US to launch programs to shield African women from violence

The United States is launching a series of new programs to help shield African women from violence, the White House announced Monday.

The U.S. will provide support for three African countries — still to be named — to develop or implement national strategies designed to protect women from violence.

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The administration will also launch new programs in the Congo, Libya, Mali, Rwanda, Somalia and Uganda designed to increase female participation in constitutional drafting processes. And the U.S. will offer support to efforts that advance women's land rights and reduce election-related violence in African countries.

The announcements came after President Obama bemoaned “crippling” gender inequalities in Africa during an event last week.

“One of the things we've got to teach Africa is how strong the women are and to empower women,” Obama said.

“The most successful countries are the ones who treat their women well,” the president added. “If you are not empowering your women you are crippling your country.”

The administration also announced new initiatives designed to help businesswomen in Africa better succeed. Those efforts include three new business development centers throughout the continent that will provide assistance to female entrepreneurs and technical assistance to help female farmers.

And the White House is seeking $190 million in the 2015 budget to fund gender equality programs across sub-Saharan Africa.

The moves come on the first day of the U.S-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington, which has drawn nearly 50 African leaders to Washington.

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