There is little doubt that increasing women’s participation in the economy fuels economic growth and prosperity. Numerous studies have concluded that investing in women, and bringing them into the formal economy, is an essential to creating peace, security and a stable nation as well as advancing the status of women and girls.
Women are key drivers of economic growth in many economies, yet they face barriers to economic participation and productivity, which undermines the economic progress of entire nations. In 2010, 104 million women in 59 of the world’s economies started and managed new business ventures, generating millions of jobs and contributing substantially to their domestic, as well as the world’s, gross domestic product.
Yet women and girls around the world continue to face profound inequalities. As U.S. Representative to the UN Economic and Social Council, Ambassador Elizabeth Cousens said, “Reversing that reality, and ensuring that women and girls can participate on an equal footing with men and boys in their economies, societies, communities and families, would be among the most transformative goals we could set in the Post-2015 Development Agenda.”
That is why, under the leadership of President Barack Obama, the United States foreign policy focuses on gender equality and the advancement of women and girls.
The United States supports equitable access to quality education for both girls and boys at all levels. Keeping girls in school, especially during adolescence, is correlated with delayed sexual initiation, later marriage, later childbearing, lower rates of HIV/AIDS, fewer hours of work, and greater gender equality.
Too often, women and girls lack access to health care, which has a negative impact on their families, and their communities. Access to good health care for all, including sexual and reproductive health care, will result in a stronger, healthier population. Creating a strong health system serving a healthier population increases our chances of vanquishing major killers, such as HIV/AIDS, communicable diseases, and preventable maternal and infant death.
We are also committed to preventing and responding to gender-based violence, a cornerstone of our goal of advancing gender equality. Gender-based violence is a global pandemic that robs those affected, disproportionately women and girls, of achieving their full potential and threatens their mental, physical, and reproductive health.
The United States will continue to prioritize the empowerment of women and girls, because with gender equality, comes greater economic prosperity for communities, nations, and the world.