State's Hughes Says Nations Need To Empower Women

By Carolee Walker
Washington File Staff Writer

Washington – The world must continue to assist women around the world who have “recently found their voices to use them effectively and powerfully for change,” the State Department’s Karen Hughes, the under secretary for public diplomacy and public affairs, told the International Women’s Forum for Economy and Society.

“I have come to realize it is increasingly women who are arbiters of peace and reconciliation,” she said. “[W]omen – and what they teach their children – can be a powerful prescription for peace,” Hughes said in Deauville, France, October 5.

As women become leaders of their countries, they are increasingly vocal advocates for education and health, according to Hughes, and as educated women engage in the economic development of their countries, they are increasingly agents of political and economic change.

For example, Michelle Bachelet, president of Chile and “a victim of hate,” Hughes said, has dedicated her life “to turning that hate into understanding.” In Liberia, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has begun “the task of healing that troubled country,” Hughes added, and in Rwanda, women now hold a large block of seats in the Parliament and make up 40 percent of the Cabinet.

“All the statistics show [that] when you educate and empower women, you improve almost every other aspect of a society,” Hughes said. (See related article.)

For more information on U.S. efforts to empower women, see Women in the Global Community and Partnerships for a Better Life.

A transcript of Hughes’ remarks is available on the State Department Web site.