The Americas present us with a paradox, said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during her recent visit to Ecuador: "Economies are growing, but still prosperity reaches too few. Trade is flourishing, but still extreme inequality persists. . . . Democracy is taking hold, but still delivers too little for too many."
Nations cannot become productive with competitive economies without harnessing the potential of all their people, said Secretary Clinton. "We cannot strengthen and sustain democracy when too many people face limited opportunities for themselves and their children.
"Fundamental obstacles to opportunity and inclusion remain everywhere. And the first step in being able to address those obstacles begins with truly empowering people to take responsibility for their own lives and to be given the tools to do so," she said.
Governments can provide those tools. First, every child must have access to high-quality education that prepares him or her for a productive life. Women and girls must be empowered, because if half the population is left behind, our hemisphere will be left behind.
More workers and businesses must have access to jobs in the formal economy. Informal, or off the books, unregulated employment means that workers remain isolated from credit and services. They don’t pay taxes, earn less money, and face greater difficulties providing for their families.
Individual nations must invest in the infrastructure needed to support social mobility and competitive economies – roads, power plants, airports, health systems, schools. Such investments expand the economic pie so that all citizens can have a greater share of economic growth. "Those economies that are investing today in those services and that infrastructure are preparing themselves for the future," she said.
"Let us work to tear down barriers to opportunity, to create more inclusion, more justice, more democracy that really delivers results for people who historically have been left on the margins of society. And this concept of shared responsibility means that the United States will do our part."
In this way Secretary Clinton called on all the countries of the Americas to work together to build the foundation of a structure of sustainable opportunity in the Americas.