Hillary Clinton: Women’s Economic Empowerment

Sec. Clinton championed women’s empowerment, entrepreneurship, and investment in women’s economic potential. As Hillary Clinton states in Hard Choices, creating opportunity for women and girls throughout the world “directly supports everyone’s security and prosperity, and should be part of our diplomacy and development work.” As Secretary of State, she followed through on a lifetime of championing women’s causes by expanding women’s economic prospects, initiating programs dedicated to entrepreneurship around the world. Through international partnerships, Sec. Clinton elevated women’s political and economic prospects and raised women’s issues “at all international economic forums.”

Elevated Political and Economic Empowerment for Women and Girls

Sec. Clinton worked “to raise women’s issues at all international economic forums.” According to an op-ed by former Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues Melanne Verveer in the Christian Science Monitor, “Clinton worked to raise women’s issues at all international economic forums – from APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) to the G20 to the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development). She launched regional networking and training programs for women entrepreneurs and formed many robust public-private partnerships to promote women’s economic empowerment.” [Melanne Verveer, Christian Science Monitor, 3/8/13]

Sec. Clinton told delegates of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Women and the Economy Summit that empowering women meant a stronger, more stable world economy. According to San Jose Mercury News, “Empowering women means a stronger, more stable world economy, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Friday to the largest diplomatic gathering in the Bay Area since the United Nations charter was signed here in 1945. And although the past half-century has seen tremendous progress, there’s still much to be done to ensure women have the opportunity, information, resources and legal rights they need for economic success, Clinton told delegates to the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Women and the Economy Summit.” [San Jose Mercury News, 9/16/11]

Sec. Clinton: “The United States is committed to advancing opportunities for women as entrepreneurs and business leaders.” According to video remarks at an event for the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, Sec. Clinton said, “Businesses owned by women make considerable contributions to national economies. But too often, their growth is limited by unfair barriers. The United States is committed to advancing opportunities for women as entrepreneurs and business leaders. We view it as both a moral and strategic imperative for the 21st century. That’s why we are helping women entrepreneurs with business training and mentoring; and support policies that improve women’s access to finance, technology, and networks.” [Remarks at OECD Event on Women’s Entrepreneurship, state.gov, 11/1/11]

Created Programs to Achieve Greater Empowerment for Women

Sec. Clinton launched the Equal Futures Partnership to fight for women’s political and economic empowerment. According to a White House fact sheet on the Equal Futures Partnership, “A growing body of evidence shows that women’s political and economic empowerment are critical to fostering international peace and security, growing vibrant market economies, and supporting open and accountable governance. Recognizing that no country can realize its potential if half its population cannot reach theirs, President Obama issued a challenge before the United Nations General Assembly in September 2011 to break down barriers to women’s political and economic empowerment. […] In response to this challenge, on September 24, 2012, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton launched the Equal Futures Partnership on behalf of the United States along with 12 other founding members (Australia, Benin, Bangladesh, Denmark, Finland, Indonesia, Jordan, the Netherlands, Peru, Senegal, and Tunisia; as well as the European Union).” [“Fact Sheet: The Equal Futures Partnership to Expand Women’s Political and Economic Participation,” whitehouse.gov, 9/24/12]

Under Sec. Clinton, the Asian-Pacific partners of APEC agreed to the “San Francisco Declaration,” an agreement to take concrete actions to realize the full economic potential of women. In 2011, Secretary Clinton brought together representatives from APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) nations to agree to the “San Francisco Declaration.” The Declaration stated, “We, APEC ministers and senior government officials, along with private sector leaders, met in San Francisco, California, September 16, 2011 for the High Level Policy Dialogue on Women and the Economy, under the Chairmanship of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. […] In 2011 and beyond, APEC economies will take concrete actions to realize the full potential of women, integrate them more fully into APEC economies, harness their talents, remove barriers that restrict women’s full economic participation, and maximize their contributions towards economic growth.” In 2012, Sec. Clinton traveled to St. Petersburg, Russia, where she “led the U.S. Delegation to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation’s Women and the Economy Forum (WEF). During this event, participants focused on leadership and skills and capacity building, two main areas of the San Francisco Declaration on decreasing barriers to women’s economic participation, as they relate to innovation, STEM, entrepreneurship, and healthy lifestyles.” [APEC.org, 9/16/11; state.gov, 6/30/12]

