Choose a news category:

Obama Addresses UN - MADRE Responds

Posted on: Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Keywords: Environmental Justice, Economic Justice, Peace Building, UN

September 23, 2009 – An Open Letter

Dear President Obama:

As you bring to a close your first address to the United Nations General Assembly, we know that the time for women’s human rights advocates to amplify our voices is now.  Your active participation in this key international discussion has set the stage for future US engagement with the world.  If the Administration’s efforts to have a positive impact are to be fruitful, the United States must recognize and promote women’s human rights in every policy that it pursues.  

On the “preservation of our planet”:
You correctly identified climate change as a key issue of our time.  Yet, missing from your comments were concrete solutions and the recognition that rural women hold key solutions to climate change.  Women are the traditional managers of rural communities’ food, water and other environmental resources. Women farmers in Nicaragua who have led the way in sustainable, organic agriculture; women in Kenya who have brought wells for clean water to their communities; women in Panama who have preserved biodiversity by protecting seed banks—these are the on-the-ground experts to whom we should be turning for models of sustainable resource management.

On the creation of a “global economy that advances opportunity for all people”:

The global economic recession has been accompanied by a marked retreat from the development and poverty-reduction commitments of wealthy countries.  Yet, it is in precisely such times that women’s health, education and empowerment must be a central priority in all US policies.

A healthy global economy will not result from the same US-led policies that have produced mass poverty, environmental ruin, and most recently, a worldwide recession. We call on you to promote policies that uphold women’s economic and social rights. Women constitute 70 percent of the world’s poor. They are also the economic backbone of the world’s most vulnerable communities: women are the majority of small-holder farmers and the main providers of healthcare, childcare and primary education. As such, women are central to eradicating poverty and pursuing a sustainable global economy.  

On “the pursuit of peace”:
In Afghanistan, abuses of women’s human rights are rampant, but they cannot be eliminated at gunpoint. In fact, the US military presence undermines prospects for Afghan women to secure rights for themselves. As US troops levels have increased, so too has the power of the Taliban as more Afghans turn to them for protection from the US and its corrupt and predatory allies in the Karzai government.  We call on you to shift US resources from making war to supporting Afghan-led development and human rights initiatives.

Your promise to pursue “a just and lasting peace between Israel, Palestine and the Arab world” included a welcome recognition that families pay the steepest price for armed conflict.  That is why peace negotiations must uphold the full range of human rights for all people in the region.  The success of any future settlement hinges on its compliance with human rights standards and international laws that guarantee peace and security for all people in the region, call for the creation of an economically viable Palestinian state, and protect the rights of Palestinian refugees.  


You concluded your address by reminding the world that “democracy and human rights are essential” to achieving the goals that you outlined before the General Assembly.  We join with our sister organizations from across the world to give you this message: women’s human rights are central to any sustainable solutions to the crises that we confront today. The success of your policies rests on your commitment to upholding and advancing the full range of women’s human rights.


Vivian Stromberg
MADRE Executive Director



« Back to "Press Room" Next Article »

Article Tools
Increase Font Decrease Font Reset Font Print Page Email Page


"Press Room" Home November 2014 October 2014 September 2014 August 2014 July 2014 June 2014 May 2014 April 2014 March 2014 February 2014 January 2014 December 2013 November 2013 October 2013 September 2013 August 2013 July 2013 June 2013 May 2013 April 2013 March 2013 February 2013 January 2013 December 2012 November 2012 October 2012 September 2012 August 2012 July 2012 June 2012 May 2012 April 2012 March 2012 February 2012 January 2012 December 2011 November 2011 October 2011 September 2011 August 2011 July 2011 June 2011 May 2011 April 2011 March 2011 February 2011 January 2011 December 2010 November 2010 October 2010 September 2010 August 2010 July 2010 June 2010 May 2010 April 2010 March 2010 February 2010 January 2010 December 2009 November 2009 October 2009 September 2009 August 2009 July 2009 June 2009 May 2009 April 2009 March 2009 February 2009 January 2009 December 2008 November 2008 October 2008 September 2008 August 2008 July 2008 June 2008 May 2008 April 2008 March 2008 February 2008 January 2008 December 2007 November 2007 October 2007 September 2007 August 2007 June 2007 May 2007 April 2007 March 2007 February 2007 January 2007 December 2006 November 2006 October 2006 September 2006 July 2006 June 2006 April 2006 March 2006 January 2006 December 2005 November 2005 September 2005 August 2005 July 2005 April 2005 March 2005 November 2004 October 2004 April 2004 March 2004 January 2004 December 2003 October 2003 September 2003 June 2003 April 2003 January 2003 September 2002 June 2002 January 2002 November 2001 October 2001 September 2001 August 2001 January 2001


Kat Noel, Website & Media Coordinator
PHONE: +1 212 627 0444

To sign up to receive MADRE media alerts, click here.

Bring MADRE to You

MADRE & Our Partners Make News