Thursday, January 28, 2010

Cursed for fighting FGM

Locals like Ms Josephine Kulea, who joined the war against underage marriage and female circumcision risk being cursed by conservative village elders, who view them as enemies of culture.

Three years ago elders elders invoked the Ldeketa, a terrible curse reserved for cultural outlaws. “They told my mother to get ready to bury me, that after the curse I was as good as dead,” says the 28-year-old registered nurse.

But the nurse says she does not mind being cursed. Not as long as she snatches as many little girls as possible from the tight grip of harmful traditions like female circumcision and early marriages.

In her Samburu community, elders wield enormous power over the lives of ordinary villagers — from deciding who marries who to quietly settling life and death disputes like rape, defilement and incest.

In their court, many young men get away with rape and defilement for as little as one cow! Ms Mulea says the old men remain the greatest enemy of the Samburu child.

“Right now there is a 10-year-old girl Class Four girl who the elders want married. The elders do not realise that it is illegal,” says Ms Mulea. The police and some provincial administrators, who have failed to act on reported cases of female circumcision and early marriages are the other big enemies of the children.

Gender minister Esther Murugi says her office is seriously understaffed and under-equipped. The Children’s Department, she says, is operating with half the required staff. Reaching such cases as Itoms is an uphill task: the department lacks enough vehicles.


Ambassador Lucy .s .Mashua President of Mashua's voice for the voiceless International
Assisting refugees in the US and representation in advocasy
The Global Ambassador for fighting Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and standing up for Women’s Rights.
And the Chairperson of a worldwide campaign against FGM.

4-year-old bride for price of beaded necklace. MY CULTURE

When I tell our culture is twisted and violation of children rights and women are the order of the day...believe me and nothing is done as a female whether young as four are sold and become a property or a sex toy.. and that is why am begging of a massive intervention from the West World leaders please save Women and Children of Africa if you really Care,....Murder and harmful cult are killing and destroying voiceless innocent lives and you can do something!
Story by Nation Media group retold by Lucy Mashua

In a remote part of Samburu, four-year-olds are neither attending school nor have they an inkling of video and computer games that their urban counterparts take so much for granted.In the villages of Kipsing location, Ol Donyiro Division, 100 kilometres from Isiolo Town, four-year-old Itoms is on the run; first from her own parents, who want her circumcised before marrying her off for 10 cattle, and from Samburu morans (Maasai warriors), who for a beaded necklace called saen, are free to have sex with a girl barely out of her diapers.

Itoms turns five this year. Yet, according to Samburu tradition, she is old enough to fetch bride-price for her father and become a wife to a man seven times her age. She had already been booked for sex and eventual marriage to a 27-year-old Moran, in a common ritual called Aisho saen (wearing a necklace).

But a local child rights activist got wind of it thanks to local assistant chief, Henry Lesokoyo, and whisked her away from home. Little Itoms has no idea what the man who “booked” her looks like, and is crying to go back home.

Samburu moran

In the beading ritual, Samburu morans identify little girls as brides by making them wear a beaded necklace. Child rights activists in Samburu say that beading can happen any time a moran meets a girl, irrespective of her age. “If he meets the girl out in the field tending animals, and decides, ‘this one will be my bride’, all a moran has to do is put the necklace on her,” says Ms Josephine Kulea, a child rights activist in Isiolo.

The morans do not even have to consult the girl’s parents, Ms Kulea says. Once the girl wears the first bead, she is as good as married to the moran. Her parents, on noticing the necklace, immediately start making preparations to have her circumcised, in readiness for marriage.

During beading, morans are free to have sex with the innocent girls, many of whom are too young to recognise their supposed husbands, let alone attend to affairs of their matrimonial duties. And once themoran graduates to an age-group that allows him to marry, he simply pays 10 cattle to the girl’s father, before whisking the girl away to the marriage bed, no matter her age.

Child activists say this tradition has ruined the lives of many girls in Samburu, where decision-making is vested in elders. Girls, unlike boys, do not attend school, despite free primary education. “He is free to do with her as he wills, she belongs to him, and him alone,” Ms Kulea says.

