Sat | Dec 3, 2022

World reflects on women

Published:Monday | March 8, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Today the world observes International Women's Day, and, in the United States, Women's History Month.

And while women have made great strides in many areas in which they were once marginalised, there is still much work to be done in some areas, including education, health and gender-based violence.

United States Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has vowed to make women's issues a centrepiece of her term as secretary. During her confirmation hearing, she spoke of her concern with the plight of women and girls, who make up the majority of the uneducated and unhealthy in the world.

"If half of the world's population remains vulnerable to economic, political, legal and social marginalisation, our hope of advancing democracy and prosperity will remain in serious jeopardy," she said. "We still have a long way to go, and the United States must remain an unambiguous and unequivocal voice in support of women's rights in every country, every region, on every continent."

Gender-based violence

Clinton's focus on women's issues was underlined during her visit to Africa last year, where violence against women in conflict areas is a problem. There, she gave support to victims of gender-based violence and announced aid programmes to help them. Later, in hailing a United Nations Security Council resolution, Clinton emphasised that violence against women should not be viewed as an unfortunate characteristic of culture, but as a criminal offence.

Clinton will attend several events marking International Women's Day.

Women of Courage Awards

On March 10, she will host the annual International Women of Courage Awards at the Department of State in Washington. Established in March 2007 by then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the award recognises women around the world who have shown exceptional courage and leadership in advocating human rights. This is the only award within the Department of State that pays tribute to outstanding women leaders worldwide.

On that same day, she will also present the Global Trailblazer Award to Melinda Gates of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation at the ninth annual Vital Voices Global Leadership Awards celebration at the Kennedy Center in Washington. Vital Voices is an international, non-profit, non-governmental organisation that promotes the participation of women in leadership roles in the political processes of their countries. Clinton helped found the Vital Voices Global Partnership in 1997 following the Fourth World Conference on Women, held in Beijing, China.