News Archives

A New Public-Private Partnership With the MAC AIDS Fund to Combat Gender-Based Violence in South Africa

SECRETARY CLINTON: Good afternoon, everyone. Please come back here, come right in to the Treaty Room, all our friends from MAC and our friends from the building and our ambassador – where’s our friend? There you are. Excellent, excellent.

Well, first let me welcome everyone here, and I especially want to welcome the Deputy Chief of Mission from the South African Embassy, Johnny Moloto. I’m delighted you could be here for this very important announcement of an exciting new partnership that touches on two of our greatest challenges and two very high personal priorities for me: stopping violence against women, and stemming the tide of HIV/AIDS.

I have worked on these two issues for a very long time, and as a result of that work I have met survivors of sexual attacks around the world. And this is not just a problem that exists somewhere far away; it is very real and very present in the lives of women and girls everywhere. And it doesn’t just harm a single individual or her family or her village; it shreds the social fabric of humanity that binds us all together.

When the scope of a problem is so wide-ranging, we need a response that is just as broad. That’s why the United States is taking a multi-pronged approach that addresses not only rape and sexual assault, but also human trafficking, child marriage, and related issues. We’re working to expand economic opportunity and legal protections for women and to improve their access to health care.

The partnership we are announcing today is part of that wide-ranging approach, because when a woman is raped or if she cannot negotiate with her partner for safe sex, she risks being exposed to HIV. We cannot stop the epidemic of HIV unless we also address the epidemic of violence against women.

Since 2006, USAID and the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, PEPFAR, have invested approximately $19 million in an effective model developed by the Government of South Africa. This model provides a range of services to survivors of sexual violence, from emergency medical care to counseling and HIV testing. It also helps bring criminal cases to court faster, and it has improved conviction rates.

Soon we will expand this work through a new partnership with the MAC AIDS Foundation. This is a foundation that is well known to me. I’ve had the privilege of working with it in the past. And we are so proud to have these outstanding partners join us so that this program can benefit more people in more places.

Now I’d like to invite John Demsey, Group President of the Estée Lauder Companies and Chairman of the MAC AIDS Fund, to say more about this partnership.


MR. DEMSEY: Thank you Madam Secretary. As Chairman of the MAC AIDS Fund, I and we are deeply honored to be here today with Secretary Clinton to announce the launch of what we believe is an innovative public-private partnership between the U.S. Department of State Office of Global Women’s Issues, the Government of South Africa, and the MAC AIDS Fund to combat sexual violence and HIV/AIDS in South Africa. I would like to recognize and most thank Secretary Clinton and Ambassador Verveer for their deep commitment and leadership on women’s empowerment globally, which has built the framework for this important partnership.

I am delighted to announce that today the MAC AIDS Fund will commit $2 million in U.S. dollars across the next two years to expand services for survivors of sexual assault in South Africa through the expansion of the Thuthuzela Care Center Network. This grant was made possible via the sale of Viva Glam lipsticks and lipglass products around the world from MAC Cosmetics. Since the inception of Viva Glam’s campaign in 1994, MAC Cosmetics has dedicated 100 percent of the selling price of Viva Glam products to the MAC AIDS Fund to support programs for men, women, and children affected by HIV and AIDS around the world.

When the founders of the MAC AIDS Fund first conceived the Viva Glam campaign, they had an idea and a hunch that a campaign combined with the spirit and energy of fashion, with the endorsement of very genuine set of celebrity spokespeople, could play a unique role in raising awareness of HIV and AIDS and funds for much-needed programs around the world. I don’t think that we ever could have envisioned the impact and reach that the Viva Glam campaign and Fund have had over these past 16 years. To date, the campaign has raised over $218 million for HIV/AIDS programs around the world, enabling the Fund to support the types of cutting-edge programs such as the Thuthuzela Care Center Network that we’re here to discuss today.

