On this Day of the Women of the Americas, I am proud to honor the women of the hemisphere who are working every day to build a better future for themselves, their families, and their societies. Unfortunately, in too many parts of our hemisphere and beyond, women are still denied rights, deprived of dignity and marginalized in the political, social, and economic spheres. The Organization of American States has designated 2010 as the Inter-American Year of Women, making this an important opportunity to redouble our efforts to ensure that women are accorded equal rights, opportunities and respect. Empowering women is a high-yield investment that results in stronger economies, more vibrant societies, healthier communities, and greater peace and stability.
The United States is working with partners across the Americas to create economic opportunity for women, advance educational opportunities, and increase public awareness, among both men and women, of the obstacles that still stand in the way of progress. In particular, we are committed to combating the scourge of violence against women in all its forms. We support efforts to increase legal and judicial protections and health sector capacity to respond to sexual and gender-based violence. And we are strengthening our fight to curb human trafficking.
The women of our hemisphere have a tremendous resource in the Inter-American Commission of Women (CIM). Established at the Sixth International Conference of American States on February 18, 1928, CIM has been the principal Inter-American forum for generating hemispheric policies to advance women's rights and gender equality. Currently under U.S. leadership, CIM is hard at work to promote public policies in the member states that contribute to ending violence against women, increasing their political participation, and achieving economic prosperity, among other priorities.
Efforts to empower women across the Americas have gained new urgency in the wake of the devastating earthquake in Haiti, which left so many homeless and in need. In the first hours after the disaster, Haitian women played a vital role in distributing emergency assistance and securing lifelines for shattered communities. In the difficult days of rebuilding that lie ahead, their determination and hard work will be crucial to Haiti’s rebirth. As we celebrate this Day of the Women of the Americas, let us reaffirm our solidarity with the women of Haiti and their families.
And let us recommit ourselves across the Americas and the world to the cause of empowering women and supporting their efforts to build a brighter future for us all.