Remarks at a CSW Interactive Dialogue on Eliminating Violence against Women in Public Life

Kat Fotovat
Senior Official
Office of Global Women’s Issues
U.S. Department of State
Washington, D.C.
March 17, 2021


The United States recognizes that efforts to advance gender equality and prevent and respond to gender-based violence are a critical foundation for women’s meaningful participation in decision-making processes and public life. As Vice President Harris stated in the U.S. national statement, “the status of women is the status of democracy.”

One in three women will experience physical or sexual violence in her lifetime, and rates of gender-based violence have only increased in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Women in positions of public leadership – including peacebuilders, human rights defenders, civil society leaders, journalists, and public officials – continue to be subject to threats, harassment, intimidation, and gender-based violence by those who seek to silence their voices online and offline.

As enshrined in the United States Women, Peace, and Security Act and Strategy, we advocate for the safe and meaningful participation of women across all governance and decision-making efforts to promote international peace and security, prevent and resolve conflict, counter terrorism and violent extremism, and address the risks posed by fragility.

The fundamental ability of women to participate fully and equally in democratic processes is tied to the international community’s commitment to preventing and responding to all forms of gender-based violence, including that which is politically-motivated.