On "Subject" mention article name and
in the Hemisphere: An Interview with April
Coordinator, International Women's Issues, U.S.
Department of State
By Sahnya Shulterbrandt (2)
special thanks to Rainy Young, Office of Regional Press Outreach
you please tell us some of the initiatives that US Government have taken in
order to promote Women’s Empowerment in US and the Hemisphere?
The United States is a champion of human rights and the well being of women and
minorities worldwide. As President Bush has said, "We have a great
opportunity during this time of war against terrorism to lead the world toward
the values that will bring lasting peace.... We have no intention of imposing
our culture. But America will always stand firm for the non-negotiable demands
of human dignity, including respect for women."
We have initiated and supported a number of programs aimed at empowering women
in the Western Hemisphere. Here are some examples.
In the Dominican Republic:
USG funds are supporting
an information campaign, conducted by the International Organization for
Migration, for the prevention of trafficking in Dominican women and minors.
Additionally, the project will promote transnational networking and exchange of
information, and provide technical cooperation to the Dominican government on
the development-related legislation.
the Dominican Republic's last elections, USG funds enabled the organization,
recruitment, training and fielding of more than 8,600 Dominican election
monitors. Over half of these monitors were women, ensuring that Dominican
women overall were involved in opening up the channels for citizen participation
USAID-funded "Clara Proyecto" focuses on developing community-level
capacity to assist those living with HIV/AIDS. Among the women who have
been trained to be peer-educators in this program is a young woman whose husband
died of HIV/AIDS, leaving her a widow before the age of 18. The Clara
Proyecto recruited her to participate in a support group to learn how to live a
healthy life. Since then, she has become a peer educator, reaching out
mainly to women to promote healthy life practices.
is sponsoring community-based dispute resolution programs in the DR, many of
which will directly assist Dominican women, particularly rural women and those
involved in domestic violence situations.
USG is also funding materials for a domestic violence project in Bani, which
will provide a location separate from the main police building where women can
make complaints about domestic violence, meet with the district attorney and be
referred for medical care.
Elsewhere in the hemisphere:
Guatemala, USAID -- on an on-going basis -- funds microcredit for small farmers
and micro entrepreneurs, using credit access to rural women, increasing women's
participation in agricultural production and in artisanry.
programs in Colombia fund alternative dispute mechanisms that promote
community-based legal awareness and assistance. They have trained women on
family violence issues and youths on conflict resolution.
Embassies in Guatemala, Bolivia and Brazil have hosted political training
workshops for women. USAID in Guatemala funds civil society programs to
increase participation in democratic process and strengthen capacity of civil
organizations to influence national policy, with a special emphasis on women.
in Peru funds "Promujer" (an association of NGOs promoting women's
issues) that has focused on increasing women's political representation by
training female candidates to be successful.
U.S. Embassies in Mexico and in Canada sent women leaders from business, labor,
politics, civil society, education and technology to attend a workshop in
Toronto in 2000, "Women's Leadership Initiative" sponsored by the
International Foundation for Election Systems and the women's Mercosur forum.
The goal was to identify priority areas of concern for women in NAFTA countries
and to maximize the benefit to women of regional economic integration.
A study from the World Bank confirms that countries that reduce the gender gap
also decrease the levels of corruption and enjoy a faster economic growth.
What it’s your opinion in that respect?
The World Bank study on "Engendering Development Through Gender Equality in
Rights, Resources and Voice" focuses on gender issues and their broad
economic and social implications in developing and transitional countries. The
evidence presented shows societies that discriminate by gender pay a high price
in terms of their ability to develop and reduce poverty. To promote gender
equality, the report proposed a three-part strategy emphasizing institutional
reforms, based on a foundation of equal rights for women and men; policies for
sustained economic development; and active measures to redress persistent gender
The United States recognizes the importance women play in economic development
around the world and the increasingly significant role of women in today's world
as leaders in government and business. The USG also works to reduce and
eliminate the vast inequalities that remain.
Business Administration, for example, works to improve the welfare of
women worldwide by leading or participating in conferences, trade missions
and other efforts that help women better their lives and improve their
of Commerce organizes several hundred-trade events each year,
including activities specifically focused on women business owners. Its
efforts to promote the advancement of women in trade will ensure that
women-owned businesses become competitive players in the world economy.
The Department of Labor's Women's Bureau is exclusively concerned with
serving and promoting the interests of working women. It promotes the
welfare of wage-earning women, improves their working conditions, increases
their efficiency and advances their opportunities for profitable employment. It
also advocates for women, informs women and the public of women workers' rights
and employment issues, and advances equal pay.
