About the Author: Ruth Bennett serves as the Public Affairs Advisor for the Secretary's Office of Global Women’s Issues.
From the Secretary’s Office of Global Women’s Issues– S/GWI, in Department-speak – welcome to the new “Global Women’s Issues” channel of Dipnote!
We’re going to be speaking to you directly, so we’ll start with what’s perhaps a startling confession: here at S/GWI, we have mixed feelings about using the term “women’s issues” to describe our work. On the one hand: yes, we’ll be using this blog to tell you about the human rights issues – broadly defined – that women face around the world, and how those problems connect with the larger social, economic, political and environmental challenges that every country confronts.
On the other hand, we don’t mean to imply that this blog is women-only or deals with issues that only women, or a subset of women, should care about. In fact, we feel pretty strongly that everyone should care about “women’s issues.” These are, after all, issues that cut across every region and most major topics, and if women participated fully and equally in their societies, it’s the entire world that would benefit.
And – while we’re confessing – you won’t just be hearing from us, either. S/GWI coordinates women’s issues within the Department of State, but every office and bureau within the building addresses women’s issues, from the offices that focus only on specific regions of the world to the ones that focus on particular issues, like human rights or climate change, in every part of the world. We’re going to be inviting all of them to open their doors to you in this forum.
S/GWI itself was established in April, 2009, integrating two smaller offices for women’s issues that had existed in the Department. We’re led by Ambassador-at-Large Melanne Verveer. About 20 of us, of both sexes, many ages, religions, ethnic backgrounds, and points of view, work on women’s issues from both a regional and issue-oriented perspective. We do it because we believe, as Secretary Clinton has said, that no nation can get ahead if half its citizens are left behind. We do it because we believe that the complex nature and transnational scope of the most serious problems we face – terrorism and organized crime, nuclear proliferation, political and economic instability, environmental threats, global disease outbreaks – won’t be solved without the ingenuity and creativity of everyone, male and female. We do it because we believe it isn’t just the right thing to do; it’s also the smart thing.
And we do it with the hope that you’ll want to learn more and join with us in advocating for a more equal, safe, and prosperous world.