Democracies are strengthened by the participation of all citizens, particularly women and girls in all their diversity. That’s why President Joe Biden has made advancing women’s and girls’ civic and political participation a top priority of his administration.
Speaking at the Status of Women is the Status of Democracy event on Day Zero of the Second Summit for Democracy, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said, “We all know . . . the rights of women in many parts of the world are under threat and under attack:”
“Repressive governments are passing targeted laws to restrict women’s fundamental freedoms, including the right to free speech and assembly. Extremist actors are disproportionately targeting women and girls, especially those from historically marginalized identities like LGBTQI+ people, women from racial, ethnic, and religious communities.”
“But it’s not just in autocracies that women are being denied their full and equal rights,” noted Secretary Blinken:
“In far too many parts of the world, women and girls still do not have equal opportunities to study and work. Women journalists, advocates, politicians, and others are subject to persistent online harassment and abuse. Women who are victims of violence often do not have equal access to justice. Women are subject to discrimination that often puts them at a disadvantage.”
In the face of these forces, women and girls are leading the charge to advocate for their own rights and all human rights and democracy around the world. And they’re demonstrating the importance of having women and girls at the decision-making table.
In Afghanistan – in the face of the Taliban’s relentless efforts to erase them from daily life – women are protesting for the respect of their human rights. They are still fighting for a brighter future for their country.
In Iran, courageous women are marching in the streets, under great threat to themselves, to call for “woman, life, and freedom.”
The United States stands in solidarity with these women and all who are working for women and girls’ full, free, and equal participation in decision-making processes around the world. “Through our diplomacy,” said Secretary Blinken, “we’re committed to supporting them and advancing gender equality worldwide.”
When we succeed, he said, we not only do the right thing, but the smart and necessary thing to make our countries more prosperous, secure, and fuller of opportunity for all of our people.