Respect for women is an imperative of U.S. foreign policy and an integral part of the U.S. National Security Strategy. As President George W. Bush said in his January 2002 State of the Union Address: “America will always stand firm for the non-negotiable demands of human dignity: the rule of law; limits on the power of the state; respect for women; private property; free speech; equal justice; and religious tolerance.”
Secretary of State Colin Powell has said, “Women’s issues affect not only women; they have profound implications for all humankind. ” Today, as we celebrate International Women’s Day, we reaffirm our dedication to working towards a world in which women have full opportunity to achieve political, economic and social equality in societies where human rights and fundamental freedoms are ensured. We welcome the progress that women are making in these areas and we are proud of the role the United States has in supporting their accomplishments.
Ambassador Ellen Sauerbrey
U.S. Representative to the Commission on the Status of Women
U.S. POLICY AND PRIORITIES,
All people have the best chance to thrive in societies where fundamental freedoms, human rights, and property rights are ensured. America’s resolve to help build a world of hope and opportunity is ever stronger.The U.S. seeks to improve the lives of women around the world by working to:o Increase women’s economic opportunity o Broaden women’s political participationWhen women participate in the economic and political life of their country, they can take charge of their lives and improve the situation not only for themselves, but for their children, families and society at large.The Department of State’s Office of the Senior Coordinator for International Women’s Issues serves, in Secretary Powell’s words, as the “focal point within the Bush Administration for the development and implementation of our pro-women foreign policy agenda.” (www.state.gov/g/wi)
United States Global Activities on Behalf of Women
Violence Against Women
The United States government is committed to preventing violence against women and to providing assistance to other countries as they work toward the same goal.
The Violence Against Women Acts of 1994 and 2000 (VAWA) provide legal protection and social services for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking.The U.S. sponsors a National Domestic Violence Hot Line (24-hour, toll-free) providing crisis assistance and local shelter referrals.The U.S. government provides grants for emergency shelters, counseling, and legal assistance. In addition, NGOs and faith-based groups provide shelters and counseling.The U.S. Department of State provides international funding and training for law enforcement, government officials, judges, prosecutors, medical personnel, crisis center personnel, and social workers.The United States Government has supported programs to combat domestic violence against women in Ghana, India, Russia, Zimbabwe, Cambodia, Indonesia, Mongolia, the Philippines and the Soloman Islands.
Trafficking in Persons
This year alone, the United States Government supported nearly a hundred programs worth over $50 million worldwide to combat trafficking in persons. and focused on more than 40 countries seeking to end trafficking.
President George W. Bush has signed a National Security Presidential Directive to advance the United States government’s fight against trafficking in persons, a modern day form of slavery.In February 2003, the State Department Office to Combat Trafficking in Persons in partnership with the NGO War Against Trafficking Alliance sponsored an international conference to share best practices in combating this vile trade.The U.S. Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 provides tools to combat trafficking both worldwide and domestically. The United States urges countries to prohibit trafficking and prescribe punishment stringent enough to deter traffickers; vigorously investigate and prosecute traffickers; support public awareness campaigns; promote social and economic development for at-risk individuals; partner with non-governmental organizations, international organizations and foreign governments to train police; provide services and shelter to victims; and address corruption and complicity by some police and government officials.The Bush Administration encourages countries to promote equal access to education and employment for women and girls to reduce their vulnerability to traffickers.USAID carries out direct anti-trafficking activities in over 30 countries in Central and southeast Europe, Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean.The U.S. State Department Office to Combat and Monitor Trafficking in Persons is responsible for coordinating anti-trafficking efforts and publishes an annual Trafficking in Persons report that tracks the progress of countries in fighting trafficking.
Female Genital Mutilation
U.S. strategy to end FGM rests on four pillars: support education of women and girls; empowerment of women; efforts to draft laws and enforce laws against FGM; and data collection, documentation, and evaluation of programs. The U.S. works through NGOs by providing funding and/or technical assistance, including helping to educate about FGM’s harmful health effects.
United States Embassies in several countries (Chad, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Ghana, Senegal, Somalia and Togo) have provided funding to local NGOs and local entities to fight female genital mutilation.In 1996 the United States passed a federal law making FGM on a person under 18 a federal crime in the United States.
Information, Communication and Media Technology
The United States government is committed to empowering women to fully benefit from information technology and, equally, to protecting women from aspects of the internet that contribute to the abuse, exploitation, and demeaning of women, such as pornography and on-line trafficking in persons.
The Bush Administration launched www.women-21.gov, to empower women business owners and entrepreneurs.The United States provides more than $130 million in small loan and technical assistance programs three quarters of it given to women.The United States Small Business Administration’s Online Business Center (www.onlinewbc.gov), providing business curriculum, online individual counseling, and worldwide networking, receives over a million hits monthly from users in 100 countries.The Small Business Administration’s Business classroom online offers self-paced learning modules in multiple languages.
The United States Government is demonstrating deep concern about the worldwide HIV/AIDS pandemic, particularly its effect on women and children.
President Bush’s “Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief” is a five-year, $15 billion initiative.Fourteen countries in Africa and the Caribbean countries with 70% of the AIDS infected persons will be targeted.President Bush’s “Emergency Plan” includes $500 million International Mother to Child Transmission (MTCT) Initiative aims to prevent transmission of HIV from mothers to their newborns.Globally in the past year, the United States has spent $850 million on maternal and child health care and family planning.
Educational Assistance and Training
The United States government is committed to empowering women through education and training that enable women to realize their human potential and to assume positions of leadership.
The United States has funded exchange programs for West Africans that give women NGO leaders’ training.A 30-month USAID venture is working to reduce trade barriers faced by women in seven West African countries.USAID is giving priority to a range of pro-women economic initiatives, including micro-enterprises, economic reform, and increasing women’s access to information technology in the developing world.The U.S.-Afghan Women’s Council brought women from Afghan ministries to the United States to obtain education and leadership skills and to receive computer training. The Council has pledged $1 million in grants to support educational programs at these Women’s Resource Centers.Peace Corps volunteers in 36 countries promote literacy and education for girls and women through formal classes, girls’ clubs and camps, libraries and resource centers, computer training and micro-enterprise projects.The Educational and Cultural Affairs Bureau in the Department of State supports educational exchange and training programs in all regions of the world.The Department of Education is developing distance-learning programs in the Asia-Pacific region for women and girls.
Women’s Political Participation
The Bush Administration has demonstrated its advocacy of women through key political appointments and other initiatives.
The United States brought a delegation of 55 Arab women political leaders to observe mid-term elections in November, 2002.In countries throughout the world, U.S.-funded initiatives train women to run for office and lead nongovernmental organizations.