WASHINGTON, March 3 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Women are key to rebuilding Afghanistan and Haiti and putting both nations on the path to secure and sustainable development, according to two prominent women leaders from those nations. Suraya Pakzad, Director of Voice of Women in Herat, Afghanistan, who was named by TIME magazine as one of the world's 100 Most Influential People in 2009, and Kathy Mangones, Haiti country program director for UNIFEM, the UN Women's Fund, will issue a call on Capitol Hill for policymakers to put women front and center in two of the most high-profile U.S. and international assistance efforts underway in the developing world.
They will be joined by Maria Otero, Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs at the State Department, and Congressional leaders including Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) at the second Annual International Women's Day Breakfast on Capitol Hill entitled Lessons from the Frontlines: Afghanistan, Haiti and the Path to a More Secure World. The event, hosted by Women Thrive Worldwide and the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) at 8:30 a.m., March 4 at Dirksen Room 106, will be held as women around the world mark the fifteenth anniversary of the 1995 International Women's Conference in Beijing where 189 nations pledged action towards greater equality and opportunity for women and where then-First Lady and current Secretary of State Hillary Clinton famously said, "human rights are women's rights, and women's rights are human rights."
"Whether in Afghanistan and Haiti or elsewhere in the world, women are the best investment to build stronger families and communities and more stable economies," said Ritu Sharma, Co-Founder and President of Women Thrive Worldwide. "But they are still the majority of the world's poor. As the U.S. reforms its foreign assistance programs, it is crucial that gender be a central pillar of our revamped foreign policy and assistance efforts."
"This is a historic time. It is the 15th anniversary of the Beijing Platform for Action. We cannot continue to exclude one-half the population and still meet the challenge to build a more secure world," said Ines Alberdi, Executive Director, UNIFEM. "We will not have security without human security and we will not have human security without sufficient—even equal—numbers of women at each and every decision-making table."
Recently, both the Obama Administration and Congress have taken strong steps toward reforming U.S. foreign assistance, with the launch of the Presidential Study Directive (PSD) on global development, and the State Department's first-ever Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR). Both these processes provide an opportunity for the U.S. to strengthen its long-term commitment and capacity for integrating gender into its foreign policy and making assistance more effective.
According to a report by Women Thrive Worldwide, the Administration's 2010 International Affairs Budget request, which will be debated in Congress soon, "gives unprecedented attention to the importance of women to U.S. foreign affairs." The past year has also seen the creation of an Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues position at the State Department and a Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee covering women's issues.
Congress has also taken important steps toward reforming U.S. foreign assistance. Chairman Berman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee has declared his intent to re-write the Foreign Assistance Act and introduced legislation earlier this Congress calling on the Obama Administration to develop a National Strategy for Global Development. Senators Kerry and Lugar have also introduced legislation that would strengthen accountability for U.S. government spending on foreign assistance.
Background on Women Thrive Worldwide and UNIFEM
Women Thrive Worldwide is the leading Washington, DC-based organization advocating for U.S. policies that help women in developing countries lift themselves out of poverty. UNIFEM is the women's fund at the United Nations, dedicated to advancing women's rights and achieving gender equality.
SOURCE Women Thrive Worldwide