Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
March 17, 2021
Thank you, Ambassador Erdan, for hosting us today and for giving the United States the opportunity to co-sponsor this important event with you today. Thank you too, to Ms. Abargil. Thank you for sharing your story and serving as an inspiration to all of us, and for moderating our discussion today.
And a warm welcome to all of our guests, partners joining us virtually this afternoon. We’re fortunate to have so many excellent representatives from all sectors of society with us here today.
Thank you to Michal Sela Forum, UJA Federation of New York for representing civil society, Google for representing business and technology, and my fellow Ambassadors and UN representatives for providing multilateral perspectives.
And of course, a big thank you to our wonderful special guest, Gal Gadot.
Last week, the World Health Organization released a stunning report, one we’re going to be talking about a lot at the UN Commission on the Status of Women.
The report found that one in every three women will experience physical and sexual violence in her lifetime. One in every three women.
By the time a woman reaches her mid-twenties, if she’s been in a relationship, she has a one in four chance of having already experienced violence from an intimate partner.
This is a crisis, and it’s a calamity.
And it is only compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic, which we know has increased rates of gender violence, especially intimate partner violence and violence against girls. Financial desperation and social isolation have put even more women in dangerous situations.
The United Nations calls this “the shadow pandemic.” I think this is an apt name. Because like the COVID-19 pandemic, gender-based violence knows no borders – and no country can stop it alone.
And as with all dire threats to safety and security – whether it’s climate change, a pandemic, or acts of terrorism – the best way to address gender-based violence is to prevent it from happening in the first place. We heard you say that, Ambassador.
Imagine if we focused only on cleaning up the rubble after a terrorist attack, but not on stopping terrorists from committing their atrocious acts in the first place.
And imagine if we only tried to help people with COVID-19 after they’ve gotten sick and they’ve been hospitalized, instead of wearing masks, staying socially distant, and inventing a preventative vaccine.
It would be sheer madness.
We need to take on gender-based violence by preventing gender-based violence.
That’s why, last week, on International Women’s Day, President Biden established the White House Gender Policy Council within the Executive Office of the President.
Stopping gender-based violence is a top priority of that council – and of the entire Biden-Harris administration.
For President Biden, this is a commitment that goes back decades for him – since he first authored the Violence Against Women Act in the U.S. Senate more than 25 years ago. We are hoping that the House of Representatives reauthorizes that act today.
And it’s why we’re so eager to be looking at technological solutions today, as well.
There’s no vaccine for the shadow pandemic of gender-based violence. But with you as partners, we may just find an equivalent technology that can prevent gender-based violence and provide a proactive solution to the shadow pandemic.
It is time to bring gender-based violence out of the shadows, out of the dark, out of the walls where people hide in. It’s time to shine a light on it. And it’s time to treat this as an emergency, with the urgency that it demands.
Thank you very much.