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Tonight, we are delighted to announce an exciting new addition to our education program entitled Global Girls Lead. Lead is leadership, education, achievement and dialogue. This special initiative for high school girls aims to cultivate lifelong leadership skills and to help these bright aspiring students become the next generation of leaders. Global girls lead is made possible by Jane and Walter Garrison. The Garrison's who founded Pennsylvania Institute of Technology are passionate about education and leadership opportunities for our young people, and we are thrilled and honored to join them in this exciting venture and where is Jane? She is always hiding when it is time to acknowledge her. Here she is. Jane, thank you so much. Our partner in developing Global Girls Lead is the girl scouts of Southeastern Pennsylvania an organization that has promoted girl's leadership for 95 years that is a long time. I am also happy to acknowledge the girls who are participating in this program from schools throughout the area. Girls, why do not you stand up, please? And I would like to welcome the women who have joined us this evening to help launch this special effort. Now, it is my pleasure to introduce Sharon Smith, CEO of Girl Scouts of Southeastern Pennsylvania who will introduce our guest of honor. It really is a pleasure to introduce to you Ambassador Shirin Tahir-Kheli, a special assistant to the president of the United States and the National Security Council senior director for Democracy, Human Rights and International Operations. Prior to taking up her current position Ambassador Kheli was a research professor at Johns Hopkins University where she was the founding director of the South Asia program at the Foreign Policy Institute, throughout her many years of public service. The Ambassador has served at the Department of State, the National Security Council and at the United Nations, most recently as the head of the U.S. Delegation to the United Nation's Commission on human rights in 2001. Ambassador Kheli who holds a Master's and a Doctoral Degree from our very own University Of Pennsylvania and he is also a member of the council on foreign relations in the international institute for strategic studies. Ladies and gentleman please join me in welcoming the Ambassador. Good evening ladies and gentlemen. It is indeed a honor to be here today to address the World Affairs Council. This is my home town and it is indeed an honor to be back. I am little daunted also because it is always the home audience is always the tough audience. And you can never live it down if you do not manage to do what you're supposed to do. So nonetheless it is still good to be here and I thank you for that very-very kind introduction. And my current job actually is at the department of state, where I work as Senior Advisor to Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice for Women's Empowerment. My job thus is to advice the secretary about how the United States can help women world wide have greater enfranchisement and participation in the decisions that affect their lives. The World Affairs Council has a long history and tradition of creating a more informed citizenry in matches of national and international significance. It is fitting therefore that I am here and I am actually deeply honored that you have invited to discuss the political, economic, legal and educational opportunities that the United States is creating to help empower Muslim women in particular. One of the main tasks for which our offices provide support for the secretary is ensuring that issues which affect women get their rightful place on the International Agenda. Thus during the UN general assembly this year, the secretary chaired a Women's Empowerment strategy session with 18 women ministers and heads of state to discuss the critical challenges confronting women in four key areas, political participation, economic opportunity, education and access to justice. These women leaders endorse the need for issues such as legislative and educational reforms and micro-credit programs for benefit women. While these ideas may seem obvious to many of you and often due to me, remember that such endorsements are actually huge strides forward for women leaders in the conservative government of places like Pakistan, Bahrain and other parts in the Middle East. To take advantage of the momentum for that created by the meeting the secretary cerated a new Women's Empowerment Action Team which has been formed at this Department of State. This is a group of Washington-based Ambassadors senior US officials and Non governmental organizations that work together to address the critical challenges to Women's Empowerment. The close relationships our team has formed have allowed us to learn from one another. For example the Ambassador from Bangladesh explained how his country recognized the impact of religious leaders early on, in dealing with local people and thus set up Imam Training Academy to teach the Imams the benefits of educating girls. The Mullahs spread the message helping to adjust community attitude towards sending daughters to school. The Ambassador of Nigeria is now interested in partnering with us to set up a rural education and training facility for girls in her country. And the Ambassador Liechtenstein and Burundi are working with us to see that the UN Peacebuilding Commission, which was just recently formed incorporates the special needs of post-conflict women into it's operation in Burundi. I would argue that most of western civilization has traditionally thought of womens' issues as soft issues. That deal with the private side of life, the life inside the home and family. Women's issues for many people do not necessarily correlate to a vision of fighting deadly diseases. Combating transnational crime and drug trade and growing international markets or promoting democracy. But they should, in fact the most immediate threats to global stability from poverty to disease to crime tyranny can be targeted. Once it is understood the empowerment of women