Director of the White House Gender Policy Council
March 16, 2022
Good morning. Thank you to our event co-sponsors and expert panelists for an excellent discussion. I would like to thank the National Democratic Institute and the State Department’s Office of Global Women’s Issues team in particular for hosting this important launch event today.
Thank you also to Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, a true champion for women and girls at the UN, for taking time out of her busy schedule to join us here this morning.
And I want to convey my deep gratitude to the Government of Denmark for helping to lead the Global Partnership for Action on Gender-Based Online Harassment and Abuse, and to the Governments of Australia, Sweden, the UK, and the Republic of Korea, for partnering with us to address this critical issue. We are thrilled to build this multinational coalition, and hope that more governments and other partners will join us.
As our brave and resilient panelists demonstrated, online harassment and abuse is a shared challenge to the full and equal participation of women and girls, one that spans hemispheres—from Honduras, to Indonesia, to right here in the United States. Online forms of gender-based violence have increased, facilitated by new and emerging technologies, but rooted in entrenched gender disparities.
Because this abuse is truly borderless, our efforts to address it should be as well. The United States is committed to working with governments, multilateral organizations, civil society, the private sector, advocates, and most importantly, survivors to address this global scourge.
We also must take responsibility for making progress on this issue at home. As Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield mentioned in her opening, we are especially proud to be speaking with you just a day after President Biden signed the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act into law – a bill that will advance our efforts to prevent and respond to gender-based violence –including online harassment and abuse, and for those who don’t know him and his long commitment to this issue, this is a bill that he wrote himself in the ninety’s, and within minutes of meeting him he will tell you that it is his proudest achievement, and we are marking this day today as well, even though he signed the bill yesterday, with an event here at the White House, really to mark this important reauthorization and strengthening of the bill quite frankly.
In addition, the Biden-Harris Administration will launch a national Task Force to Address Online Harassment and Abuse this spring, fulfilling a promise that President Biden made on the campaign trail – and complementing the work that the Global Partnership launched here today will lead.
We announced our intention to launch this Global Partnership in December at the U.S. Summit for Democracy. As Vice President Harris has recognized, “the status of women is the status of democracy” – and to ensure women’s political participation and leadership, we must foster the environment in which they can succeed and be heard.
As our panelists shared today, too often speaking out and being heard comes with a price. Online harassment and abuse have a chilling effect on women, girls, and other underrepresented or marginalized groups. It can lead to self-censorship – or disengagement altogether.
We cannot afford to lose a diversity of viewpoints or women’s voices, perspectives, and leadership – particularly at time when democracy cannot be taken for granted, with the brave women and men of Ukraine fighting to preserve theirs.
The Global Partnership we’re launching today aims to take this challenge on. I want to again thank our hosts, panelists, and my colleagues from Australia, Denmark, Sweden, the UK, and the Republic of Korea, for their commitment to this issue, and invite others from across the world to join us. Thank you very much.