Monday March 28, 2011 | 02:43 PM

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says a Senate resolution stressing the need for women’s rights in the context of bids to form democracies in the Middle East and North Africa underscores U.S. efforts “to build capacity for good governance, allow all citizens to participate, and ensure that the human rights of all, including those of women, are respected.”

Taking the lead on the resolution this week in the Senate will be Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, and all 16 other female senators have signed on to the resolution, including Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine. Snowe’s office unveiled the resolution last week.
The resolution states that its goal is to honor “the women in North Africa and the Middle East who have worked to ensure that women are guaranteed equality and basic human rights,” and to emphasize the “vital importance of women’s rights and political participation as leaders in North Africa and the Middle East consider constitutional reforms and shape new governments.”
The senators say that while women waged protests for democracy side-by-side with men, they are in danger of being relegated to the sidelines when new governments are put in place.
Clinton released a statement today thanking Snowe and the other senators for, “Shining a spotlight on the critical role women continue to play in the dramatic events sweeping North Africa and the Middle East.  I fully agree that women must be included in every aspect of political and institutional reform, because we know that no government can succeed if half its population is excluded from the process.”

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Kevin Miller is Washington bureau chief for the Portland Press Herald and MaineToday Media. He has worked as a journalist in Maine for 6 ½ years, covering the environment, politics and the State House. Before arriving in Maine, he wrote about politics, government and education for newspapers in Virginia and Maryland.
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