Hillary Rodham Clinton, former secretary of state and honorary founding chair of the Georgetown Institute of Women, Peace and Security, presented the 2014 Hillary Rodham Clinton Awards for Advancing Women in Peace and Security in Gaston Hall on Tuesday to honor and celebrate the work of three leaders in the field.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague, Dr. Denis Mukwege, director of Panzi Hospital in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and absentee recipient North Atlantic Treaty Organization Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, were the honorees. The event also marked the one-year anniversary since the creation of the GIWPS.
“The work of the institute resonates profoundly with our community as a Catholic and Jesuit institution, animated by a deep commitment to social justice and the responsibility that we have to prepare our young women and men to address challenges that threaten peace, security and human dignity,” University President John J. DeGioia said.
In her opening remarks, Clinton stressed the importance of Georgetown’s work in opening the first institute of this kind and the shared responsibility citizens of the world, including men, hold in ending sexual violence and advancing the rights of opportunities for women.
“When women are excluded and marginalized, we all suffer. We miss out on their experience, their knowledge, their skills, their talents, but when women and girls have the chance to participate fully alongside men and boys in making peace, in growing the economy, in political life, in every facet of existence, then we all benefit, and the three men we honor today understand this and have put their considerable prestige and efforts behind that,” Clinton said.
The discussion moved to the formidable obstacle sexual violence poses to women and the work of Mukwege in effectively addressing these issues. Clinton remarked on her remembrances of Mukwege’s work when she met him in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo during her tenure as secretary of state.
“I don’t think any of us can ever appreciate fully what he has meant, not only to the women who he has helped, but to the cause of peace and human rights,” Clinton said.
Clinton additionally spoke of Rasmussen’s contributions to the field in leading NATO’s efforts to integrate women, peace and security to the alliances operations.
By directing and working at Panzi Hospital, founded in 1999, Mukwege has treated more than 40,000 victims of rape through, medical, psychological, social, political and justice support.
“I accept this award today on behalf of these women, as I strongly believe that those who have endured violence in conflict times have the capacity to act as an agent for peace and security and deserve a place at the negotiation table at peace talks,” Mukwege said in his speech.
In his remarks, Hague stressed how countries must improve the condition of humanity and be optimistic about human nature.
“This must be the century in which women take their rightful place, in which hundreds of years of marginalization are forcefully and finally overturned and extinguished, in which girls are born not into a world of narrow hopes and lesser protections, but into a world of equal treatment and boundless opportunity,” Hague said.
Hague, who drew inspiration from Angelina Jolie’s activism in the field, announced that from June 10 to 14, London will, along with Jolie, host a global summit of 140 nations on the issue of women to stress the importance of incorporating more rights and security for women in government and law.
“It should be at the heart of how we view conflict prevention and foreign policy in this century. On this occasion we must acknowledge that it is still considered unusual for a man, and political to raise this issues, but rape and sexual violence are crimes overwhelming committed by men and that they should happen when the world did too little should shame all men,” Hague said.
Despite the progress the GIWPS made, all speakers spoke to the fact that these advances are only a beginning.
“I’m greatly encouraged by this award and by knowing that we are all part of this same endeavor, by taking up this cause we are shouldering a responsibility that our world has shirked for too long, and by taking it up, we must never set it down again,” Hague said. In her closing remarks, Clinton emphasized the growth of women in public life since the opening of GIWPS and her upcoming No Ceilings Program as part of the Clinton Foundation.
“From our perspective I think you can deduce that we believe that this is the unfinished business of the 21st century, giving women the tools and resources to break through the barriers that keep them from contributing to fully participating in their government’s economics and societies, and I cannot think of a better way of kicking off this work then by honoring the three men, and particularly the two that are with us today,” Clinton said.