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Secretary Rice Pushes Rights for Mid East Women, Yields to “Custom”

At a speech at the American University in Cairo, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice endorsed women’s rights in the Middle East but said the United States had “some boundaries about what it is we are trying to achieve”. These boundaries include activities that Rice said might be tied to a society’s “custom” or “tradition.” Answering a journalist’s question concerning women and their lack of the right to drive in Saudi Arabia, she said “When women have a voice in the political system…we will see what is really custom and what really matters to Saudi women.” She continued, “It’s just a line that I have not wanted to cross.”

However, Rice emphasized the importance of including women in democracy. “We need to continue to draw attention to the fact that we do think that a democracy is not a democracy if women are not fully included in it,” she said, according to the Washington Post.

Sources:

Secretary Rice speech 6/20/05; Secretary Rice remarks 6/21/05; Washington Post 6/22/05

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