Washington, May 14 : US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has said that former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, a single moderate woman inspired the US to launch the "One Woman Initiative" to help nurture other women who could become forces for moderation and peaceful change.
Rice stressed that woman empowerment is a fundamental component of any relevant and effective foreign policy in today's world. Women are increasingly being given access to more opportunities than ever before, but there is still much work to be done, Rice said at the opening ceremony of the 'One Woman Initiative', a public-private partnership.
"Ironically, such a hopeful idea was actually born of tragedy from the assassination of Benazir Bhutto last December, just prior to the elections in Pakistan," she said.
It is a dark time for women who have been overlooked in today's rapidly changing global environment - those who have been denied the opportunity to go to school, to read, or to use a computer, those who do not have a legal identity, legal rights or even the right to vote, she said.
She added, "These are the women in the shadows, often with little voice in their societies, and we must respond to their needs and help them to unlock their own potential. So often, it takes only one woman to make a difference. If you empower that woman with information, and training, or a micro-loan, she can lift up her entire family and contribute to the success of her community. Multiply that one woman's impact by a hundred or a thousand, and perhaps a million lives can change."
The US will supply 100 million dollars for the programme, which will support women in countries with large Muslim populations.
The focus of the programme is on empowerment initiatives, including entrepreneurship, political leadership, and the rule of law.