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When outlining the new role
of development in the Obama administration's foreign policy, Secretary of State
Hillary Rodham Clinton stressed that one of the key points of the new strategy
will be to focus on working with women and girls, because they are critical to
advancing social, economic, and political progress:
"Women and girls are one of the
world's greatest untapped resources. Investing in the potential of women to
lift and lead their societies is one of the best investments we can make. . .
.When a woman receives even just one year of schooling, her children are less
likely to die in infancy or suffer from illness or hunger, and more likely to
go to school themselves."
Studies by international bodies such as the World Bank, United Nations and the
World Economic Forum correlate investments in women with greater economic
growth, good governance, and democratic progress.
And these are some of the reasons, said Secretary of State Clinton, why the
United States is "taking steps to put women front and center in our
" We're starting to design
programs with the needs of women in mind - by hiring more women as extension
workers to reach women farmers, or women health educators to improve outreach
to women and girls. And we are training more women in our partner countries to
carry forward the work of development themselves."
"One reason that microfinance is employed around the world is because women
have proven to be such a safe and reliable credit risk," said Secretary of
State Clinton. "The money they borrow is not only invested and
re-invested, and turned into a profit, it is used to improve conditions for
their families. And it is almost always repaid."
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Indeed, according to the Council on Foreign Relations, whereas a man is likely
to keep half or more of his income for himself, a woman will most likely share
with her family and her community.
"You know the proverb, Give a man a fish and he'll eat for a day, but
teach a man to fish and he'll eat for a lifetime?" said Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton. "Well, if you teach a woman to fish, she'll feed the