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March 11, 1998

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We cannot advance our ideals and interests unless we focus more attention on the fundamental human rights...of women and girls... We are putting our efforts to protect and advance women's rights where they belong -- in the mainstream of American foreign policy.

- President Bill Clinton
December 10, 1997

Today, President Clinton celebrates International Women's Day by highlighting the Administration's commitment to fighting human rights abuses against women around the world. In his remarks, the President announces several new initiatives to prevent violence against women and calls for Senate advice and consent for ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).

Today, the President announces a series of actions to address women's human rights, including:

Stopping Violence Against Women. Violence against women remains a widespread violation of human rights around the world. To help end this:

  • The United States Government is committing an additional $10 million in FY 98 and 99 to combat violence against women around the world;
  • USAID will expand its efforts to assist victims through crisis centers and hotlines and strengthen efforts toward legislative reform, legal training and advocacy;
  • The State Department's Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) will work with local communities in Russia and the Soviet Union to carry out training for police, doctors, social workers, judges, prosecutors and crisis center personnel in Russia and the former Soviet Union;
  • The United States Government is taking further steps to combat the trafficking of women, including a Department of Justice initiative to enhance the capability of law enforcement officials to combat this problem and a joint project with the Government of Ukraine to develop and implement a comprehensive and integrated strategy to combat trafficking of women and girls into and out of Ukraine;
  • The United State's government is convening an international conference on the prevention of trafficking.

Calling For Senate Advice And Consent To Ratify CEDAW. The President is calling on the United States Senate to ratify the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the most comprehensive international treaty to date that addresses the rights of women. 161 countries have ratified CEDAW since its adoption by the UN in 1979, including all our European allies and virtually all of our important trading partners.

Promoting Women's Rights In Afghanistan. Since the movement known as the Taliban became a military and political force in late 1994, women and girls in Afghanistan have been forced to become virtually invisible. The Taliban has issued edicts forbidding women from working outside the home, prohibiting girls from attending school, restricting women's access to medical treatment, and imposing other restrictions on dress and movement. The United States has repeatedly condemned Taliban human rights violations, particularly against women and girls. Today, the President will announce a new initiative to increase funding for support of Afghan women's grass-roots organizations and to provide more funds for support of training and technical assistance to improve the skills of women in Afghanistan, particularly in the areas of health care and development projects.

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