Assistant Secretary Esther Brimmer of Bureau of International Organization Affairs today said the United States is investing an historic effort to empower women globally.
At the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, Ms. Brimmer said she is honored to be in Las Vegas and to share the Obama Administration’s far-reaching efforts to support the empowerment of women and girls globally.
“As Secretary Clinton and officials across this Administration have stated repeatedly, the major security, governance, environmental, and economic challenges of the 21st Century cannot be solved without the participation of women and girls at all levels of society.” -Ms. Brimmer
Ms. Brimmer said empowering women globally – including farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa, women de-miners in Sri Lanka, a legislator in Afghanistan or a recent college graduate protesting in Tahrir Square in Egypt – is one of the surest ways to create favorable outcomes in poverty alleviation, economic growth, and a country’s general prosperity.
“In fact, we know that as women progress, everyone in society benefits, including men and boys.” -Ms. Brimmer
She stressed that the U.S. is working to lift up millions of women and girls across the world through robust engagement multilaterally.
Ms. Brimmer said the United States is working the specialized agencies such as United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to expand girls’ and women’s access to education.
“Today, women, mainly in the world’s poorest communities, represent about two-thirds of the nearly 800 million illiterate adults around the world. Seeking to end this imbalance, Secretary Clinton spoke at to UNESCO in May to launch the Global Partnership for Girls’ and Women’s Education.” -Ms. Brimmer
She noted that the United States is deeply committed to the Global Partnership because it has the power to transform the lives of women. She added that together, they are working to ensure that money and resources are best used to promote basic literacy training and secondary education for girls around the globe. She pointed out that working together with other governments, NGOs, and private partners also allows them to multiply their impact, reaching more women and girls in meaningful ways than if we acted alone.
“The United States helped broker an agreement between “Procter and Gamble” and UNESCO to fund literacy training for girls in Senegal. Today only 33% of Senegalese women are literate. This modestly funded agreement will impact 40,000 women in Senegal enhancing their literacy and increasing their income and quality of their environment.” -Ms. Brimmer
The United States also partners with Nokia, with whom they work in multiple venues. Nokia is a partner in the UNESCO Global Partnership, an initiative led by the Cherie Blair Foundation and the mobile industry association GSMA which aims to reduce the gender gap in access to mobile technology of 300 million in the developing world, by 50 percent, in the next three years.
“By increasing women’s access to cell phones, the programs enables them to gain access to mobile education and mobile banking, which are critical tools for girls and women to strengthen their education and participate in developing markets.” -Ms. Brimmer
Ms. Brimmer emphasized that the Obama Administration has also focused on the number of women holding leadership positions. She pointed out that when women are not serving in governments, when their voice and experience are muted, when they are not at the negotiating table their absence has direct impact on society, on peace and security, on strengthening democracy in the communities, nations and world in which we live.
“The Administration is implementing policies and programs to bolster women’s leadership capacity in all areas of political participation and decision-making. To that end, we have worked to strengthen the institutional arrangements and mechanisms at the UN for support of gender equality and the empowerment of women.” -Ms. Brimmer
The United States was at the forefront in 2009 and 2010 in leading efforts at the UN to support the consolidation of the UN’s existing gender-related institutions into a single more effective women’s agency. Ms. Brimmer said it was their goal at the UN to elevate women’s issues to their rightful status.
“I am pleased to report that our efforts were successful. UN Women formally began operations on January 1, 2011 with a comprehensive mandate to work on all issues related to gender equality and women’s empowerment. Its Executive Director, Michelle Bachelet, is an impressive leader, as you know she is the former President of Chile.” -Ms. Brimmer
Ms. Brimmer underscored that the United States is also playing a leading role, along with international partners, in supporting empowerment of women, within the UN system, through our participation in the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW).