U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is urging the world's women to continue building on recent advancements, saying lasting progress is not possible if women and girls are denied their rights. Secretary Clinton spoke Friday on the final day of the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women, which has been reviewing progress made since the Beijing Declaration promoting gender equality was signed 15 years ago.
Secretary Clinton praised women around the world for the economic, political and social gains they have made since she addressed the Beijing Conference in 1995 as U.S. First Lady. But she said that for millions of women, opportunities still remain beyond reach. "Women are still the majority of the world's poor, the uneducated, the unhealthy, the unfed. In too many places, women are treated not as full and equal human beings with their own rights and aspirations, but as lesser creatures undeserving of the treatment and respect accorded to their husbands, their fathers and their sons," she said.
She said when women are free to vote and run for public office, governments are more effective and accountable; when they work and start small businesses, economies thrive; when education and health care are available to them, their families and communities prosper; and when women have equal rights, nations are more stable, peaceful and secure. "We must declare with one voice that women's progress is human progress and human progress is women's progress, once and for all," she said.
Clinton told a packed audience of both women and men that the United States sees the oppression of women as a threat to its national security. "President Obama and I believe that the subjugation of women is threat to the national security of the United States. It is also a threat to the common security of our world. Because the suffering and denial of the rights of women and the instability of nations go hand-in-hand," she said.
She said the United States is incorporating initiatives targeted to helping women into its foreign policy to help reduce that threat.
Clinton spoke on the final day of the Commission on the Status of Women Conference, at which the U.S. co-sponsored a resolution on eliminating maternal mortality. Several other resolutions were adopted during the session, focused on empowering women economically, ending harmful traditional practices such as female circumcision, and welcoming the U.N.'s intention of establishing an agency dedicated to women's issues and advancing gender equality.