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Melanne Verveer Appointed First Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues

On February 6, President Obama appointed Melanne Verveer the first ever Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues. The White House press release announcing the appointment explained, “The President’s decision to nominate an Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues is unprecedented and reflects the elevated importance of global women’s issues to the President and his entire Administration.”[1] Verveer will serve under Secretary Hillary Clinton in the Department of State.[2] The appointment comes after “the development of the first U.S. Senate subcommittee dedicated to global women’s issues,” an undertaking that Women’s Campaign International believes will provide “an important opportunity for our government to begin prioritizing women’s participation and decision-making on critical global issues.”[3]

Verveer is the co-founder, chair, and co-CEO of Vital Voices Global Partnership, an international not-for-profit organization that focuses on investing “in emerging women leaderspioneers of economic, political and social progress in their countries.”[4] She was also a former aide to Secretary Clinton during the administration of President Bill Clinton when she served as then-first lady’s chief of staff and chief assistant on international activities. Verveer was the U.S. delegate to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights from 1995 to 2000.[5] The White House also pointed out that Verveer “took the lead in establishing the President’s Interagency Council on Women, which serves as a model for governments to address issues of concern to women.”[6]  
 
Not only does the creation of an Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues demonstrate a commitment to this field, but the selection of such an experienced candidate as Verveer reflects strong judgment. As the NGO, Americans for UNFPA explain, she “has established herself as a tireless advocate for women with commitment to helping build women leaders from the ground up.”[7] The International Planned Parenthood Federation also applauded the decision, stating that it is in line with the Secretary of State’s commitment to women’s issues: “Clinton has put efforts to improve the lot of women at the heart of boosting international development, which she says must be an ‘equal partner’ with diplomacy and defense in U.S. foreign policy.”[8] 
 
William Smith, vice president for public policy at the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS), believes that the creation of the Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues and the appointment of Melanne Verveer to the post demonstrates the administration’s commitment to the importance of women in foreign affairs. “The new post will help further on behalf of all women,” Smith said, “This appointment shows that the administration understands that promoting women’s rights will advance American foreign affairs interests as a whole.”
 


[1] The White House, “President Obama Announces Key State Department Appointments,” Press Release published 6 March 2009, accessed 13 March 2009, http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/President-Obama-Announces-Key-State-Department-Appointments/.
[2] “Obama creates post for international women’s issues,” Associated Foreign Press (6 March 2009), accessed 13 March 2009, http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5h6nbe9eevnoNvd6NXxH-BmKC9Lkg.
[3] “President Obama Appoints Ambassador for International Women’s Issues,” Women’s Campaign International, (11 March 2009), accessed 13 March 2009, http://www.womenscampaigninternational.org/2009/03/president-obama-appoints-ambassador-for-international-womens-issues/.
[4] The White House, “President Obama Announces Key State Department Appointments.”
[5] “Obama announces plans to fill key foreign policy posts,” Associated Foreign Press (6 March 2009), accessed 13 March 2009, http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5jjMjv2Oj-Xe6oeVR-onSYVTAF4gQ.
[6] The White House, “President Obama Announces Key State Department Appointments.”
[7] “President Obama nominates the first Ambassador at Large for Global Women’s Issues,” Americans for UNFPA, (8 March 2009), accessed 13 March 2009 http://www.americansforunfpa.org/NetCommunity/Page.aspx?pid=818.
[8] “Obama creates post for international women’s issues,” IPPF, (9 March 2009), accessed 13 March 2009, http://www.ippf.org/en/News/Intl+news/Obama+creates+post+for+international+womens+issues.htm.

 

 

 

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