As a result, an unknown number of girls end up getting pregnant as early as 12 years. Many die in the process, Ms Kulea says. “Last year we lost a 12-year-old who was forced out of school to get married, but she was too young to deliver her baby. She died together with the baby.”

Although there are no official figures, officers in the region say the number of children being rescued from early marriages and female genital mutilation is huge. This is mostly between November and January, the early marriage and FGM season among the Samburu, according to Children’s Department officers. Children’s homes in Isiolo and Nanyuki, which serve Samburu and Maasai, are packed with fleeing children at this time.

“Even as we speak, it (FGM and early marriages) is still going on,’’ says Mr Enock Manua, a children’s officer in Nanyuki. At one station alone, officers have been rescuing at least 10 girls a month since November. But rescuing them is one thing, and finding a place for them is quite another. By the time of going to press, 10 girls aged four to 12 years had been rescued from the heartland of Samburu and were stranded in Nanyuki, almost 100km away from their home village, Kipsing.

There is no children’s home to shelter them in Isiolo and the local officer had to refer them to Nanyuki. Officials made frantic calls to Nyeri and Meru, to get any children’s home with vacancies for the 10, to no avail. “They are telling us that they are packed,” said Mr Enoch Manua, a children’s officer in Nanyuki. Meanwhile, little Itoms, too young to understand what’s going on in her life, sobs quietly, wondering why she cannot go back home.

Ambassador Lucy .s .Mashua President of Mashua's voice for the voiceless International
Assisting refugees in the US and representation in advocasy
The Global Ambassador for fighting Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and standing up for Women’s Rights.
And the Chairperson of a worldwide campaign against FGM.

State ponders teacher’s sex trial options!! KENYA

Story done and researched by Nation Media group...and blogged by Mashua voice for the voiceless.

The government may appoint a special prosecutor to try a primary school headteacher in Makueni District who is accused of sexually molesting young girls under his charge.

State counsel Moses O’Mirera said the case, which has been highlighted in the media, has aroused public interest and the best way out was to get an impartial prosecutor.

“There have been accusations and counter-accusations targeting the police and education officials. I think the best way out is for the matter to be handled by a special prosecutor,” Mr O’Mirera wrote to the Makueni CID boss.


Mr O’mirera said the state was only aware of a criminal case involving the schoolhead, Mr Andrew Kithusi, that occurred last year.

The Nation confirmed that the AG has directed the Machakos State Law office to recall and urgently forward the file to Nairobi.

The AG has also ordered investigations into the alleged defilement of the other girls.

my thoughts I wonder who is representing the young girls? old grown men in authority defiles young helpless girls and they are treated special? what is the need to transfer the case fro Machakos to Nairobi? and the police officers who defiled the young girls still have their jobs! this makes me sick! poor babies...why do rapists keep getting away? where is the value of females defiled raped from childhood they grow thinking less of themselves! AG of Kenya FIRE ALL THE POLICE INVOLVED AND THE TEACHERS PUT THEM AWAY BEHIND BARS FOR LIFE!

Ambassador Lucy .s .Mashua President of Mashua's voice for the voiceless International

Assisting refugees in the US and representation in advocasy
The Global Ambassador for fighting Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and standing up for Women’s Rights.
And the Chairperson of a worldwide campaign against FGM.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Chief(local government) gets 10 years for sexual assault on orphan in Kenya.

Story investigated and done by Nation Newspaper ,

An assistant chief was on Friday sentenced to 10 years in prison for sexually assaulting an orphaned girl.

David Ngondu Malombe of Ndatani sub-location in Mutomo District was not given the option of a fine by Mutomo resident magistrate Samuel Mutai.

The administrator, who faced two charges, had impregnated the 15-year-old girl and sneaked her out of the area to cover up defilement claims.

However, the police found the Standard Eight girl in Jipe village, Taveta District, after the Saturday Nation exposed her tribulations early last year.

The first charge was that on diverse dates in November 2008, Malombe defiled the girl at Ndatani. He also faced an alternative charge of indecently assaulting the minor.

