Mrs. CAROLYN B. MALONEY of New York. Mr. Speaker, today, I am proud to reintroduce the International Women's Freedom Act with my colleagues, Representatives Barbara Lee and Eleanor Holmes Norton. This bill is a comprehensive piece of legislation which will increase awareness of human rights violations against women, as well as provide a set of mechanisms for the U.S. to address the violations of women's human rights abroad.
The bill is modeled after the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (IRFA). IRFA created the U.S. Commission on Religious Freedom which has been successful in identifying violations of religious freedom abroad and recommending actions to Congress, the Secretary of State, and the President.
It has been clear for many years that expanding opportunities for women not only improves their position in society, but also has a positive impact on economic growth and burgeoning democracies. And yet around the world, many countries relegate women to second-class status, denying them the right to vote, restricting their travel, and limiting their access to education and health care.
The International Women's Freedom Act would ensure we have the tools to empower women on a global level. The bill would establish a Commission on International Women's Rights and would expand the duties of the existing Office of International Women's issues in the State Department and rename it, the Office on International Women's Rights. Both the Commission and the Office on International Women's Rights would be granted the responsibilities of issuing a report on the status of women's rights abroad and advising the President and Secretary of State regarding matters affecting these issues.
We need to work harder to ensure women's full participation in society. This legislation would move us closer to achieving this foreign policy