Sec. Clinton’s Strategic Dialogue with Civil Society project brought activists in the Middle East and North Africa together to discuss “how to further women’s political and economic engagement.” According to a press release from the U.S. Embassy in Amman, Jordan, “Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues Melanne Verveer arrived on a four-day visit to Jordan today. While in Amman, Ambassador Verveer will host a regional convening of the Working Group on Women’s Empowerment. Under Secretary Clinton’s Strategic Dialogue with Civil Society, the Working Group brings together activists from across the Middle East and North Africa to discuss how to further women’s political and economic engagement in the region.” [U.S. Embassy Jordan, 6/24/12]

Promoted Women’s Entrepreneurship around the World

Sec. Clinton launched WEAmericas to help women in Latin America and the Caribbean start and grow small businesses. According to a State Department fact sheet on WEAmericas, “Recognizing that investing in women is not only the right thing, but also the smart thing, President Obama announced and Secretary Clinton launched the Women’s Entrepreneurship in the Americas (WEAmericas) initiative at the Summit of the Americas in April 2012. WEAmericas leverages public-private partnerships to increase women’s economic participation in Latin America and the Caribbean by reducing barriers women often confront in starting and growing SMEs: access to training and networks, access to markets, and access to finance.” [“Women’s Entrepreneurship in the Americas (WEAmericas),” state.gov, 10/12/12]

Sec. Clinton’s State Department created the African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program to “provide women with the tools and skills” to implement the African Growth and Opportunity Act. According to a State Department report on women’s and girls’ issues, “In conjunction with the 2010 AGOA Ministerial (African Growth and Opportunity Act), the Department created the African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program to provide women with the tools and skills they need to more successfully implement AGOA and its benefits for building businesses and markets. The Department secured $200,000 from Exxon-Mobil to fund follow-up entrepreneurship training to support building businesses.” [“Sidebar on Women’s and Girls’ Issues,” state.gov, 11/15/10]

Under Sec. Clinton’s leadership, the Invest for the Future program focused on improving women’s entrepreneurship and economic situations across Southern and Eastern Europe and Eurasia. According to the Invest for the Future website, “The Invest for the Future program was initiated by the US Department of State under the leadership of Secretary of State, [Hillary] Clinton and Global Ambassador-at-large for Global Women’s Issues, Melanne Verveer. IFTF was conceptualized to focus on improving the economic situation for women across Southern and Eastern Europe and Eurasia. Through a series of events it brought together women entrepreneurs, educators, policy-makers, and civil society leaders to foster development and overcome barriers to fully realize the promise of gender equality and ‘smart economics’, as investing in women profits all of society.” [Invest for the Future, accessed 2/4/14]

Sec. Clinton founded the U.S.-Pakistan Women’s Council with American University and the Organization of Pakistani Entrepreneurs of North America “to promote economic opportunities for women in Pakistan.” In her remarks at the Equal Futures Partnership launch, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, “I’m pleased to announce that the State Department and American University, along with the Organization of Pakistani Entrepreneurs of North America and our counterparts in Pakistan, are founding the U.S.-Pakistan Women’s Council to promote economic opportunities for women in Pakistan. The Council will connect businesses, universities, and individual donors in both the United States and Pakistan. And I’m very pleased that Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States is here with us today.” [Remarks at the Equal Futures Partnership Launch, state.gov, 9/24/12]

Sec. Clinton held a conference for women entrepreneurs through the Pathways to Prosperity program. According to her remarks at the Pathways to Prosperity Women Entrepreneurs Conference, Sec. Clinton said, “Part of what we are trying to do here in the State Department with all of you is to make the case that empowering women is a key to progress and prosperity and peace. Bringing together the mentors and the entrepreneurs is one way of creating even more support for all of you in business to be able to spread the benefits of women taking leadership roles. I’ve heard about some of the work that you are doing in your own lives, and I am very touched by the courage and the commitment that so many of you have already shown.” [Remarks at the Pathways to Prosperity Women Entrepreneurs Conference, state.gov, 10/9/09]