Drop out

The court relied heavily on the evidence of the victim who narrated how she was persuaded to drop out of school by the assistant chief and go into hiding until she gave birth.

The magistrate acquitted the administrator on the first defilement charge under Section 215 of the Criminal procedure code due to lack of adequate evidence but convicted him on the second charge.

The prosecution produced several witnesses, including the orphan’s maternal uncle and her primary school headteacher.

My thoughts

It comes as no surprise to me than young girls run to their local government officials for help only this men turn on them and destroys their lives, if children cannot be protected by their own government who can? I remember the untouchables....who only get 10 years!

A chief impregnating an orphan who is a monor! Jesus, only 10 years??? Gosh! she has dropped from school, she has a baby, she is defiled and who knows, infected with a disease..... a case of buying justice. This chief should life imprisonment. period. He used his position to do all this. where are Kenyan human rights I saw demonstrating because of a terrorist detained?

The Global Ambassador for fighting Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and standing up for Women’s Rights.
And the Global Chairperson of a worldwide campaign against FGM.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

FGM GOES TO DAVOS.... This means life to so many!Thanks for your vote by Lucy Mashua

I can't express the joy I felt when I heard that Female Genital Mutilation will be tabled in DAVOS to the world leaders by Julia who asked me for my support to represent us in Davos,
As a survivor I endorsed her ....and asked my fans to vote and they voted....and today Davos announced that our votes spoke....and we did it...this means a lot to A survivor! Am going to see to that the world leaders implement and act on the Global Ambassador for fighting FGM and standing for Women rights this is my promise to you! Julia congratulations!!!!

Ambassador Lucy .s .Mashua President of Mashua's voice for the voiceless International
Assisting refugees in the US and representation in advocasy
The Global Ambassador for fighting Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and standing up for Women’s Rights.
And the Chairperson of a worldwide campaign against FGM.


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Human trafficking and modern slavery and sex slavery lure Kenyan women to middle East(Saudi throws Kenyan maid out of top floor window)

Saudi throws Kenyan maid out of top floor window ..

A Kenyan woman is accusing her Saudi employer of throwing her out of a third floor window, breaking her legs and hands. Another maid, just rescued by relatives, said she had to live on dog food because her employers neither fed her nor allowed her out of the house.

Ms Fatma Athman, of Kisauni, Mombasa, returned to the country last week with broken limbs and stories of near-slavery in Saudi Arabia where she was employed as a maid last May. She was lucky, she said, she landed in a swimming pool and not on the pavement. Now she is dependent on others to help her even with the simplest of chores.

“I and one of my friends were asked by Saudis who visited Kenya eight months ago to go with them. We organised everything through the Kenyan embassy — our agent — and we got documents to travel to the Middle East on May 2 last year,” she said. On arrival, she said, she was discriminated against and required to work 22 hours a day.

She also says she would be subjected to a torrent of abuse for the slightest mistake. “I used to sleep for only two hours and I ate left-overs. That was really slavery,” she said in tears. Susan Wanjiku, 29, has a story of similar mistreatment. The mother of two was promised a salary of Sh16,000(215$) to work as a maid in Jeddah. “I thought I would make money and come back home when I had enough to sustain me and my children,” she said during an interview at Nation Centre at the weekend.

On arrival in Jeddah, she was taken to her new place of work and instructed to immediately start work. “I was shown 16 rooms to clean,” she said. Known as Shakala (a house help in Arabic), her work started at 3am and ended at 11pm. This was her daily routine for the three months she was in Jeddah.

“I was to be joined by my husband who had been promised a driver’s job, but I kept praying that he changes his mind,” she said. “Luckily he did. He did not have money and this helped... We could have both suffered.” Ms Alice Wakio, a school dropout from Gatanga in Kenya's Central Province, said that she lived on dog food because her employer neither fed her nor let her out of the house.

“There is no food there. They tell us to wait for them to eat first then they give us the leftovers,” said Alice. On days when there were no leftovers, she would turn to dog food. “Their children insult us. We were never let out of the house and for the three months I was there (in Jeddah), I did not see the sun. I only saw it when I landed in Nairobi. I fainted on alighting,” she said.

