Mark C. Toner
March 8, 2017
On International Women’s Day, we reflect on the critical contributions women make in every sector of society and we recommit ourselves to addressing the discrimination and barriers that women face around the world.
We have seen firsthand the benefits of women’s empowerment—politically, economically, and socially. Women spend a higher portion of their earnings on their families than do men, driving greater prosperity and healthier communities. We know that if women participated in today’s labor markets to the same extent as men, the global annual GDP would see an additional $28 trillion by 2025. It should therefore come as no surprise that countries with greater gender equality tend to have less poverty. Women’s empowerment is a strategic investment in our future.
In order to realize the full return on this investment, women and girls must have the tools they need to succeed. That means ensuring that girls grow up safe, educated, and healthy, and that women and girls are free from violence in the home, in their communities, at school, and at work. When a woman suffers physical or sexual violence and is unable to access health care, or when a girl is forced to marry early and drops out of school before she is able to read or write, it is not just her life that is short-changed; we all lose.
From human rights to human security, women make the world a better place. We celebrate this today and look forward to recognizing a number of incredible women in person later this month. On March 29th, we will have the honor of presenting the 2017 International Women of Courage Awards. To date, this award has recognized nearly 100 women who have contributed to global stability, peace, and prosperity, often in the face of incredible adversity.
The United States’ commitment to women’s empowerment and gender equality extends beyond statements and ceremonies. On International Women’s Day, and every day, we will work to advance the rights of women and girls, well aware that when we do, we all win.