Half the World’s Population

January 11, 2013








SRC0035 Ambassador Melanne Verveer  20130110 2875.jpg
During her visit to campus, U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues Melanne Verveer met with the inaugural Global Links scholar Amel Abed Mohammed Ali and Rollins President Lewis Duncan. (Photo by Scott Cook)

“Human rights are women’s rights, and women’s rights are human rights,’” Melanne Verveer said, quoting a famous statement Hillary Clinton made in 1995 during the U.N. 4th World Conference on Women. Verveer, who served as chief of staff to the First Lady during the Clinton Administration, recalled listening from behind a curtain backstage as Clinton delivered that speech in Beijing. It was then, Verveer said, that she realized how important it is to give voice to the issues facing women and girls.

Speaking at Rollins on Thursday, January 10, she did just that, outlining the advantages of advancing women and girls around the world.

“The data show that in countries where the gender gap is small, those countries are far more prosperous,” she said. “Women invest upwards of 90 percent of their income in their families and communities. It raises the standard of living, from which everyone prospers.”

As the United States’ first-ever Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues, Verveer—and the U.S. Department of State under which she works—works to ensure that advancing women and girls around the world is fully integrated into U.S. foreign policy. She also leads efforts to increase women’s economic and political participation and advocates for greater access to education and health care for women and girls.

“It is not just the right thing to do,” she said. “It is also the smart thing to do, the strategic thing to do.”

During her speech, Verveer discussed women’s contributions to the global economy, to technology, and to peace and stability. She also highlighted the Global Links program, a collaborative initiative between Rollins College, Tupperware Brands Corporation, and the U.S. Department of State. As part of the solution to the issues she discussed, Verveer acknowledged Amel Abed Mohammed Ali, who was in attendance and who is the program’s inaugural scholar. A professor of operation management and head of the department of industrial management at Babylon University in Iraq, Ali has spent the past year at Rollins learning about U.S. and global business practices that she will share with burgeoning female entrepreneurs in Iraq.

“Our interest in Global Links is to bring about the kind of outcomes we need to see in greater measure,” Verveer said. “We are all linked in that we cannot but be affected by what happens globally.”

Verveer concluded by re-emphasizing that not only is women’s equality the moral imperative of the 21st century, it’s also one of the best investments we can make.


By Laura J. Cole

Office of Marketing & Communications
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