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Remarks by United States Mission Charge d’Affaires Allegra at UNCTAD Trade and Development Board
September 17, 2015

Remarks by United States Mission Charge d’Affaires Allegra at UNCTAD Trade and Development Board High-Level Session on “The Role of Women as Catalysts for Trade and Development”

UN Palais (Room XXVIII)
Tuesday, September 15, 2015
10:45-11:30 a.m.


Mr. President, thank you.  Since this is the first time we are making an intervention on behalf of the United States, and I want to take this opportunity to also congratulate you on your election as president of the TDB.  We look forward to working with you.

Mr. President, Secretary-General Kituyi, Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates. I want to thank the panelists for the interesting presentations.

The topic of the high-level segment this morning is extremely important and more timely than ever.

“Empowering women pays huge dividends,” Secretary Kerry said recently, “not just for some countries, but for all countries, for all societies.”

Ms. Abu-Shusheh emphasized the value and need for girls’ education and we certainly concur.  When girls cannot go to school and when they grow up not knowing how to read or write, that denies the world their talents:  no future women engineers, no future women doctors, no future women business owners, no future women presidents and prime ministers – and that sets us ALL back.  Sixty two million girls are not in school around the world today.

And when we read about women and girls around the world who are victims of heinous violence, the parallel is stark:  it’s indeed women EVERYWHERE who are the targets and its indeed those whose future is affected.

Globally, 1 in 3 women will experience gender-based violence in her lifetime.  When a woman’s dream comes second to a man’s dream, OUR global prosperity is at stake.

Women make up more than 40 percent of the agriculture labor force.  And yet, only 3 to 20 percent of them are landholders.  In Africa, women-owned enterprises make up as little as 10 percent of all businesses.  In South Asia, that number is only 3 percent.  And despite representing half the global population, women comprise less than 20 percent of the world’s legislators.

The United States believes gender equality is critical to our shared goals of prosperity, stability, and peace.  That are the words we use; promoting gender equality is the action we need.  One of the United States’ foremost foreign policy considerations is the integration of the rights of women and girls.

And we’re very active here in Geneva.

When U.S. Ambassador Hamamoto and UN Director General Møller launched the Geneva Gender Champions initiative last July, they asked each international organization and foreign mission in Geneva to make three commitments.

The first one is a pledge for inclusive panels. Director General Møller led the way by pledging to no longer accept invitations to serve on panels without any women participants.  The other two commitments are tailored to each champion’s specific priorities.  That’s three commitments for a single goal:  to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment.

I hope that Secretary-General Kituyi and UNCTAD will join this network soon.  The heads of 16 UN agencies and international organizations based in Geneva and the permanent representatives of 30 foreign missions have already said “Yes” to be Gender Champions. And we need more and more gender champions — everywhere.

No country can truly get ahead if it leaves half of its people behind. “The single best indicator of whether a nation will succeed,” President Obama said recently,” is how it treats its women.”Yes, as the title of this session makes clear, women are catalysts for trade and development; quite simply, women are the catalyst for success in every region of the globe.

Thank you again to Secretary-General Kituyi for his leadership.  And thank you to UNCTAD for its commitment and efforts to raise gender equality.