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Diplomacy in Action

Town Hall with Omani Civil Society


Remarks
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Bait al Zubair Museum
Muscat, Oman
January 12, 2011

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MODERATOR: (In Arabic.) Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. I’m honored to be given the opportunity to welcome Secretary of State Madam Hillary Clinton this morning. Welcome to Oman, Your Excellency. We appreciate you taking the time to visit with us today. We understand you have a very busy, demanding schedule. So we truly are grateful for your audience this morning.

Civil society is the basis for a thriving, functioning society. It is not a substitute for, but rather an ideal complement to the state-backed structures of government and commercial institutions of the market. The civil society in Oman made up of different association, commissions, and nonprofits blur the boundaries between the government and private sectors at times working independently, but more often than not with an active support of either or both sectors contributing in its own unique way to enrich the community as a whole.

His Majesty Sultan Qaboos in his far-reaching vision set up the foundation for a strong civil society early on encouraging more participation and giving people the means to be active citizen beginning his reign in July, 1970 with these words: “My people, I will proceed as quickly as possible to transform your life into a prosperous one with a bright future. Every one of you must play his part towards this goal.”

The people of Oman took up His Majesty’s goal, and today the role played by various NGOs and nonprofits across the sultanate is vital in raising awareness about important issues, organizing relief programs, and providing services at the grassroots level. Civil society initiatives in Oman have been able to indirectly affect change in public policies by engaging and motivating people to work together towards the greater common good whether it being the field of cancer awareness, disabled welfare, environment concerns, or education. The list goes on.

Initiating and coordinating events and outreach programs that matter to the people is the driving force behind all the work that is carried out in the daily basis by dedicated individuals who volunteer their time and effort to affect the change they want to see in their communities. It is gratifying to see everyone, citizen and expatriates alike, working together. We have seen repeatedly that the determination of a dedicated few can achieve much. There are always challenges that are faced, especially when setting up unprecedented initiatives. But anyone who does this type of work will assure you volunteerism is its own reward.

I’m very grateful to be able to contribute in whatever small way I can to promote this growing nation. However, I remain aware of what a great privilege it is to be able to carry out the work we do, and I’m humbled by His Majesty’s vision and the overwhelming positive response received from different government institutions, members of the private sector, and the individual philanthropist, as well as the support we receive from regional and international affiliates who generously share their experiences and best practices with us. Together we can and we do make a difference.

Once again, thank you, Your Excellency. We appreciate you taking the time to address these important very relevant issues with members of the civil societies here in Oman. You are a renowned champion of human rights and civil society and have galvanized a global movement for women rights as the First Lady, the first female elected to the U.S. Senate, and now as the Secretary of State. We hope you will have a chance to visit some of the impressive sites we have in Oman during your short stay and enjoy some Omani hospitality before you return to your snowy winter weather in the States.

You need no introduction, Madam Secretary. Please take the platform.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so much. (Applause.) Thank you. Thank you very much, Yuthar, and thank you for your leadership on behalf of civil society and, in particular, awareness of cancer and other health challenges. It is wonderful being here. I want to thank Ambassador and Mrs. Schmierer for helping to arrange this town hall meeting.

I want to also thank the Zubair family for inviting us into this really impressive complex, and I had a chance before coming into the room to see a traditional Omani home and become convinced that the use of wind is a probably more efficient way to cool than the use of air conditioning.

And I am so pleased to be here in Oman. This is my first visit. It is, unfortunately, going to be a short one. So it will whet my appetite, and I will particularly think of Oman as I return back to all that snow and cold weather.

But I, first and foremost, wish to underscore the point that because of His Majesty’s vision 40 years ago, Oman has made more progress than any other nation in the world in the last 40 years. According to the United Nations statistics, I am now in the country that has shown greater progress. And in addition to the improvements in the lives of the Omani people, Oman stands out as a nation that has achieved not only stability at home, but peace with your neighbors and the kind of human progress that is especially important. America values your country and the people of Oman as a friend and partner.

The free trade agreement that we signed in 2006 has brought our people even closer together and helped to create jobs and widen prosperity in both of our countries. We certainly see that agreement not only as an opportunity to open markets and exchange goods, but to exchange ideas about sustainable development and how to, as we connect with the global economy to ensure that we provide benefits to all of our people.

