In a White House ceremony marking International Women’s Day First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton condemned the Taliban militia group for its violations of women’s human rights in Afghanistan. She said, “We must give voice to women in Afghanistan, where women are brutalized and silenced by the Taliban — where girls are barred from school, where thousands of women cannot go to work, leave home alone or get the health care they need. And were those who don’t follow every rule of attire or conduct are punished with beatings, whippings, even death.”
President Clinton commented, “You know, we always say that human rights must be a central pillar of America’s foreign policy, but that is meaningless if those rights are not fully enjoyed by half the people on the planet.” The United States government is withholding official recognition of the Taliban.
Clinton announced that the United States will provide $10 million towards alliances with governments and non-governmental organizations to help end violence against women. He said, “All too often, we know violence limits the choices open to women and young girls, damaging their health, disrupting their lives, obstructing their full participation in society.”
Clinton also announced that he was sending a letter to the Senate leaders asking them to ratify the women human rights treaty, CEDAW, that would ban all forms of discrimination against women.
Mrs. Clinton also commented on the one million women who are trafficked into the United States from Russia and elsewhere. “Those women and girls are desperate for economic opportunity …. They think they’re applying for jobs as babysitters, waitresses, and sales clerks. Many think they are following their dreams and instead, they find themselves in a nightmare, sold as part of an international trade in human beings and forced into modern-day slavery.”
President Clinton vowed to “step up our public education campaigns abroad in an attempt to stop trafficking at its source,” and announced that he had asked Attorney General Reno to investigate the efficiency of laws related towards violence against women in the United States.
Also in attendance were U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, Attorney General Janet Reno, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and U.N. Deputy Secretary General Louise Frechette.
Remarks made by President Clinton and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton marking International Women’s Day