On June 28, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton traveled to St. Petersburg, Russia, where she led the U.S. delegation to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation's Women and the Economy Forum (WEF). During this event, participants focused on leadership skills and capacity building, two main areas of the San Francisco Declaration on decreasing barriers to women's economic participation, as they relate to innovation, STEM, entrepreneurship, and healthy lifestyles.
During her remarks on June 29 at the WEF, Secretary Clinton said, "Last July at the ASEAN Regional Forum, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and I spoke about the need for Russia and the United States to deepen our cooperation on the future of trade, investment, and business in this critical region. We are working to intensify our shared efforts in the Asia Pacific on everything from strengthening maritime security, to responding to natural disasters, to halting nuclear proliferation, and, of course, working to promote the rights and opportunities of women. So we look forward to continuing this dialogue, not only between Russia and the United States, but among all of our APEC partners.
"If you think about APEC, our membership includes the first, second, and third largest national economies in the world, as well as many others that are growing, despite the economic downturn. Yet for all our diversity, 9 months ago in San Francisco, we joined together around a shared vision and commitment to the kind of growth that we believe will go even further to provide opportunities by taking concrete actions to increase women's participation in our economies."
Secretary Clinton continued, "In other countries throughout APEC, increasing women's entrepreneurship raises incomes while reducing inequality. There are nearly 6 million formal, women-owned small businesses in East Asia. And in economies like Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam, women-owned businesses are increasing and growing at a fast rate. Women now represent 40 percent of the global labor force, 43 percent of the global agricultural workforce, and more than half of the world's university students. So it's just logical: Limiting women's economic potential is for every country like leaving money on the table. It doesn't make sense, especially when we are still struggling to grow our way out of the economic crisis."
Secretary Clinton also delivered remarks at a meeting with civil society while in Russia. Secretary Clinton said, "I like to think of a healthy society as a three-legged stool. One leg must be open, accountable government that delivers results for its people. One must be a dynamic, competitive private sector that creates jobs and economic opportunity for people. And the third leg of the stool is civil society, people like all of you, who are working to improve the lives of your fellow citizens.
"So we believe the work you do has a direct bearing on Russia's future, whether you're advocating to promote free and fair elections, fight discrimination, protect workers' rights, or other civil society goals. We also believe that the Russian people are globally competitive, talented, creative, hard-working, and have a desire for a government that meets their aspirations and respects their rights, the same as people everywhere strive for."
You can follow Secretary Clinton's travel on www.state.gov.