On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I’m proud to recognize the women of the hemisphere whose challenges and triumphs we honor with today’s celebration.
Women in the Americas are working to promote strong and vibrant democracies, advance the region’s commitment to the rule of law, and uphold fundamental human rights and freedoms. They are cabinet officials and heads of government. They serve in executive positions in the largest private sector entities in the hemisphere. Women in the Americas are strengthening our societies, communities, and families, and building a brighter future for all the people of the region.
But there is still more work to be done. In every aspect of society – political, social, and economic – fully empowering women remains a challenge. Too often and in too many places in the Western Hemisphere there is inequality in education, health, economic opportunities and political empowerment. And these are necessary to promote more open societies, more vibrant cultures, more productive businesses, safer communities, and the overall heath and stability of all our children and families.
Far too often and in too many places in the region, violence against women runs rampant. Some women, especially poor and less educated, live with the threat of being trafficked into modern-day slavery. In order for us to combat these challenges we must commit to better training for our law enforcement, improved support for families, and greater equity in our legal and judicial systems.
A key player in tackling these challenges is the Inter-American Commission of Women (CIM). As the principal Inter-American forum for generating policies to advance the cause of women and promote gender equality, their role in ending this scourge is invaluable, and we look forward to strengthening and deepening this partnership to ensure women’s rights.
It is more imperative than ever that sexual and gender-based violence be eliminated for the future safety, security and prosperity of the Western Hemisphere. The United States remains committed to working with our partners across the Americas to create new opportunities for women, and address the obstacles that still stand in the way of equality and progress. We must recommit ourselves to the cause of empowering our mothers, wives, sisters, daughters, and friends, and ensuring that in every country, every region and in every continent we speak with clarity that human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights.