U.S. MISSION TO THE UNITED NATIONS
Office of Press and Pubic Diplomacy
For Immediate Release
March 20, 2020
U.S. National Statement of the United States Delegation to the 64th Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women: Celebrating Women’s Achievements at Home and Abroad
One hundred years ago, American women won the right to vote, a landmark achievement in the struggle for all U.S. citizens to participate fully and engage at all levels in the life of our country. Women’s active role in American political and public life has fundamentally changed the economic, political, and security sectors of our nation. We know that countries that empower women to participate fully in their societies are more prosperous and successful because we live that reality every day. On the occasion of the United Nations’ 64th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), and upon our agreement to the CSW Political Declaration, it is important to celebrate our nation’s and the world’s achievements for womankind, while noting the great work yet to come.
We are proud the United States is at the forefront of advancing women’s empowerment at home and abroad. American women have benefitted more than any other group from the current economic boom in our country. They are graduating from universities and graduate schools at historic numbers, enjoying wage growth at a higher rate, and experiencing low unemployment. In fact, women’s unemployment rate is at its lowest levels since 1953, a 66-year low of female unemployment at 3.4%. There is a women’s economic boom underway in our country today, thanks to pro-growth policies implemented by President Trump, including tax reform, deregulation, and a focus on providing workforce training, expanding entrepreneurship, and leveling the playing field across American industry. Most astounding is that in 2019, women filled over 70 percent of the 2.1 million new jobs created that year. Women are winning, which means we all win.
President Trump and Congress recently came together to provide 12 weeks of paid family leave for our federal government workers. The federal government is now leading on this issue, and we believe this law will set a new standard in our economy, encouraging other employers to provide similar benefits allowing every American freedom to embrace the dignity of work and the ability to care for their families. In addition, President Trump, working with Congress, has doubled the Child Tax Credit, providing nearly 40 million families with an average benefit of $2,200 a year. We have also championed the largest ever expansion of childcare grants to State governments, resulting in 17 states reducing or eliminating wait lists, providing families better access to high-quality childcare.
At the forefront of economic, employment, and labor issues in our country is the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). This year, U.S. DOL’s Women’s Bureau celebrates one hundred years of serving as a source for research, data and statistics, advocacy, and innovation for working women and the impactful issues they care about. The Women’s Bureau is a leading voice tasked with representing the needs of working women in the public policy process.
The United States leads the world by example in terms of women’s empowerment, as women’s economic empowerment plays a critical role in building a prosperous and stable society that enjoys truly sustainable development. President Trump created the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative (W-GDP), the United States’ first ever whole-of-government approach to making women’s full and free participation in the global economy a reality. W-GDP is focused on three pillars: providing women with quality workforce development and skills training; expanding entrepreneurship and access to capital; and promoting an enabling environment that increases women’s economic empowerment by reducing barriers and enhancing protections in policies, laws, and social norms to facilitate women’s participation in the economy. When women travel freely, own property equitably, have equal access to credit, work in every sector of the economy, and have access to institutions on an equal basis as their male counterparts, countries thrive. W-GDP aims to have a positive impact on 50 million women by 2025, and in the first year of the initiative, W-GDP reached 12 million women worldwide.
We believe in the right to life and inherent dignity of each human being, and in the dignity and responsibility of work. We are pleased that the Political Declaration of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) included strong references to women’s economic empowerment this year. We have seen what happens in our own society when women are able to participate fully in the economy, become entrepreneurs, and shape an enabling environment that furthers opportunities. The United States will continue to support private sector-led growth, entrepreneurship, and legal reform that expands women’s economic opportunities, and we look forward to working with those partners who want to unleash women’s untapped and undervalued potential in their own economies.
Promoting women’s participation in efforts to restore security, enable the growth of democracy and implementation of rule of law, and support economic development is not simply a women’s issue – it is a national security issue vital for human progress. We are proud that when President Trump signed the Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) Act of 2017, it became the first standalone, comprehensive legislation of its kind globally. From the Act, the White House has spearheaded a whole–of–government U.S. Women, Peace, and Security Strategy which promotes women’s meaningful participation in all aspects of preventing, managing, and resolving conflict overseas, as well as post-conflict recovery, while also addressing the adverse impacts of conflicts on women and girls. Our implementation of the White House WPS Strategy relies on a unique combination of tools and contributions and coordination across the U.S. Departments of State, Defense, and Homeland Security, and the Agency for International Development (USAID). We are modernizing foreign assistance; developing new tools and policies to increase women’s meaningful participation in decision-making in the political and security sector; and updating training to give our diplomats, development experts, and security and defense personnel the knowledge and resources they need to effectively integrate WPS into their daily work.
Our strategic implementation of the WPS Strategy also emphasizes the necessity of partnerships and collective global action, which further reinforce U.S. efforts. In October 2000, the United States proudly supported UN Security Council Resolution 1325, which recognized women’s essential contributions to preventing and resolving conflict. This year as we observe the resolution’s 20th anniversary, the United States remains committed to expanding women’s role in establishing and maintaining global peace, security, and prosperity through bilateral and multilateral partnerships. We must promote women’s meaningful engagement at every level, from decision-making to crisis response, as a fundamental aspect of preventing and resolving conflict. To this end, we were disappointed that we could not reach agreement in the political declaration on a direct reference to UNSCR 1325 or its 20th anniversary.
It is also important to highlight the challenges women and girls face around the world and provide concrete recommendations to address these challenges. Women are frequently discouraged and often effectively barred from economic engagement, including by disproportionate responsibilities for family care. Women and girls are often targets of violence, both in peace and conflict situations, as victims and survivors of abuse, trafficking, sex-based crime, and other forms of exploitation. Women and girls with disabilities confront environmental, physical, and attitudinal barriers their non-disabled counterparts do not face. Women and girls with disabilities have lower levels of education, are two to three times more likely to be unemployed, and often are not able to pursue the career and life paths they desire because of the inaccessibility of their environments and societies. In the United States, we have legal protections for individuals with disabilities, including women and girls with disabilities, such as through the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year. Still we can do more to ensure that all women and girls with disabilities are fully and equally included in all society around the world.
While fair and just laws and institutions are critical elements of an equitable society, we also must recognize that government alone does not move society forward on a path to equality and self-reliance. Other stakeholders also play critical – often the leading – roles in advocating for and realizing the human rights of all, including women and girls. Elements of our society – our families, public, private, and nonprofit organizations, including faith-based organizations, academia, business organizations, and the media – are important platforms for women’s empowerment and have been critical support systems for women’s equality over the decades. Civil society played a vital role in Beijing 25 years ago, and it continues to be an important partner for all of us. To this end, we were disappointed that some of the references to these important contributors and stakeholders were removed from the final text of the Political Declaration. The United States will continue to be a strong supporter of civil society, including by promoting a diverse range of views on the important challenges we face in the continuing struggle to advance women’s empowerment and equality.
The United States is committed to focusing on those areas in which we believe we can make the most progress and have the greatest impact in the lives of women who are most in need of support and protection. A strong basis for coordinated action exists on issues such as women’s economic empowerment and the WPS agenda, and we encourage our partners in the international community to work with us to build on these areas of agreement and continue to look for new areas on which to build cooperation. We were pleased that this year, CSW has been able to focus on those areas where we are largely in agreement, rather than becoming fixated on a small number of divisive issues that do not enjoy meaningful consensus. We hope this will be the model for cooperation going forward and will work with all willing partners to ensure that the next 25 years is a period of unprecedented achievement for women, and, therefore, for the world.