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U.S. Department of State

Great Seal Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
Remarks at Luncheon Roundtable for Women in Government, Foreign Ministry
Santiago, Chile, August 17, 2000
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
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Text as prepared for delivery

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Thank you Madam Foreign Minister [Chilean Foreign Minister Alvear Valenzuela]. I am particularly pleased that you have joined a steadily expanding club of women foreign ministers around the world. And I am duly impressed to see that President Lagos has appointed so many capable women to key positions in government, and to see so many other women aspire to, and reach, high elective office.

This event is a wonderful way to start my visit to Chile because our theme today is one near and dear to my heart. The advancement of women is one of the most revolutionary and uplifting forces now shaping this region and the wider world.

Too many women in too many places still live surrounded by the four walls of poverty and ignorance, exploitation and discrimination. Too many have entered the new century shackled by the physical and psychological chains of the past.

We must strive to ensure that from the smallest village to the largest city, the vital voices of women will be heard at the ballot box and in legislatures, in classrooms and boardrooms, in counseling peace and building prosperity.

In so doing, we must also be sure to respect and value one another, understanding that although every woman wants freedom of expression, not every free woman will express herself in the same way. No country or culture has a monopoly on what is right for a woman to think or believe. Our goal is to help women everywhere to express themselves.

In my government, responsibility for the advancement of women is not the job of any one agency, it is the job of all of them. Thanks to President Clinton's Interagency Council on Women, and in partnership with NGOs, we have leveraged our efforts as a team.

For example, our Department of Health and Human Services has made new investments in the early detection and treatment of breast and cervical cancer; launched a National Women's Health Clearinghouse; and waged war on HIV-AIDS.

The Department of Labor has strengthened our policies on family leave, increased our investments in child care, helped millions of women to find good jobs, and encouraged employers across America to provide equal pay for equal work.

The Treasury Department has expanded small business and micro-enterprise credit, thereby helping women-owned businesses to grow in number twice as fast as those overall.

Through USAID, we are helping women bring down the barriers to political participation as advocates and voters, legislators and leaders. We are backing projects that enhance economic opportunity through greater access to credit, education, and comprehensive health care.

Finally, in the State Department, we have placed efforts to advance the status of women and girls right where they belong -- in the mainstream of American foreign policy. We have launched a major diplomatic and law enforcement initiative to halt trafficking in human beings.

And through the Vital Voices Democracy Initiative, we are mobilizing public and private sector resources, and bringing women from around the world together to exchange knowledge and achieve results -- in support of freedom, prosperity and peace.

Today, I hope we can share our experiences and discuss ways to ensure that opportunity exists for everyone, everywhere. Thank you.

[End of Document]
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