Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Hillary Clinton in India: Day Two Meeting with SEWA women

Next stop for Secretary Clinton was a meeting with women from SEWA, Self-Employed Women's Association, which is a non-government organization in Mumbai

She toured the grounds, was presented a gift of a decorative Indian shawl by two Indian children, as well as listened to members and artisans sing the song “We Shall Overcome”.

The Secretary also spoke and took questions. I thought her opening remarks were wonderful:

"I am so happy to be here with longtime friends and members of SEWA, 1.2 million strong throughout India. And I want to thank the leaders who have joined me here – Reema Nanavaty, who is SEWA’s general secretary, and Mona Dave, SEWA’s CEO, and my longtime friend, Ella Bhatt, the founder of SEWA, who many years ago came up with what seemed at the time to be a simple idea that has become a model for women, economic progress, and empowerment.

These three women and the others who are here, who have been active in SEWA for many years, have guided this organization so that it is truly a world leader in the empowerment of women. And it’s such an honor to be here with them, and I particularly appreciate Ella, who is a member of the Global Elders group, that consists of people like Nelson Mandela, for coming and traveling here to be with me.

I first visited SEWA in 1995 in Gujarat, and it was an extraordinary experience. From the moment that I stepped into the headquarters, I knew that I was witnessing a transformational undertaking. There are some pictures of us looking somewhat younger, and I have a different hairstyle, as was the usual case."

She highlighted the contribution of women in a country’s growth saying,
“We simply cannot make progress in our world if we leave women behind. What SEWA has accomplished, the most vulnerable women can work their way towards self sufficiency and towards secured healthy lives and then its not just women who benefit, it’s their families, their communities.”
She also pledged the U.S.'s support and cooperation to help India in meeting some of its health challenges in eliminating diseases like tuberculosis and polio.
“As you may know, we contribute a lot of money from our government to HIV/AIDS. But, we want to add to commitment, a commitment to maternal and child health which is especially important here in India. The eradication of infectious diseases like tuberculosis, polio which are still problems here in India. And we are going to work very hard with our counterparts in India as part of our new comprehensive dialogue to figure out whether the United States can be of help in solving some of India’s health challenges.”
Read her full remarks here or watch clip below:

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