State Department launches Women and Public Service Initiative

Women and Public Service Initiative

Several leading women's colleges recently announced a partnership with the U.S. State Department aimed at increasing the participation of women worldwide in public service and political leadership, and at developing global solutions to improve governance, expand civil rights and combat corruption.

At the Women in the World Summit in New York City on March 11, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton introduced the Women and Public Service Initiative, under which Smith College, Wellesley College, Bryn Mawr College, Mount Holyoke College and Barnard College will collaborate with the State Department to present a conference later this year at Bryn Mawr, and to establish an annual summer institute for young women.

The conference at Bryn Mawr will be focused on forming a global network of women in public service, drawing attention to the need to encourage a new generation of female political leaders, and to advance partnerships, including an annual public service and political leadership institute.

"Together we will seek to promote the next generation of women leaders who will invest in their countries and communities, provide leadership for their governments and societies, and help change the way global solutions are developed. … We will marshal the data, we will make the case, and we will never stop working," Clinton said.

Clinton said education for women can be linked directly to increases in income levels in developing countries, The Daily Beast's Lisa Miller reports. "Educated women have better health, lower rates of infant and maternal mortality, and a greater likelihood of getting a job outside the home," Miller writes. "When women earn and keep their own money, they spend more on their families and in their communities than men do, 'creating a positive impact on future development.' Especially in the Arab world, she said, citing the 2005 Arab Human Development Report [PDF file], empowering women is a 'prerequisite for an Arab renaissance.'"

"At a time when governments, NGO's, and businesses are increasingly recognizing how educating women and girls allays poverty and political instability, we need women leaders, committed to the public sector, from many nationalities and socioeconomic backgrounds, globally educated and prepared to lead," Smith College President Carol T. Christ said in a statement. "That is the venture on which we embark."