soldiers, as did other NATO-ISAF countries, to curb violence against women, honor killings, female immolation, as well as pursue certain security functions such as inspections and personal examinations. And in 2010, 10 percent of the Afghan military academy’s class will be women. And by 2014, we expect to field 5,000 women Afghan national police officers. That is a tough job. And I want all of us to support that, because part of what we have to do as we try to test whether peace is possible in Afghanistan, is to make it very clear that peace will not come at the expense of women’s rights and roles. They have suffered too much for too long. (Applause.)

So, I would be eager to hear thoughts and perspectives. I look around this room and I see great colleagues, colleagues from the United States Senate — Susan Collins, who is here, I don’t know if we have anyone else from the — anybody else from the — oh, Loretta Sanchez, who is from the House, and then other colleagues of mine in government, colleagues from the EU, from NATO, from other parts of our work together. So I would be delighted. And, of course, I am always pleased to be with the President of Kosovo, who has been such a great representative for her country. (Applause.)

 

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Inaugural Meeting of Secretary Clinton’s International Council on Women’s Business Leadership

Media Note

Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
January 20, 2012

 


On Tuesday, January 24th, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will host the first meeting of the International Council on Women’s Business Leadership at the State Department in Washington, D.C. The meeting can be viewed via live webcast on the Internet at http://www.state.gov/e/eb/adcom/icwbl/.

The Council serves the United States government in an advisory capacity on major issues in international business and economic policy, including the effective integration of business interests and women’s economic empowerment into overall foreign policy; the role and limits of international economic institutions from a gender-specific perspective; and the Department of State’s role in advancing and promoting the role of women in a competitive global economy.

Secretary Clinton selected a distinguished, diverse, and international membership for the Council, representing a wide range of expertise and backgrounds, including leaders of American and foreign, public and private sector organizations. Secretary Clinton will serve as the Council’s Chair. The Council’s members are listed below; each will serve a two-year term.

Council Vice Chairs:

  • Cherie Blair, Founder, Cherie Blair Foundation for Women (United Kingdom)
  • Indra Nooyi, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, PepsiCo, Inc. (USA)

Council Members:

  • Tan Sri Zeti Akhtar Aziz, Governor, Bank Negara Malaysia (Malaysia)
  • Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Minister for Foreign Trade (UAE)
  • Beth A. Brooke, Global Vice Chair of Public Policy, Sustainability, and Stakeholder Engagement, Ernst & Young (USA)
  • Wanda Engel, Executive President, Unibanco Institute (Brazil)
  • Susan Fleishman, Executive VP for Corporate Communications, Warner Brothers (USA)
  • M. Audrey Hinchcliffe, Founder and Principal Consultant of Caribbean Health Management (Jamaica)
  • Catherine L. Hughes, Chairperson of the Board and Secretary, Radio One (USA)
  • Sri Mulyani Indrawati, Managing Director, The World Bank (Indonesia)
  • Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor and Assistant to the President for Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs, The White House (USA)
  • Wendy Luhabe, Founder/Chairman, Women Private Equity Funds (South Africa)
  • Ory Okolloh, Policy Manager for Africa, Google (Kenya)
  • Maud E. Olofsson, former MP and former Deputy Prime Minister of Sweden and Minister for Enterprise and Energy (Sweden)
  • Judith Rodin, President, Rockefeller Foundation (USA)
  • Meera H. Sanyal, Chairperson and Country Executive, ABN AMRO / RBS Bank India (India)
  • Elizabeth H. Shuler, Secretary-Treasurer, AFL-CIO (USA)
  • Ofra Strauss, Chairwoman of the Board, Strauss Group (Israel)
  • Sally Susman, Executive VP for Policy, External Affairs, and Communications, Pfizer (USA)
  • Zhang Xin, CEO, SOHO China (China)

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Remarks on Women’s Political Participation at UN Women Event

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
United Nations
New York City
September 19, 2011

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much, Katie, and indeed it is a pleasure for me to be here with so many friends and colleagues and to be sitting on a panel between my great friend Michelle Bachelet, a former president, and a woman I admire so much, Dilma Rousseff, a current president, in addition to a prime minister and a high representative and a deputy UN secretary general, and to see out in this audience women who are heads of state and heads of government as well as ministers, and other excellencies both male and female who have come here today on behalf of the important issue of women’s political participation. And I particularly thank the prime minister and the president for their remarks and their example, because clearly, as someone who tried to be a president, it is very encouraging to see those who actually end up as a president. (Applause.)

The work that brings us together today is, I think, one of the great pieces of unfinished business in the 21st century. If you look back historically – and it’s always somewhat suspect to do this – but certainly the 19th century, which was a great movement against slavery and the enshrinement of the rights of people, followed by the 20th century with a great struggle against totalitarianism in favor of freedom and democracy; well, here we are in the 21st century, and if we want a safe, secure, prosperous, peaceful future, women must be equal partners and free to realize their own God-given potential.

And what that means is that it’s not only enough for those of us gathered here today to continue the work that many of us are committed to, but it’s also important that we reach out to the new emerging democracies and societies, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa, where women have marched and demonstrated, blogged, and put their lives on the line for a future that includes them, their families, their communities, and their countries.