I know that human security is not just an absence of violence; it is the presence of opportunity. And Oman has shown that it is possible for a nation to focus on education, to empower women and girls, and to put people at the center of its development strategy. I was told in preparing for my visit that just 40 years ago the entire country had only three primary schools which educated fewer than 1,000 boys and no girls. And today, you have universal education, something that is still not obtained by every country in the region and beyond. You have women and men studying at the universities.

And it is apparent to me that when the UN Development Program ranked Oman as the world’s most improved country in human development since 1970, it was because not of the great infrastructure, the impressive modern airport, all of the physical manifestation of a country that has worked hard for 40 years, but because of the quality of the improvement in people’s lives.

I think that education remains a key to Oman’s future. That’s why we’re working together with the ministry of education and civil society to recruit talented students for exchange programs like the Fulbright Scholarship, Women in Science, and Leaders for Democracy Fellowship. The number of Omanis studying in America is on the rise, but I personally would like to see it grow even more.

We see a generation larger than any we have ever seen coming of age in the greater Middle East. And these young people are looking for opportunities and freedoms and greater voice in their societies. Yesterday in Sana’a, I had a town hall, and most of the people there were young people, students, young graduates of university, and we ended the town hall with a young woman and a young man who expressed their desire to make a contribution to their country, and how they can see your neighbor provide some of the same benefits that are provided here.

I think that the challenge facing countries in the 21st century is to recognize this high expectation. Young people today are connected globally, but focused locally. They want to see improvements in their own circumstances. And that’s where nongovernmental organizations come in, because as committed as governments can be – and certainly the government here of His Majesty is very committed as we have seen for the last 40 years – governments need partners. And some governments recognize that and embrace civil society, and some governments try to shut the door to citizens working to improve themselves and their communities.

We believe in the United States that nongovernmental organizations play a critical role in helping to empower citizens, articulate needs, push for education and healthcare, progress in human rights and the rule of law. And we know that there are many Omani groups, like the General Federation of Oman Trade Unions that protect the rights of people who work in Oman today – not only laborers, but graduates of universities.

I also want to acknowledge the efforts of Tawasul, the first independent think tank. And through its We Work project, it’s increasing the capacity of local organizations to engage in public discussion and to train female candidates for this year’s consultative council elections. And while I’m at it, I want to congratulate the all-female Omani teams who in recent years have won youth entrepreneurships contests across the Arab world.

There’s so much I want to learn from you, and I’m looking forward to our discussion today to hear your ideas, your questions about what we can do as partners and friends to continue to provide greater opportunity, and some of the views that you have about what more can be done in your own country and in the larger region.

Coming from Yemen as I did yesterday and landing here in your country has certainly highlighted the challenges that exist within a very small geographic area. And we have to ask ourselves in addition to good leadership, which Oman has enjoyed for 40 years – and I will congratulate His Majesty on the 40 years of his leadership – what are the other ingredients that has made Oman so successful. Because if I could bottle it, I would take it to some other places near and far and try to persuade leaders and citizens alike to make the same decisions, to walk the same path, and to recognize that when we invest in the future of our young people, we are doing the most important work we are called to do here on earth to give our children a chance to fulfill their own God-given potential. Thank you all very much. (Applause.)

MODERATOR: Thank you, Your Excellency, for an informative and inspiring talk. Can you hear me? Everybody can hear?

Okay, ladies and gentlemen, before I open the floor for questions, I would like to tell you that around – we’ll have just not a lot of time. So please if you can keep your interjection as short as possible so that we have more time for everybody to speak and ask questions, or just make a short remark.

Please introduce yourself briefly before asking your question or making your comments. There is an interpreter on hand, so you can you address your remarks to Madam Clinton in both Arabic and English. I have an honor to ask the first question.

SECRETARY CLINTON: It’s the prerogative of the moderator. (Laughter.)

MODERATOR: Your Excellency, where are areas, in your opinion, given your recent tour of the region, where civil society can play a more active role?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I certainly believe that Yemen is an example of that. Now, Yemen does have a very active NGO community. Many thousands of NGOs have formed, but they don’t yet have the voice and the space that would enable them to contribute as much as possible to their nation’s future. So that’s one example. And in other countries in the region, civil society is really just taking off. It doesn’t have the 40-year history that you were referring to, Yuthar. And there are so many needs not only in this region, but around the world. I’ll just mention one, because I see it increasingly, and that’s how to help people with disabilities, because there are so many more people, young and old, who survive that didn’t survive 40 years ago who have disabilities of various sorts and societies have to work to try to find ways to empower such people. This is something I’ve worked on for many years in my own country, but I hear about it.

