Ambassador Elizabeth Millard
Acting U.S. Representative to the Economic and Social Council
New York, New York
March 18, 2021
Well, Gunter, thank you so very much, and it’s really a great pleasure to be here. And let me thank, at the outset, the German delegation and also the delegation of Chile and, of course, Women for Women International for organizing this event today, which we’re really proud to co-sponsor and co-host.
As Niels already spoke about, we’ve seen an unprecedented rise in the number of cases of discrimination and marginalization, as well as spikes in the rates of sexual- and gender-based violence and intimate partner violence over the last year. And, of course, this problem has only been exacerbated as women around the world were forced into lockdown with abusive partners.
My country cares deeply about gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls around the world.
We were so thrilled to have our Vice President deliver our national statement the other day in CSW, and I would like to just quote her when she spoke about equality. She said “the status of democracy also depends fundamentally on the empowerment of women.” And the other thing that I would like to quote this morning, “the status of democracies is the status of women.” And in this context, I would like to flag the importance also of intersectionality and diversity. And we have a really great group of public delegates at our CSW delegation this year who have real diversity in background, experience, expertise, and life experience demonstrating this.
We strongly support the Women, Peace, and Security agenda. But despite its unanimous adoption 20 years ago, we still see that agenda challenged, including in the ongoing CSW discussions. We all need to do more to protect women, including women human rights defenders, women leaders, from violence and being silenced.
We believe that the Women, Peace, and Security agenda needs to go beyond mere rhetoric and translate into concrete action. Women should be part of mediation and negotiation teams. They should also serve in roles behind the scenes that are just as powerful – such as technical experts, or civil society leaders. With so many ways for women to lend their voice to – and lead – in peacebuilding, there is no excuse for their perspectives to be absent.
Intersectionality is also critical in advancing gender equality and the empowerment of women. Women belonging to multiple minority groups are at an even higher risk of sexual- and gender-based violence. They’re also more likely to experience threats and harassment just for participating in public life, and are often excluded from leadership roles.
We’ve seen, for example, that women and girls with disabilities are vastly excluded from decision-making at all levels – which is often exacerbated in conflict settings and especially during this pandemic.
We must work together as an international community to address sexual- and gender-based violence, and empower women around the world to take on leadership roles at all levels.
We have a really diverse panel today, and with deep expertise, and I very much look forward to the discussion.