During Stop In Papua New Guinea, Secretary Clinton Promotes Women’s Rights

As part of Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s two-week Asia-Pacific tour, Clinton stopped in Papua New Guinea (PNG) on Wednesday to “promot[e] human rights and women’s empowerment in a South Pacific nation suffering from an epidemic of rape and police brutality,” the Associated Press reports (Lee, 11/3).

“No country in the 21st century can advance if half the population is left behind,” Clinton told an audience during a visit to the country’s parliament, Agence France-Presse reports. “Giving women access to education, health services, economic opportunities, and the structures of power is critical for alleviating poverty and disease in every part of the world,” Clinton said.

According to the news service, “Clinton said the United States, PNG government and World Bank would bring together senior officials and business leaders from across the Pacific ‘to expand opportunities for women.'” Clinton highlighted the State Department’s commitment to work with local groups in Papua New Guinea to help women participate in the 2012 elections and how the U.S. has partnered with companies such as “Exxon Mobil and local groups on a mentoring programme ‘aimed at ending the culture of violence against women and girls in Papua New Guinea,'” AFP writes.

“Violence against women is rife in the underdeveloped nation where most people live in remote villages, with studies showing some two-thirds of adult women experience domestic violence, Amnesty campaigner Hannah Harborow said,” according to the news service (Carmichael, 11/3).

“An Australian AusAID report ranks PNG as 123 out of 136 nations for violence against women,” Reuters reports. “The group said the high rate of sexual violence against women in PNG added to the risk of contracting HIV, which was now an epidemic spreading across the general population,” according to the news service (Mohammed, 11/3).

Secretary Clinton was scheduled to meet with Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Michael Somare Wednesday to discuss additional issues facing the Pacific island, including “environmental concerns … and governance in the resource-wealthy yet economically poor nation,” VOA News writes. Clinton will conclude her tour with stops in New Zealand, Australia and American Samoa, the news service reports (Bayron, 11/2).

According to a State Department press release, Clinton also emphasized that the U.S. and PNG “shared” an interest in food security (11/3).

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