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Kazakhstan: Mrs. Clinton Addresses Women's Conference

Almaty, 12 November 1997 (RFE/RL) -- U.S. First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton says "a country's progress depends on the progress made by women." In Almaty today, Clinton today addressed the Central Asia conference: "Women in Politics."

Clinton said "human rights are also women's rights, and women's rights are human rights." Clinton said democracy depends on each individual's access to education, health care and jobs. And the First Lady stressed that the main person in any democracy is the citizen.

Speaking of the role of women in Central Asia countries, Clinton praised the initiative of Uzbekistan women to fight for the rights of disabled children, Turkmenistan women's efforts to promote civic education through dialogues sponsored by non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and the participation of Kyrgyzstan women in NGOs to promote pension reform and legal rights. Clinton also spoke of the efforts of Kazakhstan and Tajikistan women to advance their role in society. Clinton said these efforts are a part of women's civic participation around the world.

Speaking of challenges Central Asian women face in the period of transition, Clinton mentioned lack of jobs, ignorance of women's human rights, poverty, lack of opportunity to gain education, and stress and violence in daily life.

Clinton also spoke of the need to advance the role of Central Asian women in political, economic and social spheres. She said that in America, protecting women's rights is a long-term and mainstream policy. And she said the U.S. government supports a number of programs promoting the role of Central Asian women.

Clinton said Washington is increasing its support for woman-related non-governmental organizations (NGOs), which she said are working to build democracy in Central Asia. She also said that the progress achieved by Central Asian countries in the last six years raises hopes that these countries will become democratic countries with strong economies.

One of the participants in the conference -- Zhemis Turmagametova, the Deputy Director of Kazakhstan's International Bureau for Human Rights and Rule of Law -- told our correspondent that Clinton's message will give a new impulse for women of Central Asia to fight for equal rights and to establish more non-governmental organizations, which will help women lobby for their interests on different levels. Turmagametova said she hopes Clinton's speech will also make the governments of Central Asia pay more attention to women's issues.

Clinton has traveled on to Bishkek, and visits Tashkent next.