What does a woman mean when she makes progress, who knows it better than US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Recently, when he got a chance to address the students of Barnard College, Colombo University, Hillary instructed him to raise his voice. Here are some excerpts from this speech:
Education has opened new doors of development for women. Today women are leading big companies, are excellent players, they have also got high positions in education and politics. Women are also not behind in social work. Women have achieved a new place in the entire world including America. This is because women are educated. I believe that education is very important not only for the development of women, but also for the development of the whole society. If a society has to move forward, it must first educate its women. No society can move forward by pushing women back. Education not only imparts bookish knowledge to women, but also instills confidence in them. The confidence of women is the strength of society.
The world faces many tough challenges at this time. Economic recession, terrorism, global warming, sexual harassment, outbreak of diseases and more. Women can play an important role in dealing with these problems. You are the messenger of your ideals and thoughts. You have to lead the world, to deal with all these challenges. Your role is not limited to your home and society. You are a global citizen. Believe me, you have the ability to run the society and the world, and have the courage to struggle with difficulties. You are not less than men. You should interfere in every field, you should exist in every field. But with new growth opportunities, your responsibility increases. You can decide the future of your society, set a new example. We have full faith in your spirit and ability.
While women are on the path of progress, at many places in the world, women are still victims of discrimination. Where there is poverty, women get the lowest and most later food. Girls are not sent to school there. Where there are wars, women refugees become victims of rape and other forms of exploitation. We saw all this in the Congo, it was extremely painful. You cannot deprive women of education in the name of religion. This is a hoax. Denying women their rights cannot be part of any religious tradition. I say that women’s rights are human rights and human rights is women’s rights. You cannot protect human rights without protecting the rights of women. If you want to know how democratic and how developed a country is, then you have to look at the women of that country. The future and present of the country is determined by the progress of women. Yes, their struggle should find a voice, their efforts should be recognized. Only then you will be able to take society forward in the true sense.
The good thing is that despite all the problems, change is happening. In a country like Kuwait, for the first time in the year 2009, women got a chance to go to Parliament. This was not a small thing, it was a big step towards change. While women became victims of harassment in the Congo, some women were seen warning other women about the danger through radio messages. While school-going girls were tortured in Afghanistan, some courageous women took up the task of teaching other girls, regardless of the terror threat. In Cambodia, the victims of sexual assault campaigned to release the girls from the brothels. As part of this campaign, the women themselves, who were victims of persecution, raided several places and released the girls so that they could be sent to school. These examples arouse new hope, encourage us. Our confidence is increased by such brave women, we are confident that later on we will be able to stop the atrocities on women.
Power of technology
Recently I got a chance to meet a young girl from Yemen. At the age of nine, the girl was married to an old man. This girl protested and ran away from home and filed for divorce. I was overwhelmed meeting her. The news of this girl was not given any consideration in the media there. But later this event got worldwide publicity through a blog. While watching, many people all over the world stood in support of this girl. Today you have a big weapon like social networking site. You can campaign on Facebook on a sensitive issue like human trafficking by uniting your friends. Through Twitter, you can spread your voice around the world. You can get any kind of information on the website. The 21st century has given you this wonderful gift. Ask yourself what can I do for my society? I hope that you will not only work to fulfill your dreams, but will also work for those who do not get education and opportunities like you.