News / USA

Clinton: US to Push for Women’s Rights in New Mideast Democracies

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama (L) and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (R) honor Kyrgyzstan President Roza Otunbayeva during the International Women of Courage Awards Ceremony at the State Department, March 8, 2011
U.S. first lady Michelle Obama (L) and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (R) honor Kyrgyzstan President Roza Otunbayeva during the International Women of Courage Awards Ceremony at the State Department, March 8, 2011

Multimedia

Audio

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Tuesday that the United States will "stand firm" for women’s empowerment as new democracies take shape in the Middle East.   Clinton spoke at a State Department event honoring women from 10 countries for advocacy on women’s issues, including Kyrgyz President Roza Otunbayeva.

Clinton used the event, part of the U.S. observance of International Women’s Day, to serve notice that the Obama administration will make women’s empowerment a policy priority in its dealings with emerging democracies in the Middle East.

"The women in Egypt and Tunisia and other nations have just as much right as the men to remake their governments, to make them responsive, accountable, transparent," she said.  "The United States will stand firmly for the proposition that women must be included in whatever process goes forward."

Clinton said no government can succeed if it excludes half of its people - its women - from important decisions.

The secretary of state, joined by first lady Michelle Obama, presided at the fifth annual Women of Courage awards ceremony, honoring activists around the world for advocating for women’s rights and empowerment.

This year, the 10 recipients include the first female head of state so honored, Kyrgyz Republic President Roza Otunbayeva, who Clinton said steered her country to democracy last year after the collapse of an autocratic regime.

"She decided early on she would help to set up a new government, have a new constitution," she said.  "And when the time came, after the elections were finished, she would turn over powers to the new prime minister and that government.  In so doing, she has offered an invaluable lesson to fledging democracies everywhere."

In an acceptance speech on behalf of all of the honorees, President Otunbayeva said the new Kyrgyz democracy - the first in the region - might appear chaotic, but that the apparent disarray is far more preferable to the order enforced by a dictator.

"Yes, when you are a dictatorship, it is very easy to create the artificial picture of stability and harmony," she said. "When you have a democracy, you must learn to accept many voices, some of them very critical, some even insulting. To  the outsiders,  it looks like you are about to collapse every minute."

Other awardees at the event included Afghan regional prosecutor Maria Bashir, journalist Henriette Ekwe Ebongo of Cameroon, Chinese lawyer Jianmei Guo, Hungarian parliamentarian Agnes Osztokyan, Jordanian legal advocate Eva Abu Halaweh, Pakistani rural women’s activist Ghulam Sughra and Mexican Deputy Attorney General Marisela Morales.

Belarusian youth organizer Nasta Palazhanka and Cuban Internet activist Yoani Sanchez were barred by their countries from attending.

But first lady Michelle Obama said the Cuban government has been powerless to prevent the dissemination of Sanchez’s online essays, and that this kind of courage is the common thread that connects all of the honorees.

"Each time these women speak up, they inspire others to use their own voices," she said.  "Their fearlessness inspires other to overcome their own fears.  And so soon, citizen networks emerge, eager for change.  Soon it’s possible to rewrite laws, to topple regimes, to transform peoples’ lives."

Obama said some of the woman activists might not see the fruits of their labors during their lifetimes, but that they carry on with the knowledge that they are paving the way for a better life for their daughters and their sons.

2011 International Women of Courage Awards Ceremony:

You May Like

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Judge Declares Washington DC Ban on Public Handguns Unconstitutional

Ruling overturns capital city's prohibition on carrying guns in pubic More

Pricey Hepatitis C Drug Draws Criticism

Activists are using the International AIDS Conference to criticize drug companies for charging high prices for life-saving therapies More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid