MUSCAT, Oman — Women can be a major power in convincing Mideast leaders to agree to a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace deal, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Wednesday as she urged regional leaders to embrace the rising expectations of their skyrocketing youth populations.
At a town hall meeting with civic leaders in the capital of Oman, Clinton said calls from women on both sides of the conflict in Northern Ireland had contributed to a resolution and suggested that a meeting of minds between Arab and Israeli women could provide a similar impetus for peace.
"Women played a major role in pushing the politicians to find some solutions," she said. "It was very clear that there just couldn't be a divide when people on both sides were suffering in the same way."
Clinton stressed that she had no illusions that such a process would be easy or successful, saying, "There is a lot of work that we need to do in this world to try and create this awareness."
But she said joint demands from women concerned about their families' futures could "press government and leaders to make the necessary decisions that will lead to sustainable peace."
Clinton also said that failing to address the concerns and aspirations of Middle Eastern women and youth could have disastrous consequences. She said the region is seeing a "generation larger than anything we have ever seen coming of age" and they need to heard if Arab nations want to succeed in the 21st century.
Her comments on the third stop of a four-nation tour of the Persian Gulf came as unrest among disaffected youth and the unemployed continued in Tunisia and Algeria. Clinton began her trip in the United Arab Emirates and arrived in Oman from Yemen late Tuesday. She visits Qatar on Thursday before returning to Washington.