I would like to thank the leadership of the Estée Lauder Companies, particularly the Lauder family; our chairman emeritus, Leonard Lauder; William Lauder, our executive chairman; and Fabrizio Freda, our president and CEO, for their unwavering commitment to the MAC AIDS Fund.

Lastly, at MAC Cosmetics we’re deeply grateful to the over 11,000 makeup artists around the world who every day tirelessly support the MAC AIDS Fund and support and are ambassadors for Viva Glam lipsticks. Without their efforts and unwavering support and our partners and customers, we would not be able to support programs such as this. I am now very pleased to introduce Nancy Mahon, Global Executive Director of the MAC AIDS Fund and Senior Vice President of the MAC Cosmetics Company who oversees the work of the MAC AIDS Fund and who will explain to you a little bit more of the program on the ground.


MS. MAHON: Thank you, John, and thank you for your unflagging and visionary leadership that has allowed us to make such significant and generous grants like the grant we’re making today.

Sadly, AIDS has been a great friend to inequity, poverty, stigma, and the issue we’re here to discuss today, sexual violence. I will talk very briefly about why this important partnership with the Department of State under Secretary Clinton’s courageous leadership, the South African National Prosecuting Authority, and the MAC AIDS Fund will be a critical breakthrough in the field of HIV prevention and unhinge some of the lock AIDS has on the poor and underserved.

This partnership will effectively combat the issue of sexual violence and HIV by creating a welcoming and convenient place for victims of sexual violence in South Africa to go to in order to get medical treatment necessary to prevent HIV infection and deal with the trauma of their attack. And it will connect victims to legal advocates who can walk them through the process of pressing charges and accompany them to court if they like. In the world of cosmetics, we call this approach high-touch service. In the social service field, we call it getting people the care they need and deserve. And if we can create and replicate a program that decreases sexual violence and combats HIV infection in South Africa, we can, as the saying goes, do it anywhere.

At the MAC AIDS Fund, we are constantly asking ourselves how we can make the biggest difference for people at the greatest risk of infection and target our resources to address the key drivers of HIV in vulnerable populations. And this partnership, we are sure, is one of those instances. Why? Well, consider the facts. South Africa is home to the largest number of people living with HIV in the world; some 5.6 million people are infected.

To effectively fight this epidemic, we have to understand the forces that drive the epidemic in South Africa. Statistics show that in South Africa, high rates of HIV infection are directly related to the frequency of sexual violence in the country. South Africa’s rate of sexual violence is higher, sadly, than any other country in the world. Approximately 48,000 rapes are reported in South Africa each year, but experts believe the actual number is closer to 400,000. Victims of sexual violence in South Africa are more likely to become HIV-infected, and South Africans with HIV are more likely to be victims of sexual violence.

That is why the MAC AIDS Fund is a committed partner with the Office of Global Women’s Issues at the U.S. Department of State on this important issue, to provide critical support services for South African survivors of sexual violence in the company’s government-driven Thuthuzela Care Network Center. Located throughout the country, these emergency facilities provide survivors of rape and sexual violence, which the Secretary referenced, with access to needed medical, legal, and psychological services, in addition to HIV testing, prevention, and treatment programs.

The expansion of the TTC program throughout this – through this partnership will open new clinics in rural areas, providing more of the population with access to these critical facilities for the first time. It will extend operating hours for existing clinics so they are accessible at night, when many of the attacks occur. It will give victims of sexual violence the resources they need to take legal action through the very able national prosecuting authority, so that those who commit these crimes may face the consequences of their actions and survivors may be empowered.

This partnership in support of the Thuthuzela Care Network is an example of the impact the private sector can have when it works hand in hand with the U.S. Government in support of locally driven programs. Our hope is that we may encourage other private donors, corporations, and foundations to join us and the Department of State and the local government – and local governments worldwide in combating the global issue of HIV and AIDS and sexual violence as a global community.

Among all these statistics, many of which I mentioned today, one released from UNICEF this morning stands out: 72 percent of all new HIV infections in Southern Africa are among young girls. A model and a partnership such as this, if replicated in other countries, can serve as a powerful way to combat the staggering trend.