has a profound effect on human security. More and more the direct link between the welfare of women and the welfare of the entire world is becoming clearer. If you thought that the United States has been reaching out to women because of our historic humanitarian value you are only partially correct. Both President Bush and Secretary Rice have fully understood and stated that creating political, economic, legal and educational opportunities for women is a critical aspect of our policy agenda, otherwise achieving far reaching goals such as reducing poverty or advancing democracy as simply not possible. A perfect example of the correlation between women's empowerment and human security is the AIDS epidemic. Last week was world's AIDS day. World AIDS day was established because of threat to human security from HIV was so severe that a united global effort was required to halt it. Today it is widely accepted that addressing gender issues is essential to reducing the vulnerability of both women and men to HIV infection. A lack of education and economic assets increases the risk of women and girls to infection. Many of the practices that increase vulnerability are then reenforced by policies, laws and legal practices that institutionalize discrimination against women. And of course sexual and other forms have abuse against women and girls fuel the spread the HIV. So you see unless women are empowered in other aspects of their lives. HIV infections will continue to grow among men, women and children. Empowering women is the key to this public health threat and the lack of enfranchisement is central to human insecurity. This is why the United States has committed $15 billion in a multifaceted approach to combating the disease. In 2005, approximately 60% of those receiving US supported antiretroviral treatment were women and 69% of those receiving US supported HIV counseling and testing were women. The US works with local partners to design treatment service delivery to reduce barriers to women's access and link treatment and care programs with community efforts to provide food, household expenses and child care. The United States also supports community organizations to change social norms that perpetuate violence again women including alcohol and substance abuse and special programs with the armed services focusing on responsible male behavior. I also want to mention another innovative health program that State Department launched recently. A new initiative has been generating increased interest for its innovative approach to cross county partnerships, which was announced by First Lady Laura Bush in June this year and rolled out recently by Under Secretary for Public Affairs and Pubic Diplomacy Karen Hughes. US Middle East partnership for breast cancer awareness and research facilitate by the Department of States, Office of Pubic Diplomacy and Pubic Affairs and the Middle East partner initiative is uniting the Susan G Komen's Breast Cancer Foundation, The Johns Hopkins Medicine International and the University of Texas, MD Anderson Cancer Center with women, government officials, physicians, and medical organizations in the region to fight against breast cancer through awareness building through awareness building and grass root advocacy support. The partnership was launched with the United Arab Emirates and is expected to expand the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Jordan in 2007. This is the first partnership of breast cancer between United States and the Middle East in an effort to transfer knowledge to the region and to work collectively in an area of awareness, research, training, community outreach and woman's empowerment. Turning to another great global challenge, poverty is one of the greatest human insecurities faced by the world today. Study-after-study however now shows that expanding woman's economic opportunities is smart economics. Increased women's labor force participation and earnings associate with reduced poverty and faster growth. This means that women benefit from the economic empowerment but so to will men, children and society as a whole in both rich and poor countries the under utilization of women stunts economic growth. A study last year by the world economic forum found a clear correlation between sex equality measured by economic participation, education, health and political empowerment and GDP per head. One of the resounding success stories is the economic empowerment of women is Microfinance. This year Bangladesh's economist Muhammad Yunus and his Grameen Bank won the Nobel Peace Price for leveraging small loans into major social change for impoverished families. The Grameen Bank's pioneering use of Microcredit has been duplicated across the globe since Mr. Yunus started the project in his home village three decades ago. Loans as low as $9 have helped beggars start small businesses and poor women buy cellular phones and basket-weaving materials. Throughout the developing world the United States supports microfinance projects because they have been shown to alleviate poverty in a financially sustainable way. This year alone the United States Agency for International Development extended $211 million to microenterprise. While the percentage woman borrowers differs from county-to-country women now account for 80% of the world 70 million micro-borrowers. To support the economic opportunity of Arab women the Middle East partnership initiatives provides legal and business fellowships that include one month executive MBA or LLM programs in the United States and 5 months fellowship at US law firms of Fortune 500 businesses. 