Sunday, March 21, 2010

Afghan and Haitian Women Leaders Say Investing in Women Crucial to Rebuilding their Nations

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Afghan and Haitian Women Leaders Say Investing in Women Crucial to Rebuilding their Nations PDF Print E-mail
Urge U.S. Government to Put Women at the Center of Foreign Policy. Women Thrive Worldwide and UNIFEM Co-Host Second Annual International Women’s Day Breakfast Event on Capitol Hill.
Press Release
March 4, 2010

Contact: Anu Palan at apalan@womenthrive.org  202 884 8399 or 240 565 4078

Afghan and Haitian Women Leaders Say Investing in Women Crucial to Rebuilding their Nations: Urge U.S. Government to Put Women at the Center of Foreign Policy Women Thrive Worldwide and UNIFEM Co-Host Second Annual International Women’s Day Breakfast Event on Capitol Hill

Washington, DC – Women are key to rebuilding Afghanistan and Haiti and putting both nations on the path to secure and sustainable development, according to two prominent women leaders from those nations.  Suraya Pakzad, Director of Voice of Women in Herat, Afghanistan who was named by TIME magazine as one of the world’s 100 Most Influential People in 2009, and Kathy Mangones, Haiti country program director for UNIFEM, the UN Women’s Fund, will issue a call on Capitol Hill for policymakers to put women front and center in two of the most high-profile U.S. and international assistance efforts underway in the developing world.

They will be joined by Maria Otero, Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs at the State Department, and Congressional leaders including Senator Mary Landrieu(D-LA) at the second Annual International Women’s Day Breakfast on Capitol Hill entitled Lessons from the Frontlines: Afghanistan, Haiti and the Path to a More Secure World.  The event, hosted by Women Thrive Worldwide and the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) will be held as women around the world mark the fifteenth anniversary of the 1995 International Women’s Conference in Beijing, at which 189 nations pledged action towards greater equality and opportunity for women and where then-First Lady and current Secretary of State Hillary Clinton  famously said “human rights are women's rights, and women's rights are human rights.”

“Whether in Afghanistan and Haiti or elsewhere in the world, women are the best investment to build stronger families and communities and more stable economies,” said Ritu Sharma, Co-Founder and President of Women Thrive Worldwide  “But they are still the majority of the world’s poor.  As the U.S. reforms its foreign assistance programs, it is crucial that gender be a central pillar of our revamped foreign policy and assistance efforts.“

“This is a historic time. It is the 15th anniversary of the Beijing Platform for Action. We cannot continue to exclude one-half the population and still meet the challenge to build a more secure world,” said Inés Alberdi, Executive Director, UNIFEM. “We will not have security without human security and we will not have human security without sufficient—even equal—numbers of women at each and every decision making table.”

Recently, both the Obama Administration and Congress have taken strong steps toward toward reforming U.S. foreign assistance, with the launch of the Presidential Study Directive (PSD) on global development, and the State Department’s first-ever Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR).  Both these processes provide an opportunity for the U.S. to strengthen its long-term commitment and capacity for integrating gender into its foreign policy and making assistance more effective.

According to a report by Women Thrive Worldwide, the Administration’s 2010 International Affairs Budget request, which will be debated in Congress soon, “gives unprecedented attention to the importance of women to U.S. foreign affairs.”  The past year has also seen the creation of an Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues position at the State Department and a Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee covering women’s issues.

Congress has also taken important steps towards reforming U.S. foreign assistance. Chairman Berman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee has declared his intent to re-write the Foreign Assistance Act and introduced legislation earlier this Congress calling on the Obama Administration to develop a National Strategy for Global Development.Senators Kerry and Lugar have also introduced legislation that would strengthen accountability for U.S. government spending on foreign assistance.

Background on Women Thrive Worldwide
Women Thrive Worldwide is the leading non-profit organization shaping U.S. policy to help women in developing countries lift themselves out of poverty.  Over the past twelve years, Women Thrive has brought together a diverse coalition of over 50 organizations and 40,000 individuals united in the belief that women are the key to ending global poverty. For more information visit: www.WomenThrive.org

Background on UNIFEM
UNIFEM is the women's fund at the United Nations, dedicated to advancing women’s rights and achieving gender equality. Established in 1976, UNIFEM has touched the lives of women and girls around the world by focusing its activities on one overarching goal: supporting the implementation at the national level of existing international commitments to advance gender equality. For more information visit www.UNIFEM.org

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