Cablegate: Outreach to Women Leaders in France

DE RUEHFR #4311/01 2911509
R 181509Z OCT 07





E.O. 12958: N/A

PARIS 00004311 001.2 OF 002

Sensitive but unclassified. Please protect accordingly.

SUBJECT: Ambassador Tahir-Kheli conducts outreach to women leaders
in France about women's empowerment and integration


1. October 10-12, Senior Adviser to the Secretary of State for
Women's Empowerment Ambassador Shirin Tahir-Kheli conducted outreach
to women leaders at the Deauville Women's Economic Forum and in
Paris, reaching audiences from leaders in French politics to women
social workers in underserved areas of Paris. She appeared widely
in the French press including on France-24 television that
potentially reaches 8 million viewers, amplifying her message about
the unique and positive role women leaders are playing today on the
toughest issues including human rights, through such networks as the
Secretary of State's Women Leaders Group.


Deauville Women's Forum, Empowering Women Par Excellence
2. At the Deauville Women's Forum known as the Davos for women,
Ambassador Tahir Kheli spoke for an audience of about two hundred
women business and political leaders from around the world and
responded to questions on a panel about building trust in political
institutions. The panel included Elisabeth Guigou, Member of the
French National Assembly and Former Minister of Justice, and
moderator Christine Ockrent, respected journalist (and long-time
partner of France's Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner). She met
also with Anne Lauvergeon, Chairman of the Executive Board of Areva,
and with Laura Liswood, Senior Advisor at Goldman Sachs and
Secretary General (SYG) of the Council of Women Leaders, USA, and

organized follow-on meetings with both in Washington.

Reaching out to French Minority Audiences
3. On October 10 and 12, Ambassador Tahir-Kheli spoke with
individuals and groups active in trying to build tolerance as well
as opportunity in the troubled, somewhat isolated and diverse
suburbs of Paris. She met with a team of about 15 women social
workers as well as the mayor of the Paris suburb Bondy, both
listening to their worries about possible continued unrest if more
economic opportunity is not made available, and at the same time
offering a positive role model as a successful American woman
ambassador who is also Muslim. Ambassador Tahir-Kheli also met with
the young French Jewish author Olivia Cattan, President and Founder
of Paroles de Femmes," an advocacy group involving both Muslim and
Jewish women who are trying to improve the communication and
atmosphere for minority women who interact with public institutions
such as schools and hospitals. This group will speak at the French
National Assembly on October 25. She visited on site as well
officials of "Ni Putes Ni Soumises," a well-known French NGO working
in support of women in such areas as protection against battering.
The former president of this organization, Fadela Amara, is
Secretary of State for Housing in President Sarkozy's government.

Finally, Ambassador Tahir-Kheli addressed minority students from
French universities who have traveled on scholarship for one-year
study programs in the U.S. during a breakfast hosted by Mrs.
Stapleton at the Chief of Mission Residence.

Invitation for State Secretary for Human Rights Rama Yade

4. Ambassador Tahir-Kheli met with State Secretary for Human Rights
Rama Yade at the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs on October 12
and extended an invitation for her to actively participate in the
work of the Secretary of State's Women's Leader Group that currently
includes 26 foreign ministers and 5 heads of state. State Secretary
Rama Yade welcomed the invitation enthusiastically, pointing out
that she would confirm the appointment with the Foreign Minister.
She would then participate in the next meeting of the Secretary's
group in Greece. Also on her way to speak in Deauville at the
women's forum, State Secretary Yade emphasized that the forum is not
only international, but also an important meeting place for French
women leaders. She also mentioned her recent lobbying at the UN for
more women to join in political negotiations in war zones, and for
female peacekeeping forces that are reportedly less frightening for
women in refugee areas. Ambassador Tahir-Kheli supported this idea,
citing the successful example of India's all-female unit for
Liberia. Finally, the State Secretary raised the topic of women
refugees in Western countries including high profile women such as
Ayaan Hirsi Ali who could be harmed as soon as the spotlight is not
on them. She recommended that networks be established to assist
such vulnerable women. In closing, the State Secretary noted that
she hopes to accompany President Sarkozy to the U.S. during his
November visit.

PARIS 00004311 002.2 OF 002

Media Interest in Ambassador Tahir-Kheli's Message

5. Ambassador Tahir-Kheli offered several media interviews during
her visit. At the Women's Forum in Deauville, 24-hour news channel
France-24 (potentially 8 million viewers worldwide) interviewed her
about her participation in the panel on "What should women expect
from political leaders to restore the trust in our governance
systems?" She also briefly joined Melanne Verveer for a press
conference with the NGO Vital Voices about U.S. women's engagement
with women of the developing world. In Paris, she had two interviews
with editors-in-chief from African Magazines: Amina (circ. 55,350),
the magazine of African women and Afrique Magazine (circ. 35,000), a
pan-African international magazine directed to the 25-45 year old
audience. With them, she discussed her visit to France, her
background and the objectives of the U.S. for women's empowerment,
especially in Africa. She also did a TV talk show interview on
all-news channel France 24 about the Women's Forum and women's
power, which was aired both in French and in English. In addition,
a French reporter plans to interview Ambassador Tahir-Kheli during
an upcoming visit to U.S. for a documentary entitled "100 Muslim
Women's Voices." The documentary is expected to come out in movie
theatres and to be used in museum exhibitions.


7. Ambassador Tahir-Kheli projected several important messages to
audiences ranging from France's top leaders to the residents of the
sensitive suburbs of Paris, and these messages were effectively
amplified by the press. For Muslim audiences in France, her
presence here proved to be moving, as she offers a very positive
role model as an active and respected U.S. Ambassador who is also
both female and Muslim. She spoke with clarity and wisdom about the
unique role and responsibilities of women at the highest levels of
government, and presented the positive initiatives of the Secretary
of State in promoting and networking women leaders on key issues
ranging from the human rights plight in Burma to transparency in
government. Her visit to France was hence most productive and
appreciated. The Deauville Women's Forum continues to offer a
stellar opportunity for networking among women leaders from around
the world, and we look forward to high level participation from the
U.S. Government once again in next year's forum scheduled for
October 16-18, 2008.


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