Advancing the full participation of women and girls in the political, economic, and social realms is a key goal of U.S. foreign policy.
The United States has worked with partners all over the world to increase women’s participation in civil society and in local and national governments. We have encouraged other governments to remove legislative and cultural barriers that lock women out of the formal economy, because no state can prosper if half of its people cannot participate. And we have emphasized the necessity of including women’s perspectives in all aspects of peacemaking, peacekeeping, and peace building.
Nonetheless, gender discrimination, inequality, and violence against girls and women persist in every country around the globe. Women and girls are disproportionately affected by poverty and have limited access to educational opportunities, land and property ownership, and financial services. Women’s participation in politics and civil society is limited, often by law.
Adolescent girls in developing countries face particular challenges, including poorer educational outcomes; gender-based violence, traditional harmful practices such as early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation or cutting, and higher vulnerability to disease and infections, such as HIV.
That is why, in early July, Secretary of State John Kerry directed all State Department bureaus and embassies to increase efforts to promote gender equality and advance the status of women and girls. This includes promoting women’s economic and political participation by addressing discrimination, fostering entrepreneurship and leadership; supporting U.S. initiatives to prevent gender-based violence; empowering girls; and by advocating on the international stage for issues affecting women and girls.
“The United States continues to support measures aimed at correcting the underlying injustice of gender inequality and discrimination,” said Daniel Baer, U.S. Ambassador to the OSCE Permanent Council in Vienna. “We remain committed to unlocking the power and potential for progress that women and girls represent . . . . around the world. The barriers that bar the full participation of women in the economic, social, and political lives of their countries, be they overt or concealed, written or unwritten, must be demolished in order to maximize the peace and prosperity of all nations.”