In Libya, women hid fighters, ran guns, contacted journalists, and even fought for freedom. One woman was so inspired she said, “Maybe I can be the new president or the mayor,” – a thought that had never crossed her mind anytime before.

And in many cases, progress is being made. I want to commend Tunisia. I don’t know – is there a representative from Tunisia? Minister. Thank you, Minister. Because in April, the commission responsible for drafting Tunisia’s new electoral code ruled that there must be full gender parity on election candidate lists from the top down. I think we should give Tunisia a round of applause. (Applause.)

Many of us are working closely with our friends in Egypt to ensure that women who played a decisive role in carrying out Egypt’s revolution are not left out of the democratic transformation, because, in effect then, it will not be a true democracy. Women have to be part of the future. And it’s imperative that as constitutions are created, as political parties are organized, as elections are waged and won, nobody can claim a democratic future if half the population is marginalized or even prevented from participating.

We are in an age of participation. Social networking and connective technology has made that a fact. And every party in any democracy should recognize the rights of women and make room for women to play roles in the political process. As the Arab Awakening enters a new chapter, we all have a stake in ensuring that the potential of all citizens – men and women, boys and girls – have a chance to be realized.

That’s why the United States is supporting efforts like the Charter of Egyptian Women. Nearly 300,000 women and men and 500 NGOs signed on to a set of demands for the political, social, and economic rights of the women of Egypt. And we will support Egyptian women in their efforts to serve as community leaders, as business owners, as citizens, as elected officials.

We have tried to put women’s lives and women’s progress at the center of our foreign policy, in everything from our diplomatic efforts to our investments in developing countries. And we will work through multilateral forums—including UN Women under Michelle’s great leadership—to to integrate women’s issues throughout the work of the United Nations.

This Participation Age is a reality, and it will not realize its full potential if women are not viewed legitimately as participants. Now, Persad, when your uncle said, “No, that young girl shouldn’t go to school,” and you said, “Thank goodness for your mother,” that’s a very familiar story. So parents need to recognize the values of their girls, invest in their futures, their education. And then families, communities, societies, need to do the same.

You cannot have the kind of broad-based economic growth that is so necessary in our world’s economy today if women are not able to play their economic roles outside the home as well as inside the home. When we liberate the economic potential of women, we elevate the economic performance of communities, nations, and the world.

And I think as we meet on political participation and as we sign the declaration that I was very pleased to sign before coming in, we recognize that these values that what led to President Rousseff becoming a president, the hard years, the sacrifice, what led to Persad becoming a prime minister, or Cathy Ashton now the first high representative of the European Union, or Michelle Bachelet becoming first the president of her country and then the head of an organization, that we mean to make clear women are involved in every level of the international community.

There are stories like that that are percolating everywhere in the world, and we have to do all we can to value the girl child, to provide support for families so that they recognize and then fulfill the promise of that young girl, and then make sure that the doors are open. And I think these values do not belong to any one culture or any one country; they are universal. One of my predecessors as a first lady of my country was Eleanor Roosevelt, and she was one of the people from around the world who met after World War II to decide on what were universal rights. They came from everywhere.

And the Declaration of Universal Rights that they wrote should still be our guide. And it is not out of fashion, it has not been overtaken by events, it cannot be stopped by ideology or extremism of any kind. And the United Nations must stand firmly behind the rights of all – the rights of women, the rights of men, but in particular for women to sit at every table where decisions are made.

So it’s a great pleasure to be part of this important event. Thank you. (Applause.)

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Joint Declaration: On Advancing Women’s Political Participation

Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
September 19, 2011

 


Following is a joint declaration issued at the conclusion of the September 19, 2011 United Nations Women event on Women’s Political Participation.

BEGIN TEXT:

We, the undersigned Heads of State and Government, Foreign Ministers, and High Representatives, affirm that women’s political participation is fundamental to democracy and essential to the achievement of sustainable development and peace.

We reaffirm the human right of women to take part in the Governments of their countries, directly or through freely chosen representatives, on an equal basis with men, and that all States should take affirmative steps to respect and promote women’s equal right to participate in all areas and at all levels of political life.

We stress the critical importance of women’s political participation in all contexts, including in times of peace, conflict and in all stages of political transition.

We recognize the essential contributions women around the world continue to make to the achievement and maintenance of international peace and security and to the full realization of human rights; to the promotion of sustainable development; and to the eradication of poverty, hunger, and disease. Even so, we are concerned that women in every part of the world continue to be largely marginalized from decision-making, often as a result of discriminatory laws, practices, and attitudes, and due to poverty disproportionately affecting women.

We reaffirm our commitment to the equal rights and inherent human dignity of women enshrined in the United Nations Charter, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and other relevant international human rights instruments. We call upon all States to ratify and fulfill their obligations under the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and to implement fully Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000) on Women and Peace and Security and other relevant UN resolutions.

We call upon all States, including those emerging from conflict or undergoing political transitions, to eliminate all discriminatory barriers faced by women, particularly marginalized women, and we encourage all States to take proactive measures to address the factors preventing women from participating in politics such as violence, poverty, lack of access to quality education and health care, the double burden of paid and unpaid work, and to actively promote women’s political participation including through affirmative measures, as appropriate.

We reaffirm and express full support for the important role of the United Nations system in achieving gender equality and the empowerment of women and we welcome UN Women and its mandate in this regard.

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