Women essential to build bridges with Muslim world: Hillary

Women are essential to the effort of the Obama administration to improve its relationship with the Muslim world, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said.

Updated: Apr 29, 2010, 09:27 AM IST

Washington: Women are essential to the effort of the Obama administration to improve its relationship with the Muslim world, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said.

"President (Barack) Obama is committed to promoting entrepreneurship to help seed conditions for broader and deeper economic progress.”

“And this week`s summit has focused on our efforts in Muslim majority countries. I know and you know that women are essential to this effort," Hillary said in her remarks on Breakfast with Women Entrepreneurs Attending Presidential Summit on Entrepreneurship.

"What we`re doing is trying to pry open those doors of opportunity for more people to walk through -- more people in Muslim majority countries and more women, specifically.”

“Because the fact is that women still have a harder time accessing loans and equity capital investments," Hillary said yesterday.

"Women are still saddled with unfair and untrue assumptions that they are less capable of starting and running businesses. And these obstacles exist in the United States and they exist in every country in the world," she said.

Asserting that the Obama administration is determined to change that, Hillary said making women a focus of America`s foreign policy agenda comes naturally to her, but it`s not only the right thing to do, it is also the smart thing as well.

"We cannot expect countries to increase their economic standing in a sustainable way. We cannot expect there to be greater foundations built for security, democracy, opportunity, unless women are at the table," she said.

"The women in this room are proof -- if anyone still needed proof -- that women are doers and achievers and thinkers and innovators, leaders and problem-solvers. And we need each and every one of you to lend your entrepreneurial skill and energy to meeting the global challenges of this new century," said the Secretary of State.

Hillary announced few more initiatives for the women of the Muslim world.

"I`m delighted to announce the creation of the Secretary`s Innovation Award for the Empowerment of Women and Girls. Through this effort, we hope to build on pioneering approaches to empowering women politically, economically, and socially around the world," she said. And there are so many ideas that can fit into this, Hillary added.

"We`re working on a cook stove project so that we can provide safe and effective cook stoves for women so they don`t have to travel for miles to get trees and branches and look for scrub to light their stoves to feed their families. We`re looking for ways to end domestic violence by making it clear that it is a crime, ways to partner to end FGM, which is a health hazard to women, especially young girls, but then later in their reproductive years," she said.

"We have so many ideas that are not just, well, have a woman run for office or have a woman run a business, but change the conditions in which women live, change the attitude about sending girls to school, provide a fund so that girls have access to clean restrooms, so that they continue to go to school at the end of primary school when it becomes more difficult for them to do so if there is no safe, clean restroom," Hillary said.

"There`s so many ways that we can empower women. So we want to unleash the entrepreneurial creative imagination of all of you to help us," she said.