& Gender Gap
The U.S. government uses the Internet and technology to inform women about
opportunities and resources available to them. In the United States, many
government agencies provide information on the Internet to help women
entrepreneurs. In addition, the State Department also provides information
via the worldwide web, digital videoconferences, and satellite hookups to women
around the world.
Q.: What initiatives have
the US Government undertaken to promote the ICT's as an empowerment tool for
women to help close the gender gap and what would your suggestions be for
Business Women regarding ICT’s and its use?
The Department of Defense maintains the Air Force Small Business Online at www.selltoairforce.org.
This web site features specific resources for women-owned small businesses,
including online assistance and reports on women-owned, small businesses.
The U.S. Small
Business Administration (SBA) recognizes the vital importance of the
Internet and is using the new technology in a number of ways. The SBA
website provides a vast array of information and links, as well as access to
various databases. Among the most important is the procurement network, PRO-Net,
which links vendors with Federal, state and private procurement officers
The SBA's Online Women's Business Center, www.onlinewbc.gov/,
receives more than a million hits a month from users in 100 countries. It
provides a full business curriculum, online individual counseling, worldwide
networking, links to countless resources, and more. Much of that content
is available in Spanish.
The SBA Small Business Classroom offers short, self-paced, learning modules that
are built from existing SBA and other cosponsored course material and formatted
into easy-to-follow learning templates. Certain courses are offered in
both Spanish and English.
USIA's WORLDNET TV has broadcast a dialogue/call-in program to Latin America on
Internet Access for Women in Business.
The use of computers and the Internet are also vital in women's participation in
the reconstruction of Afghanistan. The Minister of Women's Affairs, Dr.
Sima Samar, has identified computer technology as a key area where U.S.
resources could help Afghan women get the training and education they have been
denied for so long. The U.S.-Afghan Women's Council is undertaking such a
training program this summer for the benefit of Afghan women, their families and
the country as a whole.
April W. Palmerlee
Coordinator, International Women's Issues
U.S. Department of State
Bush Administration appointed April W. Palmerlee as Senior Coordinator for
International Women's Issues at the Department of State in January 2002.
She is responsible for advancing women's human rights and empowerment as
important elements of U.S foreign policy through public diplomacy, domestic and
international exchange programs, and Foreign Service training. The Senior
Coordinator and her Office also develop and utilize partnerships and alliances
with other governments, international institutions, domestic and foreign
nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and the private sector to advance U.S.
joining the administration, Ms. Palmerlee was an executive at the New York-based
Council on Foreign Relations, the largest nonpartisan U.S. foreign policy think
tank. Her most recent position there was as Director of Strategic Relationships
for the Studies Department. Her areas of responsibility included involving
Council members around the world in task forces, study groups, and roundtables;
building support for corporate conferences; reviewing books and papers before
publication; increasing media exposure of Council experts; and overseeing the
think tank website.
the terrorist attacks on September 11, Ms. Palmerlee also served as Project
Director of the Council's Roundtable on Afghanistan. The Roundtable, chaired by
Vice President and Director of Studies Lawrence J. Korb, convened Afghanistan
experts, journalists, aid workers, U.S. policymakers, academics, UN officials,
and others from Kabul to Omaha. The
group reviewed the current situation, assessed past efforts, and formulated
policy recommendations on issues ranging from women's professional and political
participation in a post-Taliban society to securing internal stability to NGO
involvement in relief and recovery efforts.
3 years prior to that, Ms. Palmerlee served as Director of Communications for
the New York and Washington offices of the Council. She led major public
outreach efforts to engage foreign and domestic media in U.S. foreign policy and
the 2000 presidential election. She also edited select publications and
supervised the Council's websites. From
1996-98, Ms. Palmerlee was Council President Leslie H. Gelb's special assistant.
joining the Council, Ms. Palmerlee worked directly for couturier and
philanthropist Oscar de la Renta. In this capacity, she served as his liaison to
key groups, including several women's organizations and publications, as well as
nonprofits and charities. In addition, she has also worked at the Spanish
Institute in New York and the Bank Credit Analyst in Montreal.
Palmerlee has been recognized for her contributions to U.S. foreign policy by
Who in the World
and Who's Who in American Women.
Palmerlee received a Masters in International Affairs from Columbia University's
School of International and Public Affairs, and a Bachelor of Science in Foreign
Service from Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service.
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