Secretary Clinton met today with an incredible group of women at a town hall meeting at the beautiful National Parliamentary Library in downtown Tbilisi. The women who took part all have one thing in common: their commitment to reforming Georgia and helping it address all the challenges it faces. Georgia has come so far since independence in 1991 and especially since the Rose Revolution in 2003 -- and much of that progress is due to the women who joined the conversation with Secretary Clinton.
Georgia today has a lot on its plate -- it is overcoming the affects of Russia 's invasion in 2008 and the continuing occupation of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Georgia has built a market economy and is attracting foreign investment, including the recent rejuvenation of the Black Sea resort town of Batumi. Leaders at the Ministry of Justice and Georgia's Parliament have passed ground-breaking legislation to improve the rule of law and transform the legal system with a modern, adversarial judiciary. These changes don't happen overnight and they certainly don't happen without the support of Georgia's society. Women have been leaders in the government and are responsible for advancing Georgia's NATO aspirations, promoting the rule of law and responsible governance. As in any democracy -- their voices are vital to creating a responsive and well-balanced society.
Only seven years ago, Georgia was plagued by corruption, stagnation, and civil discord. Thanks to the work of many of the people in the town hall meeting with Secretary Clinton, Georgia has moved beyond the dark days when citizens had electricity and water only a couple of hours a day. It has become a vibrant, bustling capital of the South Caucasus, well-placed for dramatic growth in the next couple of years. Of course, there's still a long way to go, and Secretary Clinton urged the women to strive for more; she also told the group that the United States proudly stands with the Georgian people to achieve its goals.
The group included an impressive array of participants: Georgia's First Lady, Sandra Roelofs, the National Security Secretary who is a Notre Dame law school alumna, government ministers and officials, representatives of the hundreds of thousands of Georgians displaced from Abkhazia and South Ossetia, businesswomen, educators, and leading NGO and opposition activists. They all came together to share their views on where Georgia is today and where they hope to see it go in the future.