Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Senator Kerry and the "Girl Effect"

I know it's been a few months under this new leadership, but I still get pretty bowled over when politicians publicly champion women's rights and not in a we-should-respect-women-by-not-letting-them-have-abortions-or-birth control kind of way. First our amazing new Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announces that the rights of women will "always be central to our foreign policy."

Then our new President Obama creates a first ever Council on Women and Girls led by Obama's senior aid, Valerie Jarrett. Signed into law on International Women's Day March 8th, the council will, according to Jarrett, "examine all the programs at the federal level that touch on women and girls and we're going to work to coordinate and make sure that each of those programs is doing everything that it could do to help support women and girls." So awesome that it's tear inducing:

Now today, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass) chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has an excellent piece published in the Washington Times discussing the state of women and girls around the world and highlights the importance of investing in our futures. Here are his main talking points:
It's up to all of us to ensure that this economic crisis does not become a global women's crisis, too. At moments like these in developing countries, women are asked to bear the brunt of the hardship. When food is scarce, economists have found that women and girls are pressured to forgo their share altogether so that men and boys have enough to eat. In the same way, we must now make sure that women workers aren't pushed aside as businesses downsize and that daughters aren't taken out of school as families search for extra income
I find it so refreshing to hear the political discourse shift from how we should cut the rights of women globally to how to champion them instead. I am always sensitive, however, to how we discuss global women's issues as to not sound like the great western world sweeping down to save the poor eastern women from their backwards society. I think this is a great piece, though. What are your thoughts? Read the entire commentary here.

Thanks to Colin for the link

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