"Today, a woman somewhere in the United States will be physically assaulted by her husband. In a remote village on the other side of the world, traffickers will lure a young girl away from her family and sell her into sexual slavery. In towns in every region of the globe, groups of men will harass young women as they attempt to go to school. And in a conflict-ravaged land, armed men will brutally rape a mother and her daughter, part of a deliberate strategy of war. Today and every day, women and girls all over the world will face violence simply because they are female. This gender-based violence not only harms the victims and their families, it shreds the fabric that weaves us together as human beings.
"Violence against women cannot be accepted as 'cultural' -- it is criminal. Today, as we mark Elimination of Violence Against Women Day, let us recommit ourselves – men and women in every country – to work together to end these atrocities, to hold those who commit them accountable, and to support the survivors. No woman or girl anywhere in the world should have to walk in fear or live under the threat of violence.
"When women are accorded their rights and afforded equal opportunities in education, health care, employment, and political participation, they drive social and economic progress. They lift up themselves, their communities, and their nations. But none of these benefits is possible unless girls are able to learn without fear and women are able to have autonomy and decision-making over their own lives, and those are the very things that violence and the fear of violence take away.
"The United States will continue to stand with women around the world to ensure that their rights are protected and respected, and that they have the opportunity to pursue an education, find a good job, live in safety and fulfill their own God-given potential."
The Obama Administration has made women's empowerment a core pillar of American foreign policy. Earlier this year, the President appointed Melanne Verveer to be the first ever Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues. In August, Secretary Clinton traveled to the Democratic Republic of Congo to shine a spotlight on the use of rape as a tactic of war. And in September, she chaired a United Nations Security Council session that passed Resolution 1888 to prevent and respond to sexual violence in armed conflict.