I’ll be in Qatar later, and we’ve been talking with the Qataris about their desire to do more for people with disabilities. So there’s a growing awareness of the need, and as we thankfully and hopefully see people living longer, it’s more likely that more of us will have some infirmity due to age if nothing else. And so working to try to encourage changes that support people with disabilities is an area that is just beginning to be paid a lot of attention in the region.

MODERATOR: Thank you, Your Excellency. Now, I will open questions to the floor. Anybody who would like to ask a question, please, so we can get the mike to you. Can you get the mike here in the front, please?

QUESTION: (Inaudible), and I’ve also had the honor of serving in the U.S. Embassy before, and I’m now working with a variety of NGOs. I would – actually I had a few questions, but they were on different topics. Since the topic going to be on civil society, I would like to draw on your comment and your question – and your comments regarding the use. They are connected globally, but focused locally, and how we have to help them identify the needs and organize them.

I would like to have this in mind and ask what is the essential component within the U.S. foreign policy to address these issues basing in mind the answer to the question that what made Oman successful is that mutual respect and none assumption. Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, that’s an excellent point. As I say, I wish I could bottle the ingredients that have worked so well to promote human development here in Oman. But in American foreign policy, I have asked my team in the State Department to put together a policy aimed at empowering and equipping young people around the world to meet the challenges that they confront. We are looking at a wide range of ways of trying to assist young people, particularly in developing less-developed countries.

Now, technology is a thing that can be both positive and negative. On the positive side, it does open all kinds of windows of information to people that can help equip young people with a vision about their own future, an access to information and even education, long distance if necessary, that can be of assistance.

So we are looking to see how we can better use access to information. For example, we are running contests in Africa and asking young people to design applications that will solve a problem in their community. And we’ve just given out some of the first awards and here are two examples. One is using cell phones for farmers to get information about the weather and prices that they never had access to before. They’re often in areas without electricity. So thanks to wireless technology, you now have small land-holding African farmers connected to the global marketplace. Another example: Using cell phones so that pregnant women can get access to information about how to have a better pregnancy – what to eat, what signs to look for in case of problems, and the like. So those are two examples about how technology has helped – and it’s young people doing it. It’s certainly not people my age doing it. It’s young people who are designing these applications.

Another is the educational exchange that I mentioned in the – in my remarks. The more we can exchange views and the more that people can visit each other’s culture, attend classes in another’s country – when I was in Dubai, I met with what are called the Clinton Scholars, and these are young Americans in a program named for my husband set up by the Government of Dubai to bring young American students for a semester – study Arabic, study Islam, meet people, go into people’s homes. We want to do more of that going in both directions because we think that is also a way to have the kind of people-to-people contacts that you can’t really accomplish just through technology.

And finally, we are working in the Obama Administration to promote entrepreneurship. We held our first President’s Entrepreneurship Summit last year and we focused on the Muslim world, in particular the Middle East, North Africa, but as far away as Malaysia and Indonesia. Because we want to have a conversation with governments about how to open up their economies so that more young people feel they can start businesses and can be entrepreneurs, whether it’s in internet businesses or more traditional businesses. And we’ve created, online, a network of entrepreneurs to provide assistance, answer questions, help with business plans. Because there is so much potential for economic opportunity, but it hasn’t been developed in many parts of the world.

So those are three of the ways we’re trying to open doors to young people around the world as part of our foreign policy.

MODERATOR: Thank you, excellent. Another question? Can we have the lady there? Sorry, I didn’t see her face on my – thank you.

QUESTION: Hello, I’m Wanna Handan. I’m working in ISAC. We’re a student-run organization globally and we’re working on some of the things that you just mentioned – exchange, which is our core program, where we send Omanis abroad and we receive internationals working here – here, sorry.

And my question to you is: How do you see the cooperation between youth, namely in ISAC, and the U.S. Embassy here to support your initiatives which you just mentioned?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I would like to be sure that our embassies, our Ambassador and our teams here in Oman help support, with technical assistance and with small funding grants where appropriate, groups like what you’re describing, that are operating on the ground, in your own culture, based on your own assessment of what the needs are.

I mean, the last thing in the world I want is for me as Secretary of State or our Ambassador or anyone else from our country coming and saying, “Oh, here’s what we think Oman needs.” That’s not the kind of partnership and friendship we are seeking. What we want to do is to say, “Well, how do you think you can best provide more opportunities, empower young people, connect up to not only the global economy, but sort of the global information network?” And then to try to support what you do here locally.

