International Women’s Day is a moment to pause and reflect on the contributions of women to the world and to reaffirm our commitment to continued progress on gender equality. It’s also a powerful reminder that women are advancing peace and prosperity around the world in really remarkable ways.
I see it every day as Secretary of State.
I see it in Ukraine, where women are working on the frontlines as volunteers for the Maidan Medical Service. They are raising their voices for freedom and dignity, and we must all step up and answer their call.
I see it in Afghanistan, where women are starting companies, serving as members of parliament, teaching in schools, and working as doctors and nurses. They are the foundation on which Afghanistan’s future is being built.
I see it in Syria, where women are getting restrictions on humanitarian access lifted by offering food to regime soldiers at the checkpoints.
I see it in Mali, where women are risking their lives as advocates for women’s and children’s rights.
Everywhere I travel, in every meeting, I can see firsthand the promise of a world where women are empowered as equal partners in peace and prosperity. But here’s what’s most important: all of the fights and all of the progress we’ve seen in recent years haven’t come easily or without struggle. And we still have work to do.
Our work is not done when one out of every three women is subjected to some form of violence in her lifetime.
We cannot rest knowing that girls younger than 15 are forced to marry and that they are five times more likely to die in childbirth than women in their twenties.
We cannot hope to break the cycle of poverty if we fail to harness the talent and productivity of half the world’s population. And we cannot hope to break the cycle of war if women are not enlisted as equal partners in the work of peace.
So here’s what I’m saying and what we all need to demand: Women must be involved in the decisions that affect us all. They must have a place at the peacekeeping tables and in the tough negotiations following deadly conflict. They must have a seat on the boards of corporations that impact our economies, and they must have a voice in the halls of justice that uphold the rule of law.
When we invest in our mothers, wives, daughters, and sisters, we invest in a brighter future for the world. The United States stands ready to protect and advance the health, education, and human rights of women and girls everywhere, because women’s progress is human progress.