When women and girls are able to participate fully in public life, nations will enjoy greater prosperity, political stability and security.
“Promoting gender equality and advancing the status of all women and girls around the world remains one of the greatest unmet challenges of our time, and one that is vital to achieving our overall foreign policy objectives,” U.S. President Barack Obama said in a new Presidential Memorandum to advance gender equality worldwide.
During President Obama’s tenure, the United States has made promoting gender equality and advancing the status of women and girls a central element of U.S. foreign policy.
Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s leadership in elevating the advancement of women and girls into U.S. foreign policy has been crucial and Secretary Kerry is committed to ensuring these issues continue to receive the high-level attention they deserve at the State Department, at USAID, and across the U.S. government.
Research has shown that when women and girls, including those most marginalized, are able to participate fully in public life; when they are free from violence, and have equal access to education and economic opportunity, and health care, nations will enjoy greater economic prosperity, as well as greater political stability and security.
President Obama’s Memorandum ensures that an Ambassador at Large reporting directly to the Secretary will always head the office of Global Women’s Issues at the State Department and work to elevate these issues in our diplomacy.
Affirming the critical linkages between gender equality and broader development goals, the Memorandum also ensures that the Senior Coordinator for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment at the U.S. Agency for International Development will continue to play a prominent role in advising the USAID Administrator.
The Presidential Memorandum also establishes an interagency working group on international gender issues, chaired by the National Security Advisor, which will provide strategic guidance, promote government-wide coordination, and spur new action across agencies from the Millennium Challenge Corporation to Peace Corps to the Department of Health and Human Services.
This commitment to promoting gender equality is also reflected in the National Security Strategy of the United States, the Presidential Policy Directive on Global Development, and the 2010 U.S. Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review.
By signing this Presidential Memorandum to strengthen and expand U.S. government capacity and coordination across all government agencies, President Obama took a critical step to institutionalize efforts to promote gender equality and empower women and girls.