Clinton To Tunisian Students: Building ‘Modern Economy’ Will Take Time
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called for economic opportunities for young people during a town hall-style appearance to Tunisian students over the weekend.
“The riot police are gone, and the pepper spray no longer fills the air,” Clinton said. “But it is true that building a sustainable democracy and a modern economy, guaranteeing the universal rights of all Tunisians, the freedom of speech, the freedom of press, the freedom of religion, the freedom of association, all of that takes time to firmly establish.”
A challenge facing Tunisia and other countries in the developing world is the heavy demographic presence of young people. That phenomenon calls for a nimble economic model that can create enough jobs to maintain a healthy economy, according to Clinton.
Clinton also made a point to connect women's rights and youth empowerment during the appearance. During a question and answer session following her comments, she spoke out in favor of individual women choosing whether to wear head scarves, rather than enacting legislation relating to the traditional garment.
“Young people are at the heart of today’s great strategic opportunities and challenges, from rebuilding the global economy to combating violent extremism to building sustainable democracies,” she said. “And I have fought, as some of you know—some of the women that I was just saying hello to who are leading change here in Tunisia—I have fought for years to put women’s empowerment on the international agenda. I think it’s time to put youth empowerment there as well.”
Tunisia, a North-African nation with a heavy Muslim presence, was the site of early events in the “Arab Spring” movement that would eventually topple rulers in Egypt, Libya, Yemen and Tunisia. A White House fact sheet on the administration's framework for investment in Tunisia, released in October, outlines plans to support the new regime using the Peace Corps, investment initiatives and humanitarian assistance.
“The United States strongly supports the Tunisian people as they continue to lay the foundation for a future of economic prosperity that strengthens civil society, empowers youth, and solidifies the foundation of democracy,” reads the plan. “Almost a year after igniting the Arab Spring, Tunisia is charting a path toward reform.”
Clinton's appearance took place during her second visit to Tunisia, according to CNN. During this trip, she will also visit Algeria and Morocco.
Jon Christian is a reporter with Campus Progress. Follow him on Twitter @Jon_Christian.
- Obama Threatens To Veto House Republican’s Student Loan Bill
- Struggling Homeowners, Low-Wage Workers Protest in D.C.
- With No Clear Trend in Youth Vote, A Challenge Awaits Progressives
- Why Millennials Aren’t Lazy, Entitled Narcissists
- How America is Falling Behind in Global Race to Expand Reproductive Rights