This year marks many important anniversaries for women’s equality and empowerment around the world. The United States is celebrating the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote. In the United Nations, we are recognizing the 20th anniversary of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace, and Security, the 25th anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women, and the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women – known to all of us as UN Women.
These anniversaries provide us the opportunity to reflect on what we as Member States of the United Nations have done to work towards consensus-based solutions to empower women as agents of change globally. Anniversaries also give us an opportunity to look forward to the future, learn from where we have both succeeded and fallen short, and recommit to making an even greater impact in the lives of those women who are in greatest need.
As we reflect on lessons learned and apply them to future action, the United States is focusing on areas critical to the advancement of women: empowerment through expanded economic opportunity, and the full and meaningful leadership and participation of women in the political lives of their communities, especially in the areas of peace and security.
Despite the gains women have made around the world, there is still much work to be done. We know that too many women are still denied their unalienable human rights, fundamental freedoms, and basic human dignity by oppressive legal, political, and economic systems, and malign non-state actors.
There is no question that the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic disaster have had profound impacts on these women. Our fine speeches and proclamations are cold comfort to women who are struggling to determine where their next meal will come from, how they will keep themselves and their families safe from homelessness or violence, or how they will fight through the daily indignities of poverty, marginalization, persecution, and violence.
The real test of our resolve to advance the rights of these women will be in whether we take real action to address the issues that matter to them. History will judge whether we recognized the moment and met it with action or continued to mouth empty platitudes while arguing amongst ourselves over agendas that barely register in their daily struggles.
For the sake of our sisters who live this reality every day, the United States calls on UN Women and our fellow Member States to stop promoting divisive, self-indulgent narratives that do nothing to reach those most in need of assistance. At this critical time, we cannot afford to waste our time, energy, and resources on those issues that divide us when there is so much that can and must be done in the areas where we agree. It is our hope that for the next ten years Member States, civil society, and the United Nations will promote and fulfill an agenda that encourages meaningful contributions for women and their communities, and that has a positive and lasting impact for generations to come.