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Countries are More Peaceful and Prosperous When Women are Accorded Equal Rights and Opportunities
Panel: Annual Discussion on Women’s Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
September 20, 2012

Statement by the Delegation of the United States
Ambassador Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe

Human Rights Council 21st Session

Geneva, September 20, 2012

Note: The following statement was prepared for delivery, but could not be read in the session due to time constraints.  It has been submitted for the record.

The United States welcomes today’s discussion on “Empowering Women through Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.”  This is an opportunity to hear from others about what they have learned from integrating gender into their human rights work, and it is a chance for us to share the work we have been doing in this important area.

Engaging women just makes sense.  Evidence shows that investments in women’s employment, health, and education are correlated with more successful development outcomes.  And experience shows that engaging women as political and social actors can change policy outcomes by making institutions more representative and perform better.  As Secretary Clinton has said, “If half of the world’s population remains vulnerable to economic, political, legal, and social marginalization, our hope of advancing democracy and prosperity is in serious jeopardy.  The United States must be an unequivocal and unwavering voice in support of women’s rights in every country, on every continent.”

Advancing the status of women and girls takes many forms.  In the field and in Washington, we are working to bolster participation and leadership opportunities for women in local and national governments, civil society, and international and multilateral forums.  We are unleashing the potential of women to spur economic development by addressing the barriers that discourage women from contributing to their fullest extent in formal and informal economies.  We are working to advance the status of women and girls, including the most vulnerable such as women with disabilities and those from ethnic and religious minorities.  We are also working to improve the status of women and girls in conflict-affected areas through the U.S. National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security framework, and we welcome collaboration with the other countries that have their own National Action Plans on UN Security Council Resolution 1325.

While we continue to promote the rights of women globally, the Obama Administration has expanded our gender equality horizons, actively promoting the advancement of women and girls in all spheres, particularly noting how vital their contributions are to advancing economic prosperity and social inclusion and reducing cultural barriers to their participation.  The UN has been a leader in ongoing efforts to mainstream gender into its policies and processes.  We believe that continued promotion of gender equality principles it is a good thing for all states.  We share the belief with many present that countries are more peaceful and prosperous when women are accorded full and equal rights and opportunities.