And lastly, I would just again like to thank Secretary Clinton for her personal leadership on this issue, her commitment to this issue. Partnerships are hard work with corporations and governments, and we are so very proud to stand here with you and make this very important announcement.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so much, Nancy.

MS. MAHON: We appreciate it.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you, John. Let me thank all of your colleagues, too, who have come from MAC and Estee Lauder and the Fund. I really appreciate the work that you’re doing. Thank you.


Secretary Clinton’s October 30-November 1 Visit to Cambodia

Secretary Clinton’s two-day trip to Cambodia October 30-November 1 highlights the United States commitment to enhanced, sustained, and comprehensive engagement in Southeast Asia, as well as our desire to assist the Cambodian people in their efforts to recover fully from decades of conflict, to achieve political and legal reforms, and to strengthen economic development. This trip is the first Secretary of State visit to Cambodia since then-Secretary Powell visited in 2003.

The United States has a strong interest in a Cambodia that contributes to regional stability, upholds democratic values, and integrates fully into the international economy. Our wide-ranging assistance programs touch on all aspects of Cambodian life and affirm these strategic interests. Secretary Clinton will encourage Cambodia to continue its recovery from conflict and its progress on democratic development. She will stress the importance of a credible opposition and respect for human rights in a stable, well-functioning democracy and highlight our interest in seeing Cambodia continue to play a constructive role in regional stability. She will also express appreciation for the country’s rich cultural heritage and underscore the critical role Cambodia’s young citizens play in the country’s future prosperity and development.

Sustained and Deep Engagement with Cambodia: Our engagement with Cambodia achieves a variety of political, security and humanitarian objectives. The United States provided Cambodia more than U.S. $70 million in foreign assistance this year, which goes to addressing issues such as human trafficking, HIV/AIDS, corruption, maternal and child health, and humanitarian mine action. Our maturing security cooperation with Cambodia represents a joint commitment to ensuring international peace and security, and continuing the transformation of the Cambodian Armed Forces into a transparent, accountable, and professional military. The U.S. partnership with the Lower Mekong Initiative is another example of how we are engaging with Cambodia to promote a multilateral response to the transnational challenges we all share, such as climate change and infectious disease.

A Democratic, Secure, and Prosperous Future for Cambodia: Our commitment to a democratic, secure, and prosperous Cambodia is reflected in the nearly $7 million we have contributed to the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (Khmer Rouge Tribunal), which seeks to bring to justice the Khmer Rouge senior leaders and those most responsible for the atrocities of the late 1970s, while also serving as a model for Cambodian rule of law, judicial independence, and national reconciliation. While in Cambodia, Secretary Clinton will visit Tuol Sleng, the former Khmer Rouge torture and interrogation center, will emphasize the need to fight corruption and improve transparency in all parts of the government, and will meet with opposition leaders to highlight the importance of a vibrant political arena where all voices are heard.

The Role of Cambodia’s Youth: The Secretary’s participation in a town hall event will provide an important opportunity to have a free-flowing discussion with Cambodia youth about challenges and opportunities facing the country, and how the United States can help. In turn, her outreach to Cambodia’s youth will promote an even better understanding of the United States and our shared values.


