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Office of the First Lady

For Immediate Release March 14, 1995
                             New York City

"There is no panacea, no magic bullet that will suddenly empower women or free people from the bondage of inhuman living conditions. Progress depends on our working together, in partnership, to create conditions around the world that enable women, men, and children to reach their God-given potential and flourish within their families and societies.

"But today, perhaps even more than in Mrs. Roosevelt's time, there is a special urgency to helping women around the world assume their rightful places in society. That is because the fortunes of women are inextricably tied to the fortunes of our global community. If women don't thrive, the world won't thrive.

"At least in words, we tend to agree that 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 through real, concrete actions, actions that empower women through education, legal rights and protection from violence. And actions that assure women access to adequate social services, employment opportunities, political institutions, and decision making.

"Investing in the health and education of women and girls is essential to improving global prosperity. In parts of Asia and South America, we have seen education of girls help lift whole populations out of poverty. We have seen the education of women enhance their roles as mothers and increase their participation in civic life. So we must do more to ensure equal rights for women, along with equal pay and equal access to health care, education, and political power.

"The United Nations must play a leadership role. Every program, policy, and decision that emanates from this building directly or indirectly affects women as they care for children, manage households, and work at their jobs. Women must be a part of the process within the United Nations as we search for answers, and women must continue to demand that their rights and opportunities be respected in nations around the world.

"In paying tribute to Eleanor Roosevelt as part of this conference, we would do well to consider her great vision, her compassion, and her common sense approach to solving very difficult human problems. For her, no political obstacle was too large. No cultural gap was too wide. No difference of opinion was too serious to overcome. 'The important thing is to go on working and growing in understanding.' she said. If we follow that one piece of advice, our world will be better for it."