About the Author: Luke Forgerson serves as DipNote's Managing Editor.
Our readers -- particularly those who follow DipNote on their Blackberry or iPhone -- are well aware that mobile technology is reshaping the way we all work, learn and communicate. This week, when the Apps4Africa competition winners were announced, we saw several examples of how mobile technology can directly improve the lives of people. One of the winning apps, called Mamakiba, is a budgeting tool that helps pregnant women save for and prepay prenatal care and the costs of delivery.
Three hundred million women in low- and middle-income countries, however, do not have access to mobile technology, due to an array of economic and social barriers. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and British former First Lady Cherie Blair called on us to close this gender gap and launched the GSMA mWomen Program, as part of a commitment to fairness and to progress.
At an APEC meeting, Ambassador Melanne Verveer called closing the gender gap in economic participation the best prescription for economic growth, and Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Ann Stock launched TechWomen, an initiative to connect women from the Middle East and North Africa working in technology with their counterparts in Silicon Valley. Secretary Clinton underscored the vital importance of building professional connections and mentorships in her remarks to the 12th Annual Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit.
Under Secretary of State Maria Otero honored six women conservationists who have dedicated their lives to saving the planet and improving women's rights, including past Nobel Peace Prize recipient Dr. Wangari Maathai of Kenya. Secretary Clinton applauded the Nobel Committee's decision to award this year's Nobel Peace Prize to Liu Xiaobo, an advocate for human rights and peaceful political reform, and called for his immediate release from prison in China.
In Dhaka, Ambassador Ertharin Cousin recognized the many individuals and organizations who are working to improve food security to ensure Bangladesh "shall overcome." Assistant Secretary of State Jose Fernandez traveled to Indonesia, where he participated in an agricultural and investment forum and addressed expanding the fight against global hunger. The World Food Program USA recognized Secretary Clinton for her efforts in advancing the international community's response to address global hunger.
In Kabul, we saw progress in Afghanistan's agricultural sector, with 136 Afghan and 40 international vendors coming together for an international fair demonstrating Afghan high-value services and crops, such as grapes, pomegranates, dried fruits, and cashmere. We also read about U.S.-supported road paving projects, which help in the transportation of agricultural goods from field to market in Afghanistan.
Elsewhere around the world, American diplomats connected young leaders in New Zealand; addressed the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender refugees and asylum seekers at a roundtable in Geneva; assessed stabilization and reconstruction needs in Kyrgyzstan; addressed adoption and children's issues in Ethiopia; and supported the carpet sector in Pakistan. USAID's Mark Ward addressed how America's development professionals and NGO partners aim to accomplish their missions while balancing transparency and security concerns. And in New York, Ambassador Eric Goosby announced a three-year pledge of $4 billion to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
Back in Washington, Secretary Clinton addressed the U.S.-Georgia Charter Strategic Partnership, and Ambassador Luis Cdebaca spoke on how the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons is working to turn words into action in the fight against modern slavery. U.S. consular officials cheered the receipt of the year's first diversity visa lottery application. (You can learn more about the visa lottery program at travel.state.gov.) Here at DipNote, we launched the "Readers Write…" feature to spotlight and answer comments from our community.
As we look at the week ahead, Secretary Clinton will travel to the Balkans and Belgium. The city of Brussels is home to three U.S. diplomatic missions, including to the European Union and NATO, and Truman Hall, where you can find this week's Art in Embassies selection on display.
While in Brussels, the Secretary will meet with EU counterparts and join U.S. Defense Secretary Gates for NATO meetings. In the lead-up to the Secretary's travel, we asked you, our readers: "What issues should top the agenda at the NATO foreign affairs and defense ministerial?" We look forward to reading your responses to this question, and hearing from you on all the entries we post in the coming week.