Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton presented the second 2014 Hillary Rodham Clinton Awards for Advancing Women in Peace and Security in Gaston Hall on Tuesday. This year, the honor was presented to British Foreign Secretary William Hague, founder of the Panzi hospital in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Dr. Denis Mukwege, and Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who was not present due to a conflicting NATO meeting.
Clinton stated the awards were deliberately all awarded to men. “That is not a mistake, it is a message,” she said. “This is not a women’s issue. This cuts to the very core of who we are as human beings. … When women are excluded and marginalized, we all suffer.”
Executive Director of GIWPS Melanne Verveer concurred, saying in a separate interview with the Voice that “It seemed very fitting to recognize … three men who have played an extremely important leadership role … in hopes that others will see that this isn’t just about women.”
When asked if GIWPS had received any criticism over awarding only men, Verveer said GIWPS has received an overwhelming positive response and outpouring of emails, tweets, and phone calls. “I think people were moved, and in this fast-paced world, when we often seem to forget what’s important, these kinds of compelling opportunities bring us together,” she said.
In his acceptance speech, Mukwege said, “Rape is not only an attack on women and girls, it is an assault on humankind,” and argued the only way to put an end to sexual violence is to engage men and boys. Hague continued the sentiment, calling for an end to rape as a weapon of war.
Prior to the event, Hague had joined Secretary of State John Kerry in an announcement of a ban against issuing U.S. visas to any foreigners implicated in wartime sexual violence, which Hague applauded.
“I believe that the sort of measure that [Kerry] just announced … is exactly the sort of thing that governments should be doing … to address [sexual violence],” said Hague.