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Women's empowerment key to building democracies, Rice says

Secretary of State marks International Women's Day

Posted: March 7, 2005 Related items:       Working for Women, Worldwide (Publication)            
Bush declares March 2005 Women's History Month  
 

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said today the United States will continue to support women as they work to build peaceful, prosperous and democratic societies around the world.

In a statement released for the March 8 commemoration of International Women’s Day, Rice said women “are integral to the process of building responsible governments and democratic institutions.”

“Women's participation and empowerment at all levels of society will be key to moving these new democracies forward,” she said.

Rice noted the important role that Iraqi and Afghan women are playing in the development of civil society, especially after recent successful elections. “The women of Iraq and Afghanistan are indeed finding their own voices,” she said. “They are being heard throughout the world.”

Following is Rice’s statement on International Women’s Day:

(begin text)

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesman
March 7, 2005

STATEMENT BY SECRETARY OF STATE CONDOLEEZZA RICE

International Women's Day, March 8, 2005

As the world celebrates International Women's Day tomorrow, I will have the honor of welcoming to Washington women leaders from Afghanistan and Iraq. These women represent the millions of others back in their homelands who have inspired the international community with their courage, determination, and faith in the force of freedom.

One of the women who will be with us, Nermin Othman, Iraq's Minister of Women's Affairs, told us last year, "The terrorists will not succeed this time. We are determined to win." Minister Othman was exactly right. Women turned out in force to vote in the January elections, and will represent over 30 percent of the new National Assembly.

We believe that democracy must be homegrown and that elections are a critical step toward it. We recognize that despite the success of the recent elections, the people of Afghanistan and Iraq face many challenges ahead. Freedom, the protection of fundamental human rights, economic opportunity and prosperity, equality and the rule of law - these are all elements of the democratic process. Women are integral to the process of building responsible governments and democratic institutions. Women's participation and empowerment at all levels of society will be key to moving these new democracies forward.

As partners in the pursuit of freedom, the United States will continue to support these women as they move toward building peaceful, prosperous and democratic societies. President Bush has said, "Our goal...is to help others find their own voice, attain their own freedom and make their own way." The women of Iraq and Afghanistan are indeed finding their own voices, and they are being heard throughout the world.

(end text)

 

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