It was very touching to me yesterday in Yemen. One of the young women who asked a question said that she had gotten a good education and then a chance to study in the United States, and then her goal is to come and live in Yemen and help her own people, she said. But sometimes, the people around her say, “Well, you went away for education, and so you’re bringing foreign ideas,” when what we want is to provide as much education as possible in order to help equip particularly young people to work within their own societies. And that is our goal and that’s why we want to find more ways of trying to help do that.

MODERATOR: Thank you. Okay. Another? Should we have – sorry, can we have somebody here in the front? I’m trying to sort of divide it. Please.

SECRETARY CLINTON: It’s always the hardest job – (laughter) --

MODERATOR: It is.

SECRETARY CLINTON: -- is picking the hands.

MODERATOR: Wait till I finish, then I’ll have the hands. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, a very warm welcome to Oman. If you allow me to start with a critical part of the queries, I work for the Environment Society of Oman and the issue of the United States positioning on climate change since the failure of COP 15 and what has happened in – lately in Cancun does not bring great news to environmentalists.

Is there – we look upon EPA, for example, the Environment Protection Agency in the U.S. as one of the beautiful examples of how the federal agencies can work together in order to harness environmental concerns. But in terms of the U.S. position regarding climate change and issues of this nature post-Kyoto Protocol, what is it that we are looking at in this term? Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, thank you for that, and thank you for your obvious interest and commitment to this issue.

Let me start by saying that President Obama and the Obama Administration are very committed to doing everything we can to deal with the threats posed by climate change. And although the President was unable to achieve the legislative solution that he sought through our Congress, that has not prevented his Administration from moving very forcefully in regulation and action through Executive Branch agencies – the Environmental Protection Agency, of course, being the principal one. So, the so-called EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, is proceeding with the authority it already has to regulate emissions. And I think that there – it remains controversial in our country for political and ideological reasons, but it is a very high priority.

Secondly, I have a slightly different and perhaps more positive view about both Copenhagen and Cancun. It is absolutely true the international community was unable to arrive at the overall comprehensive approach that many believed was necessary. But starting in Copenhagen, a very important step forward did occur, namely, that the developed countries such as the United States and the rapidly developing countries such as China and India, Brazil, agreed that there had to be a framework that would calculate and evaluate emissions, and that it had to be transparent so that the information was universally available on the internet so that the world could see how both the developed and the developing countries were dealing with climate change.

Now, that was not accepted at COP 16 – or COP 15, but it was a principle that we found at Cancun provided the foundation for what was accepted by the conference. And there were some important commitments made in Cancun that yes, there had to be transparency and publicizing of what emission levels were, what regulatory and legislative actions countries were going to pursue. And very importantly, for developing countries, particularly poor countries, and especially island nations that are literally at threat of being overwhelmed by ocean level rise, there was a commitment to a financial package that would help such countries mitigate against that damage.

So we certainly were disappointed that we didn’t have the legislative framework that the President had sought, but we were satisfied that given the progress that was capable, we were putting, to use an American phrase, points on the board. Now, there’s much more to be done, and we look forward to COP 17 in South Africa where we can evaluate what has been accomplished, and take additional steps.

So I think that the glass may be half full or half empty, depending upon how one looks at it, but two years on, we’ve actually moved from rhetoric to a framework for action that is going to at least make something of a difference.

MODERATOR: Thank you. Any more questions? Somebody in the middle there, can you just get a mike? There are three people, actually. You have to choose now.

QUESTION: (In Arabic.)

MODERATOR: Can you answer – a translator there?

SECRETARY CLINTON: We have a translator right there.

MODERATOR: Yeah, okay.

QUESTION: (In Arabic.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: You have to stop so the translator can translate as you go. (Laughter.) I always make that mistake; I get carried away.

MODERATOR: I didn’t want to disturb her.

INTERPRETER: Madam Secretary, basically, the question is that this is Amira Actalavi. She worked in academia and she’s very impressed by you being a female U.S. Secretary of State as well as a wife and a mother. And very recently, your daughter got married and --

QUESTION: (In Arabic.)

INTERPRETER: What are the suggestions that you would put forth to tell women in this region – for every woman to believe how she can fulfill her own aspirations and rise up to the expectations?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think this is probably the most common question I’m asked everywhere in the world, whether it’s a country in Latin America or a country in Asia or Africa or here in the Middle East. I am very supportive, as you know, in educating girls and young women so that they can make the most responsible decisions for themselves, their families, and their societies. And I applaud what Oman has done to help equip your girls and women to make those decisions.

