Today, we honor women from all corners of the globe and the unique contributions they make. For over one hundred years, International Women’s Day has been a beacon of hope for so many women on the frontlines of progress who have fought to lift up their communities, their societies and change our world.
We have made enormous progress in recent history. In the last year alone, women have marched, blogged, tweeted, and risked their lives all in the name of dignity, rights, and opportunity. Last October, the Nobel Committee took the historic step of awarding the Peace Prize to three extraordinary women for their contributions in advancing human rights.
But challenges still remain. Too many women have found their attempts to participate in government, in the economy, and in society blocked. Women still disproportionately suffer from poverty and violence. Their voices are muffled and their presence denied at the places where critical decisions are made. They face nationality laws that deny them equal rights to citizenship. And women and girls are all too frequently deprived of access to reproductive healthcare, education, and the credit needed to launch small businesses.
That is why the Obama Administration is accelerating efforts to advance and institutionalize women’s participation in making and keeping peace, including the launch of a U.S. National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security. And that’s just the beginning, because around the world, from Iraq and Afghanistan, to South Sudan, to the new transitional democracies in the Middle East and North Africa, our embassies are developing local strategies to expand political, economic, and social opportunities for women.
The United States is committed to making women and their advancement a cornerstone of our foreign policy not just because it’s the right thing to do. Investing in women and girls is good for societies, and it is also good for the future prosperity of countries. Women drive our economies. They build peace and prosperity and political stability for everyone—men and women, boys and girls. So let us recommit ourselves to a future of equality. Together, we can ensure that all people everywhere have the opportunity to live up to their God-given potential.