Voice of America (Washington, DC)

7 July 2014

Africa: Jill Biden Wraps Up Africa Trip

Jill Biden, wife of U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, is returning Monday from a week-long trip to Africa, where she stressed the need for girls' education and for women to work in government.

She wrapped up her three-nation tour in Sierra Leone, where she praised President Ernest Bai Koroma as a supporter of women's rights.

Biden said during an event Sunday that she is "inspired" by the country's encouragement of girls to finish secondary school through efforts to prevent teenage pregnancy and early marriage.

"The United States is committed to making sure girls and young women have the tools they need to succeed in their communities. And women's participation in the workforce and decision-making is critical and a source of strength," said Biden.

The event included Sierra Leone's chief justice, foreign minister and Khadija Sam-Sumana, the wife of Vice President Samuel Sam-Sumana.

Biden was joined by the head of the U.S. Agency for International Development, Rajiv Shah, and U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues Catherine Russell as they continued highlighting the benefits of women's involvement in economic development and strengthening democracy.

"Together we can do more to ensure that all women have the security and economic opportunity they deserve and their families need," said Biden.

Last month, USAID unveiled a new $231 million initiative to support girls' education programs in Nigeria, South Sudan, Afghanistan, Jordan and Guatemala.

Shah called the effort a "movement to tell the world that an educated girl has the power to lift her family and her community out of poverty."

Biden's trip included a stop in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where she visited Paniz Hospital, which treats victims of sexual violence.

She began the tour in Zambia, where she toured a school and met with officials to discuss issues the country's women are facing.

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