THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
March 8, 1995
Remarks by First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton
At Celebration of International Women's Day
Thank you very much. I am grateful for this opportunity to
speak at this forum on International Women's Day. Today, I have
the pleasure of announcing a United States initiative to expand
girls' and women's education in the developing world.
The issues addressed at this summit are issues that women
around the world face every day in their kitchens, at their
children's bedsides, in the marketplace, and in the workforce.
Women should be active participants in helping their societies
meet the great challenges of this and the next century. But that
can only be achieved if women are empowered through education,
legal rights and protection from violence and are assured access
to adequate social services, employment opportunities, political
institutions, and decision making. Empowerment and access will
enable women to take their rightful place as they work in
partnership with men to strengthen their families and contribute
to their communities.
No single factor contributes to the long-term health and
prosperity of a developing nation more than investing in
education for girls and women. In countries where governments
have invested primary and secondary schooling for girls and
women, the investment has been repaid many times through higher
economic productivity, greater participation of women in the
modern labor sector, lower infant and maternal mortality rates,
improved child nutrition and family health, longer life
expectancy, lower birth rates, and stronger families and
While we have witnessed significant increases in primary
school enrollments worldwide in the past two decades, much
remains to be done. Today, more than two thirds of the children
who have never attended school or dropped out before finishing,
are girls. Almost one billion people remain illiterate, and two
thirds of them are women.
Recent research has demonstrated that investments in the
education of girls and women are investments in the community and
in the prosperity of a nation. Moreover, investments in girls
and women may yield a higher return than any others in a
The deliberations, goals and commitments of the
International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo
last year, this World Summit for Social Development taking place
here this next week, and the Fourth World Conference on Women in
Beijing later this year, all have clearly stated that education
of girls and women throughout their lives is essential to
increased global prosperity and social integration.
Recognizing the critical role women must play in their own
and their countries' development and the importance of education
in enabling them to play that role, I am pleased to announce
today that the United States will allocate $100 million over a
10-year period to provide enhanced educational opportunities for
hundreds of thousands of girls and women in Africa, Asia and
Latin America who currently live in poverty. The goals of the
initiative are ambitious: They include a 20 percent increase in
girls' primary school completion rates or a 20 percent increase
in the number of women who are functionally literate in the
project areas in each country within 10 years.
A key element in this initiative is that it will be women,
organized in NGO's, who will take the leadership in this effort.
This new program will also assist women in developing their own
capacities for improving the education of their own children,
including their daughters.
I am proud that the United States is taking such an
important step in helping poor women reach their full potential
in their families, communities, and in their societies. There is
no more important task before all of us. I respectfully urge
other governments to join us in creating or expanding the
opportunities for all women worldwide.
Thank you very much.