The week's "Photo of the Week" comes to us from Nathan Arnold, the Communications Officer for the Office of International Visitors in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, and shows Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton greeting participants at the African Women's Entrepreneurship Program (AWEP) at the Department of State in Washington, D.C. on June 14, 2012.
Nathan, the photographer, said of the event, "Prior to Secretary Clinton entering the room to greet the AWEP participants, you could feel the energy in the air. Many of the 47 women had brought samples from their successful textile businesses back home. When the Secretary entered the room, she immediately recognized the dress of one of the participants, which was of the same material as an AWEP shawl that alumnae of the program had shown her in Zambia in 2011. After the event, the women were absolutely beaming."
The African Women's Entrepreneurship Program (AWEP) is an initiative launched by the U.S. Department of State in July 2010. It identifies and builds networks of women entrepreneurs across sub-Saharan Africa poised to transform their societies by owning, running, and operating small and medium businesses, and by becoming voices for social advocacy in their communities. Supporting economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa is a policy priority for the United States. In Africa, women are the backbone of communities and the continent's greatest potential to unlocking economic growth as women provide the majority of labor with the least amount of resources. Through AWEP, the Department of State advances the Secretary's Policy Guidance on Promoting Gender Equality through civic and economic participation in sub-Saharan Africa. You can learn more about AWEP on the U.S. Department of State's page here.
This week, Secretary Clinton delivered remarks at the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Forum, where she spoke about the AWEP participants and highlighted the United States' new strategy toward Sub-Saharan Africa. Secretary Clinton said, "Through programs like AWEP and the partnerships made possible by AGOA, we can see economic transformation with our own eyes. And in fact, we are taking what we've learned from the work with many of you and elsewhere in the world to bring it to a new level, because today is not only the 11th AGOA Forum; I've also designated it the first Global Economic Statecraft Day, because we are elevating economic issues as a key element of our foreign policy. Our diplomats are engaging more on economic matters worldwide because we all know economic forces are increasingly shaping our world and our economies will be more and more interdependent."
In today's interconnected world, foreign policy challenges are clearly inseparable from economic ones. That's why Secretary Clinton has placed economic statecraft at the forefront of U.S. diplomacy and has encouraged American embassies and consulates around the world to use Global Economic Statecraft Day as an occasion to advance economic opportunities for the American people.