80 women from 16 countries in the region have benefitted thus far. As Karen Hughes recently announced the opening of 7 new business networking hubs for women in Morocco, Lebanon, Palestinian Territories, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait. These county hubs will empower local women to create a network of our business women to provide employment skills, work place training and professional mentoring. While skills development is important it can have a multiply effect coupled with mentoring. Dina Powell the State Department Assistant Secretary for Educational and Cultural Affairs has launched a Fortune 500 mentorship program bringing women from around the globe to Washington in May for leadership development and discussions with senior women in government, academia and business. They also met with First Lady Laura Bush and a panel of other senior women and were individually mentored by senior level fortune 500 women executives for 3 weeks. Initial responses to the program were overwhelming and this program is being expanded in its second year. One graduate of this program went on to start a business in Pakistan, and noted when she was in Washington that she said I am here alone but I bring my entire village. Women who bring income into the home get more involved in their families decision making as we know are more mobile and more politically and legally aware and active. The economic empowerment women has had other benefits as well. When work is done outside the home and the employed women earns a wage have contribution to the families prosperity is more visible. She also has more of a voice because she is less dependent on others. The higher status thus affects ideas and perceptions of the worth of the female children in the house. Also consider that income in the hands of women has a dramatic impact on the well being of their families. Women spend a significantly higher proportion of their income on Childrens food, health and education ensuring that the next generation will have better future. There is considerable evidence to show that women's education literacy tend to reduce the mortality of their children. Their economic empowerment thus will have flourishing results on the overall human security and freedom. A well established foreign policy goal of the United States is to promote democratic development world wide. The United States advances its goal because of our deep rooted belief that democracy lays the foundation for women more peaceful and secure world. I recently heard a quote from a brave Kuwaiti woman who was speaking out to men in her country as they neared the election. One of her sayings which has now become a legend in the region is when she challenged the place of women in the Kuwait political system and declared that half a democracy is not a democracy. She was right, Kuwaiti women won the right to vote and stand for election this year. The promotion of democracy obviously cannot be done without the political and enfranchisement for women. Limitations on legal right and participation in civil society unfortunately remain wide spread. Political leadership positions are still largely occupied by men although women have increasingly provided dynamic leadership in the non-governmental and small enterprise sectors. Legal restriction on women's land and property ownership continue to hamper women's ability to acquire productive assets. Such limitations on the rights and access of women are obstacles to democratic development, through our cooperation with the National Democratic Institute and the International Republic Institute in the foundation for the defense of democracy. The Department of state has been proud to be raising the political advocacy and communication skills of women candidates with innovative regional campaign schools and ongoing mentoring throughout the Muslim world. One of our recent programs provided training to Kuwaiti women on campaign strategies which help them stand for election in Kuwait for the first time in recent history. Another program funded by the department of state is the women's political training initiative in Indonesia. With the goal of encouraging participation of women at the grass roots level the department supported hands on training activities designed to improve the participants understanding of government and political institutions, campaigns and fund raising, networking and coalition building and media and communication skills. In Bangladesh the Department of State sports and innovative program for elected women officials helping them gain equal access to funding and resources to serve the needs of their constituents. To help these elected women leaders local partners provide ongoing workshops and consultations to help them acquire skills for issue identification, strategic planning, constituency service, organization, communications and coalition building. Thus democracy promotion and ultimately the proliferation of a free safe and peaceful society is important and it is also not possible without ensuring that women are enfranchised with legal identity and a real role in the political process. Another profound illustration of the impact of Womens' Empowerment on human insecurity is trafficking. Trafficking in persons is the modern day form of slavery, young women and children are especially easy prey. Traffickers typically lure women abroad with the fast promises of jobs as models, domestics, dancers, waitresses, nannies, and factory workers. Human trafficking violates our insistence of morality and human dignity, but also contributes to human security, mainly by providing revenues to criminal organizations. The United Nations estimates that trafficking in person generates approximately $7 billion annually. That worldwide commerce is closely intertwined with other related criminal activities such as extortion, racketeering, money laundering, drug use, gambling and bribery of corrupt officials. In addition trafficking contributes to the spread of HIV. The unequal status of woman and girls and cultures that regard women as commodities has worked to the advantages of traffickers. These stereo types couple with low literacy rates for girls and few opportunities to attend school or learne a trade especially in poor rural areas in developing countries, makes girls and women more vulnerable to false promises of great job offers. Unemployment, stagnant or disintegrating economic and social structures as well as they perceived inferior status has driven many to seek better opportunities in other nations or abroad. Local activists work tirelessly to