Secondly, I believe that women should be able within their societies to make decisions about the path of life that they choose. I’ve had women friends, now going back my entire adult life, who have made very different decisions. I’ve had women friends who married early, had their children, raised their family, and then went into the workforce. I’ve had women friends who did not marry till later in life and then had their children. I’ve had many women who have both worked and balanced that work with their family responsibilities.

And what I would always hope for is that societies would respect and support responsible decisions by women and men. For me, balancing family and work has been the approach that I have taken. But I always say, because I deeply believe, that the most important job any parent has, mother and father, is caring for the next generation – one’s children and then one’s grandchildren.

So at different points along a woman’s life, you may emphasize that more than at other times. So what we want is for societies to support women being able to go in and out of the workforce, because there’s a tremendous amount of talent in 50 percent of the population. So I would like to see more support for young mothers so that they can concentrate on being the best mothers to their young children as possible. I’d like to see opportunities for women to continue their education, even when they’re raising their family, and I’d like to see more opportunities for women to combine family responsibilities, particularly motherhood, with outside employment if that is what they choose or they need.

Because certainly, when we have these discussions among people like ourselves who are educated and very privileged, we forget that every day in every society, millions and millions of women have no choice. They leave their children alone, they leave their children in the care of others because they have to work either to contribute to the family income or because they are the only source of income. And I have met with many widows from Iraq, from Afghanistan. I’ve met with many refugee women. I’ve met with many women whose husbands are far from home or even in prison because of political activity of one sort or another, in addition to women who, from economic necessity, must work.

So a woman like me had a very clear choice, and I was fortunate to have a supportive family and a situation where I could be a law professor, I could be a lawyer, I could afford to have someone in my home helping to care for my daughter when I was at work. My husband was very involved. So I had a wonderful set of circumstances. That is not the case for many, many women in my own country, let alone around the world.

So if we believe that motherhood and caring for the next generation is an important priority for every society, then let’s be sure that we help support girls and women to be able to do that and to be given the tools that they need in life to be successful at doing that.

MODERATOR: Thank you. I think there’s another, Asma. Yeah, Asma, you can come.

QUESTION: As-Salāmu `Alaykum. My name is Asma Harusi. I’m an interpreter and a businesswoman. I was honored to have been sent to San Diego for – by the State Department with MEPI, which is an executive business training, San Diego – we had a lot of interaction with MENA region, which is the Middle East and North Africa. This was two years ago, but since then we’ve been told the funds have been stopped and because the funds were set up by the Bush Administration.

SECRETARY CLINTON: No, actually we are very supportive of MEPI.

QUESTION: That was the MEET program, MEET program, and MENA region is the Middle East --

SECRETARY CLINTON: Do you know if that was the program, Richard?

STAFF: Yes, it’s for – to – for women and --

QUESTION: Yes – no, it was for men and women. We were both from Middle East and North Africa, but it was female and male.

MODERATOR: Okay. So what’s your question?

QUESTION: This was – the thing is, by doing so – which I thought it was very interactive with other – we had also the Israeli women, and we came to be very friendly, and we – I mean, I – as an Arab, focusing on all the politics coming up, Israelis are enemies, but having interacted with them, we have a lot in common.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Right.

QUESTION: I would like to know, you, as your Administration, since you’ve been in the Administration for two years, what have you done for the Arab womens to interact with the Israelis?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, it’s an excellent question, and the program that you’re referring to is one that we are very committed to. We’ve had some budget challenges that we inherited that we’re trying to work through, as you know. But the larger point you make is one that I’d like to focus on. What I have found in the work I’ve done over many years is that you cannot wipe away the history and the differences, but you can begin to create some awareness of common concerns that people have, no matter who they are and where they are.

I’ve seen this work in many different settings around the world and have been involved in it. And when I was First Lady, I helped to start a program called Vital Voices, and Melanne Verveer, who is here with me, ran it for a long time. She is now the first ever American ambassador for global women’s affairs. And part of what we’ve tried to do is to bring women from different backgrounds, whether it was in Ireland between the Protestants and the Catholics, or whether in the Middle East between Arabs and Israelis, or whether in Africa between different tribes, or in Latin America between insurgents and opposition. So we have tried to create these opportunities for people to sit at the same table and talk through their perspectives. And it is – I mean, it is really a common experience that people all of a sudden say, “I didn’t know you cared about that.”

