The strength of a nation depends on the success of all of its people, so any country hoping to grow and flourish must recognize the important contributions of women from all backgrounds, and enable them to succeed in their work.
Latin America has come a long way over the past two decades. Women serve in elected office, including as heads of state, they run businesses large and small, they study and they teach. Yet they still face many obstacles.
“Perhaps most appalling is the widespread violence against women in the Americas,” said U.S. Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights Sarah Sewall.
Noting that between 17 and 53 percent of all women in Latin America have been victims of physical or sexual violence inflicted by their partners, Under Secretary Sewall said that “many Latin American countries rank among the worst in the world for the number of women killed each year.”
To prevent violence against women, we must address imbalances in education, employment, and politics that reinforce a culture where women are valued less than men, where they are somehow seen as less worthy of equal respect, opportunity, and protection.
Women who have suffered violence must have a clear pathway to justice, a system that consistently enforces the law and ensures a fair and responsive judicial process.
The U.S. government works to prevent and respond to violence against women, integrate a gender perspective into our work, especially to prevent and respond to gender-based violence. In 2012, the United States developed a global strategy to tackle all forms of gender-based violence, which affects all countries around the world, including the United States.
In Latin America, we assist indigenous and African descendent women to participate in local government and advocate against violence and discrimination; we train women entrepreneurs to reach new markets; and we partner with local law enforcement to train more female police officers, prosecutors, and judges.
“We do this not only because gender equality is inherently worthwhile,” said Under Secretary Sewall. “When you broaden participation and emphasize inclusion – in business, in arts and culture, in politics – it enriches us all.”