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Diplomacy in Action

Overcoming Obstacles, Closing the Gap

Tara Sonenshine
Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs 
U.S. Capitol Visitors Center
Washington, DC
May 9, 2012


Date: 05/09/2012 Description: The Honorable Tara D. Sonenshine, Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, U.S. Department of State (right) and Shauna Shames, Ph.D. Candidate in Gender & Race in American Politics, Harvard University  © ThinkSwiss via Facebook Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Tara D. Sonenshine was a key speaker at “Overcoming Obstacles, Closing the Gap,” a panel discussion cosponsored by the Women and Public Policy Program of the Harvard Kennedy School, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and the Embassy of Switzerland.

The panel addressed a global challenge for women: Despite representing more than 50 percent of the population, they only hold approximately 20 percent of the political seats around the world.

Joining an event that included female political leaders such as Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and Swiss National Councilor Christa Markwalder, Under Secretary Sonenshine spoke about the role of the U.S. State Department as a catalyst, convener, and program resource to help empower women and girls.

“Never underestimate the power of government to spur people to act,” she told the audience at the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center. “It can provide resources for exchange programs ranging from the educational to the cultural to the sports-related. It can be a convener with its ability to bring public and private partners together at summits or conferences, generate ideas, and bring communities together. We also work with civil society. Next week, in fact, we will mark our second annual strategic dialogue with civil society, in which we engage NGOs, activists, and other members of civil society with the same commitment as we do in our bilateral dialogues with countries.”

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