An End to Human Trafficking

Elementary students across America are taught that slavery ended in the 19th Century. But, sadly, nearly 150 years later, the fight to end this global scourge is far from over. Today it takes a different form and we call it by a different name — “human trafficking” — but it is still an affront to basic human dignity in the United States and around the world.
The estimates vary widely, but it is likely that somewhere between 12 million and 27 million human beings are suffering in bondage around the world. Men, women and children are trapped in prostitution or labor in fields and factories under brutal bosses who threaten them with violence or jail if they try to escape. Earlier this year, six ”recruiters” were indicted in Hawaii in the largest human trafficking case ever charged in U.S. history. They coerced 400 Thai workers into farm labor by confiscating their passports and threatening to have them deported.
I have seen firsthand the suffering that human trafficking causes. Not only does it result in injury and abuse—it also takes away its victims’ power to control their own destinies. In Thailand I have met teenage girls who had been prostituted as young children and were dying of AIDS. In Eastern Europe I have met mothers who lost sons and daughters to trafficking and had nowhere to turn for help. This is a violation of our fundamental belief that all people everywhere deserve to live free, work with dignity, and pursue their dreams.
For decades, the problem went largely unnoticed. But 10 years ago this week, President Clinton signed the Trafficking Victims’ Protection Act, which gave us more tools to bring traffickers to justice and to provide victims with legal services and other support. Today, police officers, activists, and governments are coordinating their efforts more effectively. Thousands of victims have been liberated around the world and many remain in America with legal status and work permits. Some have even become U.S. citizens and taken up the cause of preventing traffickers from destroying more lives.
This modern anti-trafficking movement is not limited to the United States. Almost 150 countries have joined the United Nations’ Trafficking Protocol to protect victims and promote cooperation among countries. More than 116 countries have outlawed human trafficking, and the number of victims identified and traffickers imprisoned is increasing each year.
But we still have a long way to go. Every year, the State Department produces a report on human trafficking in 177 countries, now including our own. The most recent report found that 19 countries have curtailed their anti-trafficking efforts, and 13 countries fail to meet the minimum standards for eliminating trafficking and are not trying to improve.
It is especially important for governments to protect the most vulnerable – women and children – who are more likely to be victims of trafficking. They are not just the targets of sex traffickers, but also labor traffickers, and they make up a majority of those trapped in forced labor: picking cotton, mining rare earth minerals, dancing in nightclubs. The numbers may keep growing, as the global economic crisis has exposed even more women to unscrupulous recruiters.

We need to redouble our efforts to fight modern slavery. I hope that the countries that have not yet acceded to the U.N. Trafficking Protocol will do so. Many other countries can still do more to strengthen their anti-trafficking laws. And all governments can devote more resources to finding victims and punishing human traffickers.
Citizens can help too, by advocating for laws that ban all forms of exploitation and give victims the support they need to recover. They can also volunteer at a local shelter and encourage companies to root out forced labor throughout their supply chains by visiting www.chainstorereaction.com.
The problem of modern trafficking may be entrenched, but it is solvable. By using every tool at our disposal to put pressure on traffickers, we can set ourselves on a course to eradicate modern slavery.


International Day of Persons With Disabilities

On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I join with friends and colleagues around the world to recognize December 3 as the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. Advancing opportunities and promoting the rights of disabled people has been a lifelong commitment, and I am honored to continue advocating on behalf of people with disabilities on the international stage.

The United States is proud to be a signatory to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and we look forward to continuing our efforts to support its full and effective implementation. We are also invested in including disability rights as a core focus of our efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. This global undertaking to eradicate extreme poverty and inequality offers hope to millions of people across the developing world, but much remains to be done for people with disabilities, particularly disabled women and girls. We cannot hope to achieve the Millennium Development Goals when those with disabilities are denied the opportunity to lead empowered and autonomous lives by violence or the fear of violence. Disabled people deserve equal access and opportunity within society.

In honor of this year’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities, the State Department is hosting events focused on the issues of HIV/AIDS and disability, and violence against women and girls with disabilities. These events will bring together experts with experience in disability rights, civil society, and government to help raise awareness and understanding of how to tackle these challenging issues. Our Special Advisor for International Disability Rights Judith Heumann is leading efforts at the United States Department of State to ensure disability inclusion and non-discrimination are central to all of our policies and practices, in Washington and around the globe. Together, we can help 650 million people living with disabilities today enjoy their full human rights, and achieve the vision of equality and inclusion set forth in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.


Disclaimer: The Office of Policy Planning and Public Diplomacy, in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, of the U.S. Department of State manages this site as a portal for international human rights related information from the United States Government. External links to other internet sites should not be construed as an endorsement of the views or privacy policies contained therein.