Both Susan and Alice were recruited by an agent they identified as Margaret, whom they said is based at the Saudi embassy in Nairobi. They were charged Sh15,000(200 $) placement fees. When the Nation called the agent, she said she had a few vacancies. “You can come now with the money,” she said. “We have few vacancies left.”

She hang up

She hang up when we asked whether she was aware that some of the maids she got jobs were stranded in Saudi Arabia. The maids said there are as many as 100 young Kenyan women living in the streets of Jeddah after being thrown out.

On Monday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed that “a number of Kenyans” were stranded in Saudi Arabia. Susan and Alice said they were rescued by relatives back home who raised their air fare. Their dreams of a well-paying job, they said, was just a mirage. “It’s bad there. Don’t be cheated,” they said of the extravagant promises of good jobs in Middle East.

Fatma claimed the children of her employer also sexually exploited her. She said she worked for five months, but was paid for only one. She was given no explanation. On the day her employer pushed her out the window, she said she was hanging clothes on the line. “I heard my employer saying ‘you are better off dead, you are better dead’”.

She plunged into the pool three floors down and was rescued by the police. After a week in hospital, she was deported. “I left Saudi Arabia without luggage, not even my clothes. What I took is the few drugs I was given at the hospital.”

Her father, Mr Athman Ali, is demanding that the Foreign Affairs ministry and the Kenyan Embassy in Saudi Arabia seek justice for his daughter. The stories of mistreatment come just days after two families revealed that their daughters were being held in Saudi deportation centres after they differed with their employers. The two, Ms Esha Noor and Fatuma Shabira, have been at the centre for seven weeks after the Kenyan embassy failed to process their documents to travel back home.

Ministry officials said about 3,000 women from Kenya are currently in Saudi Arabia. They said both the embassy in Saudi Arabia and the ministry had received complaints from Kenyan maids. “I can confirm to you that we have received such claims. We are receiving claims of unpaid wages, mistreatment and so far we have helped bring back a few,” said an officers by telephone.

The ministry’s Middle East director Ken Vikisia said the ministry was working to repatriate those being mistreated. “We have received the complaints from the two families, and we have ordered our diplomats to work on the issue,” he said. He said several people have been lured to Saudi Arabia “only to be turned into slaves when they get there.”

This is what I have to say:Ooh God help me!!!!!

The hate towards women in this particular culture is beyond pathetic! not forgetting to mention the hate towards black muslims (shakala), what do you think caused and is causing the genocide in Dafur?(Njanjawid) just this discrimination and treating women like sub human or children of a lesser God? if there is only one God then why mistreat others? why would you throw another human being out of a window? this takes me back to someone very close (a woman) left paralized because someone saw it right to throw her out of a balcony....What kind of a belief is this? the 3000 Kenyan women under slavery in Saudi Arabia their transport should be facilitated by the Kenya Government and the Saudi Arabia Embassy in Nairobi Kenya as you processed their travel document and took money from this young women!! SHAME ON YOU Kenyan Government and Saudi Arabia Embassy Especially you Margaret selling your own to slavery This story just reflects what it means to be Kenyan. Kenyans are slaves both at home and abroad, but Kenyans are in denial and will not admit to it. Kenyans are so busy tearing each other down due to tribal bais, but as the story rightly reveals slavery knows no tribe especially abroad. Kenyans wake up and smell the coffee! Do you have no pride?, we also want justice for all the girls even I speak for those forced into prostitution! The Kenyan Embassy in Saudi Arabia should be given an ultimatum either work or close! how can you live with yourself after treating another human being like this? ONLY GOD AND THE CRY OF THE OPPRESSED WILL JUDGE YOU! as you read history you will realize that Arabs were the first known slave owners.

Parting shot: Kenyans/Africans need to wake and realise not every foreigner/humanitarian who comes to Kenya/Africa and flashes smiles and compassion(fake) have goodwill for the country/continent or the people.Abuse of Kenyans by Saudi people is well documented even by the US government and the Kenya Embassy in the US.Kenyans need to stop going to Saudi Arabia.Of course nothing will happen to the Saudis or Indian who mistreat Kenyans in their own soil. be smart we are writing a petition for the 3000 Kenyan girls and women living on the streets to be taken home immediately and every other African countries speak up check on your people...and justice be served!

