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US Announces New Funding for International Women's Programs

US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton addresses a UN Security Council meeting on women; Austria's Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger is on the right, 26 October 2010
US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton addresses a UN Security Council meeting on women; Austria's Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger is on the right, 26 October 2010
Margaret Besheer

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has announced that the United States will allocate nearly $44 million to initiatives to empower women worldwide. She spoke at a special session of the U.N. Security Council marking the 10th anniversary of a milestone resolution on women. Clinton said the international community cannot ignore half of the world's population when it comes to matters of peace and security.

Secretary Clinton said the largest portion of the funding - $17 million - will go to support civil society groups that focus on women in Afghanistan.

"The women in Afghanistan are rightly worried that in the very legitimate search for peace, their rights will be sacrificed. And I have personally stated, and I state again here in the Security Council, none of us can permit that to happen. No peace that sacrifices women's rights is a peace we can afford to support."

Clinton said an additional $14 million will be allocated to non-governmental organizations that work to make clean water available in conflict zones because, she said, in these areas, when women and girls look for water, they are at higher risk of attack.

Nearly $2 million will go toward United Nations activities, including funding for the office of Margot Wallstrom, the new envoy on Sexual Violence in Conflict.  The rest of the money will finance expanded literacy, job training and maternal health services for refugee women and girls.

Secretary Clinton's announcement about the new funding came during a special session of the Security Council, marking the 10th anniversary of U.N. Resolution 1325. The resolution reaffirms the role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts, peace negotiations, peace building, peacekeeping and post-conflict reconstruction. It also calls for special measures to protect women and girls from rape and other forms of sexual abuse, particularly in conflict zones.

Speaking about those goals, Clinton said the only way to build sustainable peace is to draw on the contributions of men and women.

"Including women in the work of peace advances our national security interests, promotes political stability, economic growth and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. Just as in the economic sphere, we cannot exclude the talents of half the population, neither when it comes to matters of life and death can we afford to ignore, marginalize and dismiss the very direct contributions women can and have made," said Clinton.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who is traveling in Asia, addressed the meeting in a videotaped message. He urged the Security Council to endorse a set of indicators that will help identify progress and provide the council with data for effective monitoring and accountability. He also said Resolution 1325 will never be successfully implemented until sexual violence in conflict is ended.

"We must hold those responsible to account, whether the crimes are committed by state or non-state parties. I call on the council to take appropriate steps to end impunity," said the U.N chief.

More than 80 countries asked to address the council meeting.

The council is expected to adopt a statement at the end of the session reaffirming its commitment to the full implementation of Resolution 1325.

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