"We know that empowering women globally – including farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa, women de-miners in Sri Lanka, a legislator in Afghanistan, or a recent college graduate protesting in Tahrir Square in Egypt – is one of the surest ways to create favorable outcomes in poverty alleviation, economic growth, and a country’s general prosperity," U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs Esther Brimmer recently told students at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas. "In fact, we know that as women progress, everyone in society benefits, including men and boys."
When you look at the breadth of challenges facing women and girls globally – including the lack of education and basic literacy skills, sexual and gender-based violence, rampant discrimination, the lack of economic opportunities and political participation, it is clear that working together with other governments, specialized United Nations' agencies, and private partners including non-governmental organizations, academia, and foundations will multiply the impact - reaching more women and girls in more meaningful ways than if the United States acted alone. "It is because of the power of these partnerships that we have been at the fore-front of bringing together diverse groups of governments, foundations, and corporations [to empower women,]" Assistant Secretary Brimmer said.
The United States has also focused on the number of women holding leadership positions. "We know there has been progress on this front; year after year we see more women entering government and taking on senior positions, including heads of state, yet the road forward has at times been rocky and the numbers disproportionate given that women make half of the global population," Assistant Secretary Brimmer continued. "When women are not serving in governments, when their voice and experience are muted, when they are not at the negotiating table, their absence has direct impact on society, on peace and security, on strengthening democracy in the communities, nations and world in which we live."
The United States continues to play a leading role, along with other international partners, in supporting empowerment of women within the United Nations system, including through membership and participation in the Commission on the Status of Women. The theme of the spring 2011 session was "Access and participation of women and girls to education, training, science, and technology, including for the promotion of women’s equal access to full employment and decent work." The upcoming spring 2012 session will focus on "The empowerment of rural women and their role in poverty and hunger eradication, development, and current challenges."
"It is clear that tapping into limitless potential of women and girls is not only the right thing to do," Assistant Secretary Brimmer concluded. "It is the smart thing [to do.]"