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F O R E I G N S E R V I C E J O U R N A L / M A Y 2 0 1 2
stitution that protects the rights of all citizens equally, as
well as creating the economic and social structures that
underpin a future offering security and prosperity.
How Can the U.S. Help?
Real and lasting change will take time, so we must
take advantage of every opportunity to help our allies
stay on the path to democracy and inclusiveness. In par-
ticular, we must support national voices calling for
women’s inclusion and empowerment.
Such assistance need not be solely direct or financial;
moral support in our public and private messaging is key.
In addition, helping women build organizational capacity
and greater connections to civil society, regionally and in-
ternationally, will be vital.
One of the chief lessons of the Arab Spring is that
democracy is everyone’s business — women and men,
Muslim and Christian, young and old. Success comes
when everyone participates. The revolutions were not
about pitting one group against another, but people com-
ing together to bring about sustainable societal change for
a better life.
This point was driven home recently when I met with
Yemeni Nobel Laureate Tawakkol Karman. She de-
scribed the struggle as directed not only against the Saleh
regime but also against strong cultural and religious tra-
ditions used by some in the Arab world to keep women
out of power. After declaring that “the women of the Arab
Spring have come alive, and they will not go back to
sleep,” she added: “It is in the interests of dictators to keep
women out of politics.”
This is a critical juncture for American engagement
and diplomacy. Emerging leaders, often for the first time
in decades, are open to new ideas on political reform. It
is an historic opportunity for us to advocate equal citi-
zenship and opportunity for all.