|Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
Remarks by At UN Millennium Women’s Summit, United Nations
New York, New York, September 5, 2000
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
[As prepared for delivery]
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I just wanted to express my solidarity and support for your efforts. This is a good way to kick off the Millennium Summit.
It is certainly a sign of progress. If a similar gathering of women heads of state and international organizations had been held in 1900, it would have consisted of Queen Victoria talking to herself.
I commend Laura Liswood for her work in creating the Council of World Women Leaders. And Kim Campbell for her time as Council Chair. The Council provides an important forum for sharing experiences and ideas.
I congratulate you all for the great work you are doing. I remember in 1993, when I first came to the UN, I was told the General Assembly would never agree to establishing a High Commissioner on Human Rights. Then I was told they’d never appoint anyone with the guts to ruffle feathers.
But then, if the conventional wisdom were always right, none of us would be here.
The Women’s Millennium Summit has an agenda as comprehensive as the UN itself, ranging from the role of women in peacekeeping operations, to the importance of women in development, to the protection of human rights, to the special challenges faced by female refugees.
In the past, we have worked together on many of these issues. At the UN, in Beijing, through Vital Voices. Bilaterally, Multilaterally, Globally. We have accomplished much. But, as we travel the world, we know there is an incredible amount still to do.
I am proud of the U.S. record, under the Clinton-Gore Administration, in bringing women’s issues into the foreign policy mainstream. We have been especially active on trafficking, putting more emphasis now on AIDS, making progress on children’s issues. We are still struggling with Congress over matters such as family planning and the Convention to Eliminate Discrimination Against Women.
I am personally proud of the collaboration with Hillary Rodham Clinton and the Beijing process. It is not just a position I’ve taken; it’s a commitment to women and girls I expect to pursue as long as I live.
Before closing, I want to note that the Beijing Conference began with a video from Burma’s Nobel prizewinner Aung San Suu Kyi expressing solidarity with the women’s movement worldwide. She needs our solidarity now.
Burma’s democratic forces are under increasing siege. Aung San Suu Kyi is being held incommunicado; her party subject to extreme harassment and intimidation. Efforts are being made by military authorities to smear her.
The truth is that Aung San Suu Kyi and her party have followed a path of nonviolent support for democracy. The authorities should not be allowed to get away with Iron-Boot, Big Lie techniques. Aung San Suu Kyi is being prevented from having her voice heard. We must speak for her. And I hope we will all speak out as publicly, urgently and effectively as we can in support of Aung San Suu Kyi and democratic change in Burma.
It’s good to have allies. You’re my role models. Thanks again for the chance to come, participate and listen.
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