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U.S. Department of State 
95/09/06 Remarks:  Amb. Albright before 4th World Conf. on Women 
 
 
 
 
 
                           U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE 
                          Office of the Spokesman 
 
                             (Beijing, China) 
___________________________________________________________________ 
                                                  September 6, 1995 
 
           REMARKS TO THE FOURTH WORLD CONFERENCE ON WOMEN 
 
             AMBASSADOR MADELEINE K. ALBRIGHT 
        U.S. PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE TO THE UNITED NATIONS 
               Beijing International Conventional Center 
                     September 6, 1995> 
 
 
Honored guests, fellow delegates and observers, I am pleased and proud 
to address this historic conference on behalf of the United States of 
America. 
 
My government congratulates the thousands who have helped to organize 
the conference, to draft the Platform for Action, to inform the world 
about the subjects under discussion here and to encourage wide 
participation both by governments and NGO's. 
 
We have come here from all over the world to carry forward an age-old 
struggle: the pursuit of economic and social progress for all people, 
based on respect for the dignity and value of each. 
 
We are here to promote and protect human rights and to stress that 
women's rights are neither separable nor different from those of men. 
 
We are here to stop sexual crimes and other violence against women; to 
protect refugees, so many of whom are women; and to end the despicable 
notion--in this era of conflicts--that rape is just another tactic of 
war. 
 
We are here to empower women by enlarging their role in making economic 
and political decisions, an idea some find radical, but which my 
government believes is essential to economic and social progress around 
the world; because no country can develop if half its human resources 
are de-valued or repressed. 
 
We are here because we want to strengthen families, the heart and soul 
of any society.  We believe that girls must be valued to the same degree 
as boys.  We believe, with Pope John Paul II, in the "equality of 
spouses with respect to family rights".  We think women and men should 
be able to make informed judgments as they plan their families.  And we 
want to see forces that weaken families--including pornography, domestic 
violence and the sexual exploitation of children--condemned and 
curtailed. 
 
Finally, we have come to this conference to assure for women equal 
access to education and health care, to help women protect against 
infection by HIV, to recognize the special needs and strengths of women 
with disabilities, and to attack the root causes of poverty, in which so 
many women, children and men are entrapped.  
 
We have come to Beijing to make further progress towards each of these 
goals.  But real progress will depend not on what we say here, but on 
what we do after we leave here.  The Fourth World Conference for Women 
is not about conversations; it is about commitments. 
 
For decades, my nation has led efforts to promote equal rights for 
women.  Women in their varied roles--as mothers, farm laborers, factory 
workers, organizers and community leaders helped build America.  My 
government is based on principles that recognize the right of every 
person to equal rights and equal opportunity.  Our laws forbid 
discrimination on the basis of sex and we work hard to enforce those 
laws.  A rich network of nongovernmental organizations has blossomed 
within our borders, reaching out to women and girls from all segments of 
society, educating, counseling and advocating change. 
 
The United States is a leader, but leaders cannot stand still.  Barriers 
to the equal participation of women persist in my country.  The Clinton 
Administration is determined to bring those barriers down. 
 
Today, in the spirit of this conference, and in the knowledge that 
concrete steps to advance the status of women are required in every 
nation, I am pleased to announce the new commitments my government will 
undertake: 
 
First, President Clinton will establish a White House Council on Women 
to plan for the effective implementation within the United States of the 
Platform for Action.  That Council will build on the commitments made 
today and will work every day with the nongovernmental community. 
 
Second, in accordance with recently-approved law, the Department of 
Justice will launch a six-year, $1.6 billion initiative to fight 
domestic violence and other crimes against women.  Funds will be used 
for specialized police and prosecution units and to train police, 
prosecutors and judicial personnel. 
 
Third, our Department of Health and Human Services will lead a 
comprehensive assault on threats to the health and security of women--
promoting healthy behavior, increasing awareness about AIDS, 
discouraging the use of cigarettes, and striving to win the battle 
against breast cancer. 
 
And, as Mrs. Clinton made clear yesterday, the United States remains 
firmly committed to the reproductive health rights gains made in Cairo. 
 
Fourth, our Department of Labor will conduct a grassroots campaign to 
improve conditions for women in the workplace.  The campaign will work 
with employers to develop more equitable pay and promotion policies and 
to help employees balance the twin responsibilities of family and work. 
 
Fifth, our Department of the Treasury will take new steps to promote 
access to financial credit for women.  Outstanding U.S. microenterprise 
lending organizations will be honored through special Presidential 
awards; and we will improve coordination of federal efforts to encourage 
growth in this field of central importance to the economic empowerment 
of women. 
 
