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Welcome to the opening session of the WPS-Focal Points Network 5th Capital Level Meeting!

With many thanks to Kat for her kind introduction – I would like to take a moment to recognize her in her role as National Focal Point and the work she has done on this Agenda throughout her career.

I am both honored and incredibly proud to speak to you all today from my recently assumed position as Ambassador-at-Large for the Secretary’s Office of Global Women’s Issues at the Department of State.

We just heard the Co-Chair theme, and I cannot think of a better message to carry with us throughout this week. I would like to speak this morning on the adaptability of WPS. We recognize that to be adaptable is to be successful, but being adaptable does not mean we seek to diminish or limit our efforts in order to accommodate inequitable or discriminatory policies and practices.

In my view, being adaptable is rather the opposite – which is why that word is so powerful. Traditional notions of security are not inclusive – they aren’t adaptable. For example, conflict management efforts mean nothing when those who are affected, those who are responding, those who live and breathe and KNOW the daily realities of the situation are not in the decision-making spaces – and we know all too often that women are those who both experience the worst and yet are also marginalized from the solutions.

Traditional methods and practices, some of which we will hear about from the esteemed speakers today and throughout this week, can be transformed through application of the WPS agenda to become powerful tools for advancing human security – but only when people such as all of you in this room will push for it. I

want to emphasize this cannot be accomplished by just one person but can be accomplished through a community such as this one.

Essentially, transformative change requires collective transformative action.

I do believe that, even with the recent global backsliding on gender equality, there is yet hope. We now have decades of examples of feminist leadership to continue building upon, there are 107 WPS National Action Plans, legislators are engaging on WPS (we will hear from some of them today!) – including the United States passing the first comprehensive law on WPS, and gender data and analysis is becoming more comprehensive and applicable to diverse fields.

One of the biggest things I hope we can take away from this week, and something that the Network has stood for since it was founded in 2016, is the shared solidarity and partnership we have here. I believe that is the reason we have grown to 100 members this year, adding in colleagues from the Organization of American States, Intergovernmental Authority on Development, Moldova, Trinidad & Tobago, and Iraq – with more to come!

It is rare to find someone who understands both the nuances of being a WPS or gender equality advocate in government, as well as the importance of engaging not only with government partners but with civil society, academia, and other sectors. However, it is even more rare to find hundreds of people in the same situation and be able to spend days together identifying solutions, sharing best practices, and forming lasting partnerships.

The second hope I have is for tangible results to be found on implementing policy to practice. One of the avenues I am most looking forward to discussing and learning from the expertise within this Network is developing the idea of WPS Centers of Excellence – or regional hubs which respond to specific WPS implementation needs, challenges, and obstacles at regional and national levels in a cross-sectoral and intersectional manner. The standardization of these Centers and engagement with host nations and diverse sectoral partners on them for years to come is an example of a tangible result of the WPS Agenda.

This year is a big year for the United States and WPS. In addition to our Co-Chairship, we are revising the U.S. WPS Strategy and National Action Plan to be released later this year. We recognize the most important aspect of continuing to develop and adapt the U.S. WPS Strategy and National Action Plan is through collaboration and learning from partners such as you.

I want to again express how happy I am to be here today, and this week, with all of you. I would like to recognize and thank our Co-Chairs Romania, and the WPS-FPN Secretariat for their partnership, without which this would not be possible. I know there will be many opportunities for us to engage and learn from each other in the coming days and I truly look forward to it.

With that, I will turn to our UN Women partner, Sarah Hendricks.

U.S. Department of State

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