Women and girls make up half the world’s population. Yet far too often, their voices and experiences go unheard or unheeded. They are underrepresented in the halls of political and economic power and overrepresented in poverty, while barriers from gender-based violence to laws that hold women to a different standard block the path to progress.
The low status of women and girls has vast political, economic, and social implications. It can limit the ability of communities to resolve conflict, countries to boost their economies, or regions to grow enough food.
That’s why the State Department has an entire office devoted to women’s issues. With origins dating back to 1995, the Secretary’s Office of Global Women’s Issues (S/GWI) has a mandate to promote the rights and empowerment of women and girls through U.S. foreign policy. Headed by an Ambassador-at-Large, the office leads the Department’s efforts to include women and girls in U.S. diplomacy, partnerships, and programs.
As a policy office with a small stable of innovative programs, the office serves as a resource for U.S. diplomats in Washington and around the world. It also leads on the Department’s priorities around gender equality, including gender-based violence, women’s economic empowerment, women’s participation in peace and security, and adolescent girls.