No matter where in the world that I travel, I'm always impressed by two things: one, that so many people recognize that a nation's progress can be measured by the rights and freedoms that its women enjoy, and, two, that so many people want to help improve the lives of women and girls.
We at the Office of Global Women's Issues are administering two exciting new initiatives that will make it possible for people all over the world to make a real and concrete difference in the lives of women and girls.
These initiatives recognize that good ideas come from everywhere: from people of all ages, from everywhere in the world, from small communities and urban centers. The hard part has always been to make sure that these good ideas connect with the resources necessary to make them a reality. This is exactly what the Secretary's Innovation Award for the Empowerment of Women and Girls to do. We all know the challenges, hardships, and inequalities women and girls face, no matter where they live. What the Innovation Award does is pose the question: what's your solution? Send us a concept paper telling us how it works. Thanks to the generosity of the Rockefeller Foundation, the innovators with the best two proposals (recommended by an esteemed jury) will receive up to $500,000 each with which to take their projects to scale.
Of course, there are a number of non-governmental organizations around the world that are already hard at work on removing obstacles to women's equality. They bring a level of local knowledge and expertise to tackling these problems that's invaluable, and our partnerships with them are crucial. To help support the work they do, we've instituted the Secretary's International Fund for Women Girls. The Women's Fund focuses on six topics: political and economic empowerment, access to health care and education, combating violence against women, and ensuring that women are equal partners in the fight against climate change. Donations from individuals, corporations, and foundations will enable the organizations that have been successful in these areas to continue -- and to expand -- their good work.
Working towards women's equality is one of the most effective and efficient means of improving international development, stability, and security. Innovative ideas and much-needed support to NGOs that are making a difference will lift families and entire communities out of poverty, rescue women and girls from violence, and let individuals contribute their full talents and potential to their societies. Women's progress is human progress. We hope you participate in these new initiatives and encourage others to do so as well.