help mistreated migrant workers and sex trafficking victims, facilitating legal assistance and shelter for traffic victims and assisting them in repatriation. In Indonesia for example the US works with local partners to raise awareness of human trafficking amongst women and children and rural communities in West Java through an anti traffic and media campaign, which has included the distribution of 22,000 leaflets each week in Mosque's after Friday prayers along with outreach to village health clinics and schools. The United States supports activists who have research and produce written works concerning the application of Islamic law and human trafficking. And unprecedented initiative use Islamic arguments some traditions to combat at this crime. Such scholarship highlights the Islamic perspective on victim rights, the rights of women and children and the immorality of human trafficking while emphasizing that victims should not be criminalized and that communities have responsibility to combat trafficking. With human trafficking is one of the most urgent problems in several regions of the world and with far ranging the implications for the perpetration of drugs, crime, and disease. These types of empowerment activities are critical to the safety of the international community. In all of our empowerment efforts literacy and education underpin the work. Literacy and education improve respect in regard for womens' well being as these are strongly influenced by such variables such as womens' ability to earn an independent income to find employment outside the home to have ownership rights to be educated participance in decisions within and outside the family and thus to have more security generally. Thus the Unites States spends hundreds of millions of dollars annually for literacy programs worldwide to assist developing countries to improve their respective preprimary, primary, secondary, and higher levels of education. Teacher training for these levels as well as adult literacy are important elements of our programs. Our consultations with several Muslim countries also revealed that alternative education models are needed. In other words, girls don't just need math and reading. They need skills that will help them get jobs; give them a competitive edge in male dominated job markets. That is why the state department has launched an innovative women in technology training program across Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Oman, the UAE, Kuwait, Yemen, and Iraq. With partners such as Microsoft, the US is providing cutting edge curriculum and training opportunities. In business planning information technology to nearly 3000 women this year and this program is growing. Thus, as you can see promoting a stronger and more productive role for women demands a broad and flexible approach. A new brand of innovative diplomacy is essential, diplomacy that goes beyond the conference room and diplomatic receptions. Transformational diplomacy has articulated by Secretary Rice means that the United States seeks to use America's diplomatic part will help foreign citizens to better their own lives to built their own nations and to transform their own futures. Transformational diplomacy indeed requires innovation and creative sustainable relationships. For example, the department of state is about to launch an brand-new in partnership between American University and Peshawar University in Pakistan to create a state of the art human rights and gender study center in one of the most conservative areas of Pakistan. This kind of an exchange will have far reaching benefits that traditional diplomacy would not necessarily be able to achieve. Likewise the department has set up a new partnership between Harvard University and a Women's College in Saudi Arabia and habitat for humanity. The women from each university will travel to Jordan this spring to work with local community on a housing project. The intercultural and interfere dialogue that will result from this exchange could never cover diplomacy was limited exclusively to diplomatic channels. People and especially women want to serve and make these connections and it is the honor of the department of state to help build these bridges. Recognizing this need, we have setup in fact a new e-mail address, which our office will monitor and its a very simple one and it is email@example.com in my outreach efforts around this country and I travel abroad I started to give this address. You'd be surprised at the number of communications that this has started and the amazingly innovative ideas for diplomacy and partnerships to empower women that we have already heard. I offer this to you and any of you who have some thoughts on what you perceive as a need and what we might do please be in touch. I promise to be back in touch with you. In the end, I would like to just conclude by saying that in order to reduce poverty disease, hunger, crime, in advanced democracy we have to empower women. There is no better way to touch the heart and soul of the country then to reach out to its women, because no women will have a pass up the chance to create a better and more healthful life for her family. It is particularly important that we reach out them. The Ambassador of Nigeria once shared an old french proverb with me that goes, "When a woman want something god wants it too". And I have repeated it, I do not know whether she is aware how often I have repeated it. Government in civil society must defeat the perception that women's issues are soft and recognize the enfranchisement of women has far reaching implications for our own freedom, safety and security. As Secretary Rice has said in the dynamic 21st century, no society can expect to flourish with half of its people sitting on the sidelines with no opportunity to develop their talents to contribute to their economy or to play an equal part in the lives of their nations. Once again thank you very much for inviting me for being here tonight and for giving me a chance to talk about something that I care deeply about and I know that many of you do as well. Thank you again.