Ambassador Lucy .s .Mashua President of Mashua's voice for the voiceless International

Assisting refugees in the US and representation in advocasy
The Global Ambassador for fighting Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and standing up for Women’s Rights.
And the Chairperson of a worldwide campaign against FGM.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Remarks on the 15th Anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
January 8, 2010

Thank you very much. (Applause.) Thank you all. Thank you. Thank you all very much. My goodness, thank you. Wow, this is a wonderful occasion. Several of us were quite nervous when we saw the snow start last night, so I’m delighted the sun is out and shining on all of you here as we gather for this commemoration of the 15th anniversary of the groundbreaking gathering and agreement in Cairo.
When I think about that and the thousands of people who were part of it who came together to declare with one voice that reproductive healthcare is critical to the health of women, and that women’s health is essential to the prosperity and opportunity of all, to the stability of families and communities, and the sustainability and development of nations, it makes me nostalgic for conferences that are held that actually produce results – (laughter) – and give us a framework for moving forward. There is no doubt in my mind that the work that was done and the commitments that were made in Cairo are still really the bulwark of what we intend to be doing and are expected to do on behalf of women and girls.
The year 2015 is the target year. Part of the reason we wanted to have this commemoration is not only to look backwards, but to look forward. What is it we will do between now and 2015? Remember what was expected of us. All governments will make access to reproductive healthcare and family planning services a basic right. We will dramatically reduce infant, child, and maternal mortality. We will open the doors of education to all citizens, but especially to girls and women.
It is somewhat hard to believe in retrospect that Cairo was the first ever global forum that recognized the connection between women’s health, the quality of women’s lives, and human progress on a broader scale. So I am delighted to join you in marking this landmark event, but more importantly, to asking you to join with us in rededicating ourselves to the goals that we embraced 15 years ago. They remain critical and they remain unfilled.
I’ve had the honor and privilege as I look around this audience of knowing many of you, some of you for a very long time. And I know how committed many of you have been and continue to be. We have made measurable progress since 1994 in improving the health and the lives of women and children, especially girls. For example, the use of modern contraceptives worldwide has increased from under 10 percent in the 1960s to 43 percent in 2008. We have greater access to neo-natal care, including medicines that prevent the spread of HIV from mother to child. We’ve significantly increased child survival rates. The number of girls enrolled in schools around the world has gone up. And we’ve come closer to a less measurable but still critical goal: The integration of gender into a range of global programs, including our efforts through the United Nations to bring an end to sexual and gender-based violence in places of conflict.
However, vast inequities remain. Too often, still today in 2010, women and girls bear the burdens of regional and global crises, whether it’s an economic downturn or climate change or political instability. They still are the majority of the world’s poor, unschooled, unhealthy, and underfed. They are rarely the cause of violent consequences, but increasingly – of violent conflicts, but increasingly they bear the consequences of such conflicts. We’ve seen that from the Congo to Bosnia to Burma. And 15 years after the Cairo conference, far too many women still have little or no access to reproductive health services, including family planning and maternal healthcare.
When we look at this deficit in healthcare for women, we can see what it means in terms of lost productivity, lost resources, and lost lives. Nearly half the women in the developing world deliver their babies without a nurse, a midwife, a doctor, or access to crucial medical care. Global rates of maternal mortality remain perilously high; one woman dies every minute of every day in pregnancy or childbirth, and for every woman who dies, another 20 suffer from injury, infection, or disease every minute.
More than 215 million women worldwide lack access to the modern forms of contraception, and this contributes to the nearly 20 million unsafe abortions that take place very year. Sexually transmitted diseases, of course including, but not limited to, HIV and AIDS, claim millions of lives annually among women. Fistula destroys the lives of millions, and it is often the result of pregnancies that occur when a girl is too young. An estimated 70 million – that is 70 million women and girls worldwide – have been subjected to female genital cutting, a procedure that is not only painful and traumatic but is also the source of infections and increased risks of injury during childbirth.
Now, as those of us gathered in the Ben Franklin Room on the eight floor of the State Department know very well, the topic of reproductive health is subject to a great deal of debate. But I think we should all agree that these numbers are not only grim, but after 15 years, they are intolerable. For if we believe that human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights, then we cannot accept the ongoing marginalization of half the world’s population. We cannot accept it morally, politically, socially, or economically. (Applause)
So we’re here today to examine the distance that remains to be traveled before the world fully realizes the ICPD goals. This is a journey that the Obama Administration and the United States Government will travel with you. But we need to travel quickly, because we only have five years to meet our original goals.
For the health statistics that I just mentioned point to a broader impact. There’s a direct connection between a woman’s ability to plan her family, space her pregnancies, and give birth safely, and her ability to get an education, work outside the home, support her family, and participate fully in the life of her community.
When a girl becomes a mother before she becomes literate, when a woman gives birth alone and is left with a permanent disability, when a mother toils daily to feed her large family but cannot convince her husband to agree to contraception, these struggles represent suffering that can and should be avoided. They represent potential that goes unfulfilled. And they also represent an opportunity to extend critical help to women worldwide and the children who depend on them.
Investing in the health of women, adolescents, and girls is not only the right thing to do; it is also the smart thing to do. That is why we are integrating women’s issues as key elements of our foreign policy agenda and in, especially, our Global Health Initiative and our Global Food Security Initiative. That is why we saw the first appointment of an ambassador for global women issues, and it didn’t take me long to decide who should fill that position. It is why we are launching women’s entrepreneurial efforts through Pathways to Prosperity in Latin America, to ensure that prosperity is spread more broadly, including to women. It is why we are working with religious leaders in Afghanistan and Pakistan to increase access to information about family planning and preventive healthcare.
We are doing all of these things because we have seen that when women and girls have the tools to stay healthy and the opportunity to contribute to their families’ well-being, they flourish and so do the people around them.
Consider this one story from Uganda, where USAID works with the International Planned Parenthood Federation to provide reproductive health services, education, and skills training to low-income women. Among their clients are a group of teenage girls who call themselves the “Moonlight Stars.” Their parents are dead, leaving them the sole providers for their younger brothers and sisters, without any other options, they were working as prostitutes. Through this USAID-funded program, they gained access to condoms and comprehensive sex education to protect themselves from disease and pregnancy. They also began taking classes in sewing and knitting and other kinds of skills that could be used to help support their siblings without endangering their physical or emotional well-being. And thanks to this job training and the support that accompanied it, many of the Moonlight Stars have left prostitution behind and embarked on a new path of opportunity for themselves and their families.
While investing in women lifts many lives, the inverse is also true. In societies where women’s rights and roles are denied, girls are forbidden from attending school or they pay a very heavy price to try to do so. Few have the right to decide whether or when to get married or become mothers. Poverty, political oppression, and even violent extremism often follow.
Maternal and child health are particularly important indicators of broader progress. In recent years, we’ve learned more about the conditions that accompany political unrest. It turns out that one of the most constant predictors for political upheaval is the rate of infant mortality. In places where the rate of infant mortality is high, the quality of life is low because investment in and access to healthcare are often out of reach. And that breeds the kind of frustration, hopelessness, and anger that we’ve seen. We also know that child mortality is closely connected with maternal mortality. When a mother dies, her children are at much greater risk of dying as well.
These struggles can’t be separated, and neither can their solutions. In the Obama Administration, we are convinced of the value of investing in women and girls, and we understand there is a direct line between a woman’s reproductive health and her ability to lead a productive, fulfilling life. And therefore, we believe investing in the potential of women and girls is the smartest investment we can make. It is connected to every problem on anyone’s mind around the world today. (Applause.)
So we are rededicating ourselves to the global efforts to improve reproductive health for women and girls. Under the leadership of this Administration, we are committed to meeting the Cairo goals. We’re committed to working in partnership with all of you. One of President Obama’s first actions in office was to overturn the Mexico City policy, which greatly limited our ability to fund family planning programs. (Applause.)
We have pledged new funding, new programs, and a renewed commitment to achieve Millennium Development Goal Five, namely a [three-fourths] reduction in global maternal mortality, and universal access to reproductive healthcare. This goal is, again, critical to and interconnected with every other millennium development goal. But the world has made less progress toward fulfilling that goal than any other.
This year, the United States renewed funding of reproductive healthcare through the United Nations Population Fund, and more funding is on the way. (Applause.) The U.S. Congress recently appropriated more than $648 million in foreign assistance to family planning and reproductive health programs worldwide. That’s the largest allocation in more than a decade – since we last had a Democratic president, I might add. (Applause.)
In addition to new funding, we’ve launched a new program that will be the centerpiece of our foreign policy, the Global Health Initiative, which commits us to spending $63 billion over six years to improve global health by investing in efforts to reduce maternal and child mortality, prevent millions of unintended pregnancies, and avert millions of new HIV infections, among other goals. This initiative will employ a new approach to fighting disease and promoting health. It will address interrelated health challenges together, for example, by integrating family planning, maternal health services, and HIV/AIDS screening and treatment, so that women receiving reproductive care will also receive HIV counseling, and will be referred to an HIV clinic if they need one.
We’re now seeing the rise of the largest youth generation in the history of the world. They need and deserve to know how to stay healthy, and through this initiative, we will be providing critical information to them. The Global Health Initiative will also focus on helping countries strengthen their own health systems. We want to build sustainable health systems in countries. And it will ensure that all of our global health programs, including nutrition, malaria, TB, HIV/AIDS are designed to meet the needs of women and girls, including by taking into account the many social and economic factors that have an impact on their health from sexual coercion to domestic violence to pervasive gender inequities.
You know that HIV/AIDS is now morphing into a women’s disease, and increasingly younger and younger women in many, many poor countries are infected. We know that expanding access to contraception helps only if women are empowered to use it, that protecting oneself from HIV is harder when one’s life depends on staying in a man’s good favor, and that all the prenatal care in the world won’t protect a mother and child from an abusive home. Promoting women’s health and children’s health means improving the quality of their lives on many levels, and it also means reaching out to men and boys to encourage them to become advocates and allies.
So we have our work cut out for us, but we have an excellent roadmap in the Cairo program of action and a worthy target in the Millennium Development Goal Number Five. And we’re going to need your help. In everything that we’re doing in the Department and at USAID, we are injecting the needs and the roles of women and girls. We’re asking for how women and girls can play more of a role in their societies, be more involved in peacemaking and peacekeeping, assist in mitigating against and preventing climate change. Just across the board, we are making it clear that there has to be special attention paid to the needs of women and girls. It’s in America’s national security interests to do so.
I want to close with the story of one woman whose life was transformed by the work that the people in this room do every single day. Caroline Ditina is a young woman from the Democratic Republic of Congo who for years endured the shame and ostracism caused by obstetric fistula. Eventually, she found her way to a clinic supported by the UN Population Fund, and she finally received the surgery, care, and emotional support she needed to heal. Then she started speaking out about her experience to fight the stigma and to let other women know that even in isolated places, treatment is possible.
Her message has traveled the world. Two years ago, she came to Washington and urged members of Congress to support maternal health programs worldwide. And today, the United States is proud once again to support the work of the UN Population Fund. But one advocate, even one with such passion and commitment, can only do so much. Every woman everywhere deserves high-quality care not only at her most vulnerable hour, but at every single stage of life. That’s our goal and that’s our responsibility.
It is also a matter of simple equity and fairness. I’ve been in many places in many parts of the world where the rich, the educated, the well off, the connected, the powerful, the elite had access to every single form of healthcare. And yet it was denied – denied by law, denied by culture, denied by taboo, denied by regulation, denied by resources to the vast majority of women in the same societies. That is unacceptable.
So part of what we need to do is not only provide services to those who need them, but to change the minds and attitudes of those who can be responsible for delivering those services in countries around the world. I have said in many different settings on, I guess, every continent except Antarctica that the rights that women who have a position in society are able to command cannot, therefore, be denied to the women who live down the street or care for their children or clean their homes or plant their crops, and that we have to do a better job of making the equity argument on behalf of girls and women, and particularly on behalf of the Cairo agenda.
I’m very optimistic and very committed that we can do this together, and I am very grateful for what so many of you have done for so many years. You have ridden the ups and you have survived the downs. You have worked in favorable political environments and unfavorable ones. You have seen the Mexico City policy come and go, and you have stayed true. You’ve stayed true to your commitment, your passion, your belief that every single child in this country – boy or girl – deserves a chance to live up to his or her God-given potential.
I just want to urge that we do not grow weary. I don’t about you, but sometimes it can seem a little bit hard to take. It is also self-evident; it seems so obvious to the rest of us that this needs to be done, and we keep encountering obstacles of every shape and size. But please, stay with us and let’s try to create institutional and structural change that does not get wiped away when the political winds blow. Let’s try to create markets for these goods and ways of funding them and educational and instructional programs along with our commitment to serve that will give women everywhere a chance to take their own lives and their own futures into their own hands.
It is now my great pleasure – you’ve met two of my wonderful team members. I want to introduce two more whom I see. One is Raj Shah, Dr. Raj Shah, our new superb Administrator of USAID. (Applause.) Raj, come here. Come here, Raj. (Applause.)
We want you to get to meet him if you don’t know him. We want you to support him as he makes the changes that are necessary to put USAID back in the forefront of world development agencies.
And now it’s my honor to introduce our Under Secretary Maria Otero. And maybe, Maria, you and Raj could say a few words to close out the program. (Applause.)

From a survivors perspective
Things that strike me..Our Secretary of state saw that and acknowledge
1.The Cairo convention is one of many United Nations unkept promises! I wish she would have mentioned that Egypt is among the leading countries performing FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION, where 98% women have undergone FGM!
2. She asked people to embrace and rededicate the commitment they promised 15 years ago to treat women and children's as humans! she technically said that it was all talks I loved her in this one."It is somewhat hard to believe in retrospect that Cairo was the first ever global forum that recognized the connection between women’s health, the quality of women’s lives, and human progress on a broader scale"
3.She also said "Nearly half the women in the developing world deliver their babies without a nurse, a midwife, a doctor, or access to crucial medical care. Global rates of maternal mortality remain perilously high; one woman dies every minute of every day in pregnancy or childbirth, and for every woman who dies, another 20 suffer from injury, infection, or disease every minute. " Oops our secretary of state to mention over 6000 women and girls undergo forcibly FGM every day and over 3,000,000 yearly...It is my pleasure to remind her as I know she will join us in this fight to end FGM,
4.My bad she did mention about FGM but she was wrong on the statistics "An estimated 70 million – that is 70 million women and girls worldwide – have been subjected to female genital cutting, a procedure that is not only painful and traumatic but is also the source of infections and increased risks of injury during childbirth. " it is over 200 million Secretary Clinton have undergone the female genital mutilation not cuttings..we were mutilated and are still mutilated... modern sexual slavery! please help,
5.Now this is where she rocked me when she said "For if we believe that human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights, then we cannot accept the ongoing marginalization of half the world’s population. We cannot accept it morally, politically, socially, or economically. (Applause)"
My plea to to Secretary Clinton
The war against FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION is preventable and can be Worn...kindly work with survivors world wide that are speaking out we know our people and community and also their mentality and way of doing things...and am right here when you need me....FGM is not cultural, religion or race issue it is crime against women and girls and that violets our women human rights! join in our fight we the global people are willing to work with you and reach people on the ground where you cannot reach, soon MASHUA AGAINST FGM is becoming an international foundation dedicated to eradicate FGM, Working hand in hand with my Congress Woman Eddie Bernice JohnsonSe kindly join us as we say GLOBAL ZERO TOLERANCE FOR FGM!!!
Ambassador Lucy .s .Mashua President of Mashua's voice for the voiceless International
Assisting refugees in the US and representation in advocasy
The Global Ambassador for fighting Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and standing up for Women’s Rights.
And the Chairperson of a worldwide campaign against FGM.