Small Grants: Huge Impact

Three WEAmericas Small Grants awardees (from left) -- Founder and President of Comunidades de la Tierra Maria Pachecho (Guatemala), Board Member of Women Entrepreneurs Network Caribbean Yaneek Page (Caribbean), D.C. Director of Fundación Paraguaya Mary Liz Kehler (Paraguay) -- pose for a photograph at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., February 4, 2013. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]

About the Author: Roberta S. Jacobson serves as Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs.

Small grants: huge impact. That was the recurring theme of an inspiring event Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues Melanne Verveer hosted earlier this week at the Department of State. As part of the WEAmericas initiative to support economic empowerment for women-owned businesses in the Western Hemisphere, we announced 25 small grants for organizations in 15 Latin American and Caribbean countries, as well as two regional projects. The Walmart Foundation and the Secretary of State’s International Fund for Women and Girls sponsored the grants.

We… more »

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 »

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 »

War’s Silent Scourge: Sexual Violence Against Women

A displaced Syrian woman covers her face with a scarf in a school, where almost 15 families from Homs are living, in Souran, Syria, October 1, 2012. [AP File Photo]

In a recent opinion piece for The Daily Beast, Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues Melanne Verveer and Ambassador Peter Westmacott, the U.K.’s Ambassador to the United States, addressed the use of sexual assault as a weapon. The text of their opinion piece, which appeared on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, appears below.

"Nearly 40,000 people have died already in Syria’s civil war, and close to 100 are still being killed each day. Homes, hospitals, water infrastructure, and sanitation systems have been destroyed. But one element of this ongoing brutality has been largely overlooked in the media: the appalling sexual violence being visited on the Syrian people by government and militia forces. Such use of sexual violence as a tactic…more »

Ambassador Verveer Announces Grants to Address Gender-Based Violence as Part of the Global HIV Response

Media Note
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
November 27, 2012

In recognition of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and World AIDS Day, Ambassador-at-large for Global Women’s Issues Melanne Verveer announced today $3 million in small grants awarded to dozens of grassroots organizations working to prevent and respond to gender-based violence (GBV) around the world, with a link to HIV prevention, treatment and care.

These grants are part of a joint initiative between the Secretary’s Office of Global Women’s Issues and the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) to address the link between HIV infection and GBV, and will support the work of 35 organizations in 28 countries. These countries include: Barbados, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Gabon, Ghana, Grenada, Guinea, Guyana, Indonesia, Malawi, Mexico, Namibia, Nicaragua, Niger, Pakistan, Philippines, Russia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, St. Lucia, Swaziland, Trinidad and Tobago, Ukraine, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Grants of up to $100,000 per organization will fund innovative programs that link to HIV prevention, treatment and care platforms, including those programs that work to engage community leaders in the fight against GBV and AIDS, strengthen legal and judicial systems to ensure the full enforcement of anti-GBV laws, enhance prevention and response efforts, and work to reduce stigma and harmful practices.

One in three women worldwide will experience GBV in their lifetime, and in some countries, 70 percent of female populations are affected. Gender-based violence increases women and girls’ overall vulnerability to HIV, with country studies indicating an up to three-fold risk of HIV infection among women who experience violence. Addressing gender inequities and norms is essential to reducing the vulnerability of women and girls to HIV infection. Through this initiative, grassroots organizations will receive support to address the structural drivers of both violence and HIV, contributing to a longer-term effort to create an AIDS-free generation and societies free of violence.

For more information, please contact

Previewing the Equal Futures Partnership Launch

Special Briefing
Melanne Verveer
Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues 
New York City
September 24, 2012

MS. NULAND: All right, everybody. Good morning. For our first briefing of UNGA week, on the record today we have Melanne Verveer, Ambassador-at-Large For Global Women’s Issues, to talk about the Equal Futures Partnership event later this afternoon. Just to tell you that this is on the record with the exception of the country pledges, which are going to be embargoed until the countries announce them at the event, which Melanne will give you at the end.

Over to you, Ambassador.

AMBASSADOR VERVEER: Well, thank you, Toria, and good morning to everybody. This afternoon, Secretary Clinton will be launching the Equal Futures Partnership to expand women’s political and economic participation around the world. This builds on a challenge that President Obama issued last year at UNGA, calling on his fellow leaders to make commitments to expanding women’s progress in these areas in their countries. It also builds on much of the work that has gone on over the last several years to grow women’s participation in all sectors, recognizing that no country can get ahead if it leaves half of its people behind.

To that end, today, the leaders – either the presidents, prime ministers, or the foreign ministers – will be announcing for their countries a number of new commitments. The first tranche includes the United States and 12 other countries, which are Australia, Benin, Bangladesh, Denmark, Finland, Indonesia, Jordan, the Netherlands, Peru, Senegal, Tunisia, and the European Union. In addition, there will be private sector commitments both as part of the United States announcement, which Valerie Jarrett will make for the White House, which has put the U.S. domestic commitments together, as well as four companies who are joining in making international commitments. And those are Intel, Discovery Communications, Mary Kay, and Goldman Sachs. MORE

London Olympics Make the Case for Unleashing the Potential of Women and Girls

United States' Missy Franklin, United States' Dana Vollmer, United States' Allison Schmitt and United States' Shannon Vreeland pose with their gold medals for the women's 4x200-meter freestyle relay swimming final at the Aquatics Centre in the Olympic Park during the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, on August 1, 2012. [AP Photo]

About the Author: Melanne Verveer serves as the Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues at the U.S. Department of State.

There’s been a lot of talk about how the London Olympics will best be remembered as the Women’s Olympics. Not only because of the individual performances of gymnast Gabby Douglas, or swimmer Missy Franklin, or heptathlete Jessica Ennis, but because of the collective achievements of women who participated in these London Games.

The statistics are amazing: Two thirds of the gold medals, and more than half of all medals won by Team USA, were won by American women. And this was despite the fact that women were eligible for 30 fewer medals than the men! The American women did not stand alone in leading their countries to the top of the medal tables. Women from China and Russia (#2 and #3 behind the U.S. in the total medal count), also took home more medals than their male counterparts.

Forty-four percent of all athletes at the games were women, and with the… more »