Thank you, Deborah, for your kind words and for hosting us here at the Kennedy Center. It’s an honor to be here tonight.

We have Ashley Judd with us tonight. Kat will come up here and say more in a few minutes, but several years ago our paths crossed while I was at ICRW and I am so thankful she is joining us tonight and for her dedication to this work.

I also wanted to thank Vital Voices for their continued partnership and support for this event.

Distinguished Guests, thank you for your attendance at this event celebrating the strength and leadership from within this global WPS community and I hope you will all stay for the reception following the program.

The past two days have already been filled with renewed and developing friendships and connections, and I have been so inspired by the common goals shared with all the attendees on advancing the Women, Peace and Security Agenda.  The theme of this conference, as most of you know, is “Advancing the adaptability and evolution of WPS as a framework for implementing policy change.”  Yesterday at the opening session, I spoke on adaptability, tonight I will shift my attention to the evolution of WPS.

Evolution is defined as, “The gradual development of something, especially from a simple to a more complex form.”  The core tenets of the WPS agenda have always been the most simple – equality, inclusion, recognition. As we look ahead, we would like to see those simple principles evolve into a more sustainable and practical application into so many diverse sectors and issue areas around the world.

In the past decades since the passing of UNSCR 1325, avenues for advancing those core tenets, through the tireless partnership and advocacy of Civil Society leaders, the forward thinking and cutting-edge research of Academic and thought leaders, and the engagement of leaders such as yourselves, new national action plans have been forged, and more countries have had women in leadership positions.

This week, I have been most inspired by the energy, commitment, and persistence of this community. The translation of that energy into multiple avenues– collaboration, sharing best practices, learning, listening; and most importantly through support, solidarity, and strength– has propelled the WPS agenda forward.

The work we do as a community advancing these core tenets of equality is consistently met with barriers, obstacles, and roadblocks.  But when we together as women and diverse leaders are in places where decisions are being made, there is greater stability, longer-lasting peace, and sustainable avenues to address inequality and discriminatory practices.

We stand on the shoulders of giants – we would not be here if it were not for the decades of feminist activism from diverse leaders across the world.  Tonight, I hope we take a moment to recognize their sacrifices and leadership, and our own.  I hope we choose to celebrate, uplift, and honor them and ourselves in the best way possible – moving forward together with the shared goal of advancing WPS efforts through tangible action. We have been talking a lot over the past few days. I can almost hear my parents say: “Enough with the talk, go get the job done.” Let’s go get the job done.

U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future