Regarding Michelle’s question…

Michelle, this a great question and I think complicated. I am hoping for a new administration that does not inappropriately use humanitarian or health, food aid, etc. as a means of accomplishing political goals. Within that context, there needs to be room for not funding agencies including governments that are egregious violators of human rights. These issues around family, gender, violence, etc. should be monitored by the State department in its annual human rights report which, in part, informs funding decisions. And of course my new Secretary of Women will work on these issues. 🙂

Preaching from the US about sexual and reproductive rights is not productive. Our own house is not quite clean enough. So we really need to link our domestic policies and their enforcement with our moral voice abroad. Another and I think very effective mechanism for the kind of in-country changes we would all like to see is to increase funding to civil society groups in that country that have the democratic right and responsibility to seek to influence their own country’s polices. I’d much rather see the US empower women’s groups and men’s groups to work against sexist, anti-woman laws than use our stick. Where ever possible our approach should be the carrot.

This is not to say that the US should not work with government to change policies that are human rights violations. The question is method. I am anxious about denying funds but enthusiastic about government-to-government education as well as south-south collaborations where we work with multilateral agencies and with other southern countries with better records on these issues to influence violators in their regions.