Farming, business top US global agenda for women: Envoy

July 22nd, 2011 - 5:16 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, July 22 (IANS) The US is helping women in developing countries like India to become self-reliant in agriculture and small businesses by promoting education, health and providing easy access to micro-credit, a US envoy said.

“There are many initiatives we are involved in. One of them is the ‘Feed the Future’ programme which increases agricultural productivity and helps combat hunger in many places,” Melanne Verveer, ambassador-at-large, global women’s issues, told IANS here.

“The project benefits women who own small holdings. Men farmers and women farmers have different needs,” she said.

The envoy, who went to Jaipur in Rajasthan this week to talk to women at the grassroots, said she “met a group of extraordinary panchayat women who were working at the local level to make life easier for the community”.

“They are working on water projects, dealing with violence and send their girls to school. They are the leaders,” she said.

Verveer said: “The US government has also launched global health initiatives for women in developing countries because women often don’t care for their own needs.” Families take precedence.

“It is an integrated health system with family planning,” she said on the sidelines of an interactive session with underprivileged girl students in a government school in the capital.

Verveer, who coordinates US foreign policies, issues and activities relating the political, social and economic advancement of women around the world, said: “The Obama administration is encouraging women’s economic participation in small and medium size businesses around the world”.

“We are helping them overcome obstacles in business by giving them access to micro-credit finance and mentoring them so that they can sustain their families.”

The envoy said Indian women had to take their place in every aspect of life in the country.

“Women’s participation in political life is very important. Men and women together by tapping their talent and experiences can contribute significantly to improving situations,” she said.

No country can prosper if half of its people are left behind, Verveer said.

The envoy said she was very concerned about violence against women. “It is a global epidemic: Rape used as a tool of war in conflicts, honour killing and infanticide.”

“We have to do everything we can wherever we can to ensure the dignity women enjoy at every level,” she said.

Verveer added that the civil society, government and the business community should come forward to combat violence against women.

The ambassador is working to ensure that women’s rights are fully integrated with human rights in the development of US foreign policy.

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