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Technology Opens Doors for Women, Clinton Says

Technology Opens Doors for Women, Clinton Says

06 July 2011

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is celebrating her department’s TechWomen exchange program, which uses technology to open doors that are otherwise closed to women in the Middle East and North Africa.

“Being a woman in the field of technology is not always easy,” Clinton said at the State Department during a July 6 gathering for the TechWomen initiative. “But there are so many opportunities in technology that we just have to forge ahead, and we’re doing so around the world because we want to make sure that all the tools that technology has made available are just as open to women as they are to men.”

TechWomen, funded by the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, is a public-private partnership that pairs women from top technology companies in California’s Silicon Valley with women emerging as leaders in technical fields across the Middle East and North Africa for a professional mentorship and exchange program.

According to its website, TechWomen “fosters and develops the next generation of women leaders in the technology field by providing women and girls with the access and opportunity needed to pursue tech-based careers.”

The program began in May with 38 women from the region who came to the United States to spend five weeks working with their American mentors. The State Department July 6 event concluded the U.S. portion of the exchange. The American participants are scheduled to visit their counterparts later in 2011.

The 21st century is “the time when women and girls should be fully embraced to be given their universal human rights, no matter who they are or where they live,” Clinton said, adding that the Internet has “so much potential for unleashing the creativity and building the opportunity that is at the root of any successful society and that should be available to every person.”

The secretary called on program participants to take what they have learned through TechWomen and pass it on to other women and girls in their home countries. She stressed the importance of technology in “enhancing relationships, building businesses and creating greater opportunities.”

Clinton also announced a new program, TechGirls, scheduled to be launched in 2012 as a complement to the TechWomen program. TechGirls aims to bring teenage girls from across the Middle East and North Africa to the United States for “an intensive month of educational activities,” Clinton said.