Sixth, the Agency for International Development will continue to lead in 
promoting and recognizing the vital role of women in development.  
Today, we announce important initiatives to increase women's 
participation in political processes and to promote the enforcement of 
women's legal rights. 
 
There is a seventh and final commitment my country  is making today.  
We, the people and government of the United States of America, will 
continue to speak out openly and without hesitation on behalf of the 
human rights of all people. 
 
My country is proud that, nearly a half century ago, Eleanor Roosevelt, 
a former First Lady of the United States, helped draft the Universal 
Declaration of Human Rights.  We are proud that, yesterday afternoon, in 
this very hall, our current First Lady--Hillary Rodham Clinton--re-
stated with memorable eloquence our national commitment to that 
Declaration. 
 
The Universal Declaration reflects spiritual and moral tenets which are 
central to all cultures, encompassing both the wondrous diversity that 
defines us and the common humanity that binds us.  It obliges each 
government to strive in law and practice to protect the rights of those 
under its jurisdiction.  Whether a government fulfills that obligation 
is a matter not simply of domestic, but of universal, concern.  For it 
is a founding principle of the United Nations that no government can 
hide its human rights record from the world. 
 
At the heart of the Universal Declaration is a fundamental distinction 
between coercion and choice. 
 
No woman--whether in Birmingham, Bombay, Beirut or Beijing--should be 
forcibly sterilized or forced to have an abortion. 
 
No mother should feel compelled to abandon her daughter because of a 
societal preference for males. 
 
No woman should be forced to undergo genital mutilation, or to become a 
prostitute, or to enter into marriage or to have sex. 
 
No one should be forced to remain silent for fear of religious or 
political persecution, arrest, abuse or torture. 
 
All of us should be able to exercise control over the course of our own 
lives and be able to help shape the destiny of our communities and 
countries. 
 
Let us be clear.  Freedom to participate in the political process of our 
countries is the inalienable right of every woman and man.  Deny that 
right, and you deny everything. 
 
It is unconscionable, therefore, that the right to free expression has 
been called into question right here, at a conference conducted under 
the auspices of the UN and whose very purpose is the free and open 
discussion of women's rights. 
 
And it is a challenge to us all that so many countries in so many parts 
of the world--north, south, west and east--fall far short of the noble 
objectives outlined in the Platform for Action. 
 
Every nation, including my own, must do better and do more--to make 
equal rights a fundamental principle of law; to enforce those rights and 
to remove barriers to the exercise of those rights. 
 
That is why President Clinton has made favorable action on the 
Convention to Eliminate Discrimination Against Women a top priority.  
The United States should be a party to that Convention. 
 
 And it is why we will continue to seek a dialogue with governments--
here and elsewhere--that deny to their citizens the rights enumerated in 
the Universal Declaration. 
 
In preparing for this conference, I came across an old Chinese poem that 
is worth recalling, especially today, as we observe the Day of the Girl-
Child.  In the poem, a father says to his daughter: 
 
     We keep a dog to watch the house 
     A pig is useful, too, 
     We  keep a cat to catch a mouse, 
     But what can we do with a girl like you?  
 
Fellow delegates, let us make sure that question never needs to be asked 
again--in China or anywhere else around the world. 
 
Let us strive for the day when every young girl, in every village and 
metropolis, can look ahead with confidence that their lives will be 
valued, their individuality recognized, their rights protected and their 
futures determined by their own abilities and character 
 
Let us reject outright the forces of repression and ignorance that have 
held us back; and act with the strength and optimism unity can provide. 
 
Let us honor the legacy of the heroines, famous and unknown, who 
struggled in years past to build the platform upon which we now stand. 
 
And let us heed the instruction of our own lives.  Look around this 
hall, and you will see women who have reached positions of power and 
authority.  Go to Huairou, and you will see an explosion of energy and 
intelligence devoted to every phase of this struggle.  Enter any 
community in any country, and you will find women insisting--often at 
great risk--on their right to an equal voice and equal access to the 
levers of power. 
 
This past week, on video at the NGO Forum, Aung San Suu Kyi, said that 
"it is time to apply in the arena of the world the wisdom and 
experience" women have gained. 
 
Let us all agree; it is time.  It is time to turn bold talk into 
concrete action.   
 
It is time to unleash the full capacity for production, accomplishment 
and the enrichment of life that is inherent in us--the women of the 
world.   
 
Thank you very much. 
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