And I’ll give you a quick example from outside the Middle East. When we were doing this work in Northern Ireland, I put together the first-ever meeting between leaders of Catholic women and leaders of Protestant women. They had never had any opportunity to sit down and visit with each other. And it was a little tense to start with because they all came with a preconception about what the other was like. And all of a sudden, they began to talk and a woman would say, “I worry every day when my husband goes to work that he may not come back alive.” And another woman would say, “I worry every night when my son goes out with his friends that he may not come back alive.” And all of a sudden, as women, as wives, as mothers, they began to realize that this violence was ripping apart both of their families and both of their communities. And women played a major role in pushing the politicians to find some solution. It was very clear that there just couldn’t be a divide when people on both sides were suffering in the same way.

Now, there is some – there’s a lot of work that we need to do in this world to try to create that awareness, because through that perhaps can come pressure on governments and leaders to make the necessary decisions that will lead to sustainable peace. I’m very committed to doing everything I can in the Middle East to bring Palestinians and Israelis, Arabs and Israelis, to lasting resolution of the ongoing conflict. And I think it can’t be done just at the top between leaders. I think it needs to also be between people, so I appreciate what you’ve said.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: How is Obama (inaudible)?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Yeah.

QUESTION: How is Obama (inaudible)?

SECRETARY CLINTON: President Obama is doing well. (Laughter.) He’s doing very well.

MODERATOR: Thank you very much. Can we have another question from the gentleman? Where he is?

QUESTION: Thank you for being here. Will we see a joint ticket at the next election, Obama-Hillary – that’s one – and what will we see different?

And the second one, you said to support social society, civil society, giving money and information – you think this will be enough or more needed? Thanks.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I am on President Obama’s team, and I’m working with him very hard. When I agreed to be his Secretary of State, many people were very surprised because I had run really hard against him, and he had run very hard against me. And I was trying to win and so was he, and he won and went on to be elected President and then asked me if I would be Secretary of State. And many people have asked me, “Well, how could you work with him and for him when you tried to beat him?” And I have a very simple answer: We both love our country, we both are committed to helping our people and trying to make a difference in the world so that our whole world is more peaceful and prosperous. So we are very committed to a lot of the same goals.

And with respect to civil society, I would just underscore that it makes such a difference to harness the intelligence and the energy of people who are willing to work peacefully toward change. There are many places in the world today where people think they can bring about change through terrorism or violence, and to me, that is very negative and causes more suffering. And to support civil society, to support people who are operating on our common humanity, is what I look for.

I just have to say this one story, because I’m so touched by it. There’s a woman doctor in Somalia, who, through all of the conflict in Somalia, has taken care of thousands of people. She’s helped women deliver their babies, she has performed surgeries. She has two daughters who are doctors, she’s a widow, her son died in a car accident, so three women alone who run this hospital on the property of her family. And when they were attacked a few months ago by young boys carrying automatic weapons who were a part of one of the terrorist groups, Al-Shabaab, they came in and they were shooting x-ray machines, and they were breaking furniture and overturning what she had spent a lifetime building up to take care of people. And they confronted her with their weapons and they were trying to take her away. And she said, “No, you can kill me, but I’m not leaving. All these people depend on me. I am trying to heal people. What are you doing to help people?” I mean, it is such a powerful story. And thankfully, so far, they have left her alone. She’s now trying to rebuild her hospital and continue serving people.

But that’s civil society at its best in one of the worst of situations. It’s not the government doing it. It’s individuals. And when she was confronting these young men, women from – who had camped out on her property with their sick babies and their injured husbands and sons, they all came and surrounded her to say, “Please, think about what we can do together to build, not destroy.” And to me, that is at the core of civil society, and it has to be protected not just in places like Oman and the United States that are peaceful, but in the worst places that have so many challenges that have to be addressed.

MODERATOR: Thank you very much. I’m sorry we cannot take any more questions. I’m really sorry, I’m sorry. She has an appointment that she has to --

SECRETARY CLINTON: But let me suggest, Ambassador, if we could open a website on the Embassy, I will – if you email me your questions or text them, I will get around to trying to answer every question --

MODERATOR: That’s very kind of you. Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: -- because I feel so grateful that we’ve had this chance to have this discussion.

MODERATOR: It’s a short time. You need to come back again.

SECRETARY CLINTON: I will come back. Thank you all very much. (Applause.)

MODERATOR: Thank you very much.

# # #



PRN: 2011/T37-10



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