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

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age 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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs