International Day of Zero Tolerance to FGM: Working Together To End a Devastating Practice

A Masai girl holds a protest sign during the anti-Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) run in Kilgoris, Kenya, April 21, 2007. [AP File Photo]

About the Author: Melanne Verveer serves as Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues.

On February 6, 2013, in observance of the tenth anniversary of the International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation, I had the privilege of leading a panel discussion at the State Department to help bring global attention to a harmful traditional practice that risks the lives, dignity, and well-being of women and girls in far too many places around the world. 

I was honored to be joined by such dedicated leaders and practitioners as Amina Salum Ali, Ambassador of the African Union to the United States; Dr. Nawal Nour, a Sudanese-American from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston; Bacary Tamba from Tostan, a non-governmental organization (NGO) in Senegal; and Jessie Hexpoor from Hivos, an NGO based in the Netherlands. They each have made, and are continuing to make, extraordinary contributions toward putting an end to female genital mutilation/cutting… more »

President Obama Signs Memorandum Institutionalizing the Office of Global Women’s Issues

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and First Lady Michelle Obama pose for a photo with the recipients of the 2012 International Women of Courage Award, on the 101st Anniversary of International Women's Day, March 8, 2012, at the State Department in Washington. [AP File Photo]

About the Author: Melanne Verveer serves as Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues.

I am happy to share some very good news. On Wednesday, President Obama signed a Presidential Memorandum (“the Memorandum”) that will help ensure that advancing the rights of women and girls remains central to U.S. diplomacy and development around the world — and that these efforts will continue to be led by public servants at the highest levels of the United States government. Secretary Clinton was proud to be at President Obama’s side as he… more »

Closing the Internet Gender Gap

Female Indian students pose with tablet computers in New Delhi, India, Oct. 5, 2011. [AP File Photo]

About the Authors: Melanne Verveer serves as Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues. Ambassador Verveer co-authored this entry with Shelly Esque. This entry appeared first on The Huffington Post.

There is no doubt that over the last decade, the Internet has created a revolution. Never before has information been so widely available or people better connected to one another. The Internet can be a great equalizer. And yet, access to it is not equally distributed. Notably, Internet access for both men and women in North America is nearly five times that of Africa.

… more »

Women, Technology, and International Development

A woman talks on her mobile phone at an election rally in Faizabad, India, Feb. 2, 2012. [AP File Photo]

About the Author: Ann Mei Chang serves as the Senior Advisor for Women and Technology in the Secretary’s Office of Global Women’s Issues.

Over the past decade, the international development community has recognized that investing in women is the most direct and effective way to promote economic growth, peace, and prosperity. Around the world, and more recently in developing countries, we have seen the transformative impact of information and communication technologies (ICTs), particularly mobile phones and the Internet. The question remains, what might be possible when we put these two powerful forces together by investing in women and ICTs in low-to-medium income countries?

This week, the U.S. Secretary of State’s Office of Global Women’s Issues and UN Women are convening the first International Forum on Women, ICT, and Development (WICTAD) in Washington DC,… more »

Inaugural Caribbean Dialogue on Rule of Law and Gender-Based Violence: A Catalyst for Action

Children play in Kingston, Jamaica, May 30, 2010. [AP File Photo]

About the Author: Anita Botti serves as Chief of Staff and Principal Deputy in the Secretary’s Office of Global Women’s Issues.

On the heels of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence (GBV), which ran from November 25 through December 10, the United States engaged with regional partners to spur action against GBV within our own hemisphere. Gender-based violence is a global epidemic that has no boundaries. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, every one of the Caribbean islands has a sexual violence rate that is higher than the world average.

From December 11 to 13, I had the privilege of being part of the first Caribbean Dialogue on Rule of Law and Gender-Based Violence, co-hosted by the Department of State and Florida International University (FIU) in Miami. Approximately 80 representatives from 12 countries of the… more »

Eleven Words

Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues Melanne Verveer speaks at a meeting with members of Chinese womens groups. The meeting was hosted by Mary Kay Huntsman, wife of the U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman, in Beijing, China, on May 24, 2010. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]

About the Author: Melanne Verveer serves as Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues.

As we commemorate International Human Rights Day today, December 10, I can’t help but recall the moment 17 years ago in Beijing when then-First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton proclaimed, “Women’s rights are human rights and human rights are women’s rights.”

Today, for many of us, these 11 words may seem obvious, even instinctive. But in 1995, they were a revelation. I remember being among the delegates at the Fourth World Conference on Women, and feeling a current of excitement wash across the room. It was perhaps one of the first times the world had heard a person of global stature assert at a global forum in such unequivocal terms that women’s rights and human rights were one and the same.

Today, in my official travels, I still meet women all over the world who tell me how those eleven words nearly two decades ago changed their lives. They helped raise the… more »

During the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence, Working Together To End a Global Scourge

Women hold hands as they take part in a rally in Allahbad, India, Dec. 20, 2007. [AP File Photo]

About the Author: Melanne Verveer serves as Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues.

On November 25, the world observed the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. We are now in the “16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence,” which links November 25 to International Human Rights Day on December 10, recognizing the connection between women’s rights and human rights. These 16 Days offer all of us an opportunity to renew the commitment to ending violence against women and girls in all its forms.

Promoting the status of women and girls is not just a moral imperative but a strategic one; it is, in essence, a strategy for a smarter foreign policy. Strengthening the prevention of and response to gender-based violence is of vital importance, because no country can achieve peace and prosperity if half of its population is deprived of reaching its full potential. As Secretary Clinton has so often said, women are drivers of economic… more »

Since 2006, the State Department and FORTUNE have teamed up with Vital Voices to build on our annual Global Mentorship Partnership to expand the network of women — and men — who use mentorship to empower others.

Putting Our Best Global Foot Forward To Empower Women


About the Author: Chris Miner serves as Managing Director of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs Professional and Cultural Exchanges at the U.S. Department of State.

This week, in more than 18 countries around the world, women will come together with a broad coalition of supporters in their communities to participate in the Vital Voices Mentoring Walks, a global effort to raise awareness on the positive power of mentorship.

Since 2006, the State Department and FORTUNE have teamed up with Vital Voices to build on our annual Global Mentorship Partnership to expand the network of women — and men — who use mentorship to empower others. In fact, the mentoring walks started when founder and former CEO of Oxygen Media Geraldine Layborne’s schedule didn’t allow her to meet with the scores of young women who sought her advice. Instead of rejecting meeting requests, she opened her morning walks each day in New York City as a gateway for her to connect with these young women. Today, these walks have spread across the United States and throughout… more »

Women Moving Forward in Guatemala

Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues Melanne Verveer appears at a Women Moving Forward event in Guatemala, October 19, 2012. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]

About the Author: Kathleen Guerra serves as Cultural Affairs Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala.

As diplomats, one of our most important functions is to get to know the people of our host country. What do they think about what’s happening in the world? How do they view the critical issues of the day in their country? And what is their opinion on the United States?

Here in Guatemala, as Cultural Affairs Officer, I am lucky to have a job that allows me to do just that. I travel to many remote sites around the country, to check up on our English teaching programs or to visit an archaeological site we support with a grant from the Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation. I meet a wide variety of people from all over Guatemala: young, old, rural, urban, rich, poor, male, female. I talk to them, and I learn a lot about their lives.

But some things, like gender-based violence, I will never understand. This issue was central in a visit last Friday by Ambassador-at-Large… more »