Clinton Delivers Speech At U.N. Women’s Meeting As Conference Closes

“Calling the subjugation of women a threat to American security, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary [Rodham] Clinton made a vibrant plea to give equal rights to women around the world,” during a speech a the U.N. on Friday, Agence France-Presse reports. Clinton’s remarks came on the final day of a two-week international women’s conference that examined the progress made in women’s rights since the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.

“The status of the world’s women is not only a matter of justice. It is also a political, economic, and social imperative,” Clinton said, noting “that 15 years after Beijing, it was time to declare ‘with one voice that women’s progress is human progress and human progress is women’s progress, once and for all,'” according to the news service (Aziakou, 3/13).

Christian Science Monitor: “The past 15 years, Clinton said in her speech, have included some remarkable advances for women globally – including heightened attention to women’s health and economic issues, particularly in developing countries. Women’s participation in their country’s political life and their election to national parliaments have also increased, she said” (LaFranchi, 3/12).

But, for millions of women and girls, such “opportunity remains out of reach,” Clinton said, the Washington Post reports. “Women are still the majority of the world’s poor, the uneducated, the unhealthy, the unfed,” Clinton said, while pointing to the U.S. commitment to reducing maternal and child mortality globally as part of President Barack Obama’s Global Health Initiative. “She also cited Friday’s adoption of a U.S.-sponsored U.N. resolution calling for greater action to slash maternal mortality rates,” the newspaper writes.

Also during the speech, “Clinton praised the United Nations for creating the position of special representative for sexual violence in conflict, to which the Swedish politician Margot Wallstrom was appointed last month,” according to the Washington Post (Lynch, 3/12).

Additional resolutions adopted during the women’s conference include efforts to empower women economically, end female genital mutilation and promote the U.N.’s establishment of an agency focused on advancing gender equality, VOA News reports (Besheer, 3/12).

“As the United Nations strives to better support the world’s women, it would benefit from having more women in more of its leadership positions,” Clinton said during her speech, in which she voiced her support for the U.N. agency centered on women’s issues, Reuters reports (Davies, 3/12).

The Associated Press examines the issue of abortion at the conference: “Much of the 2005 meeting to take stock of what countries had done to implement the landmark platform of action adopted at the 1995 U.N. women’s conference in Beijing was consumed by the Bush administration’s demand that the final declaration make clear that women are not guaranteed a right to abortion. By contrast, abortion was a non-issue during the two-week session that concluded Friday with a rousing speech by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who had electrified the 1995 Beijing conference when she was first lady.”

Clinton’s focus this year, writes the news service, “was on galvanizing fresh momentum to promote equal opportunities for women in business and education, to end discrimination under law and in practical reality, and to stop the ‘global pandemic’ of violent attacks on women. She made a single reference to the U.S. increasing support for family planning as part of its Global Health Initiative, which also aims to reduce maternal and child deaths and HIV infections.”

The article adds details on the Bush Administration’s stance on abortion at the 2005 conference and the history of how the conference has approached abortion. The piece also includes comments by several women’s rights experts (Lederer, 3/12).

The U.S. State Department also features transcripts from Clinton’s interviews with CNN’s Jill Dougherty and NBC’s Andrea Mitchell, in which she discusses women’s rights (3/12).

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