On International Women’s Day, we mark progress made for women and the work still to be done. We celebrate equality secured and shine a light on the dark corners where inequality remains the norm. We honor the suffragettes who reached for the ballot, and stand with the women around the world still denied the fundamental right to participate in their democracies.
The past year has painted a mixed portrait of both hope and struggle for the world’s women. Three women won the Nobel Peace Prize; yet millions of mothers and daughters remained unable to reach their full potential, get an education, join the workforce, and lead their communities and nations. In the United States, we’ve seen an attempt to silence women in the debate on women’s health and witnessed vicious and inappropriate attacks on a woman who spoke out. And we must fight to ensure that women always have a seat at the table.
Little more than a year ago, we watched women and men march side-by-side for freedom in the Arab Spring; today, the fledgling democracies of the Middle East must include women in government, at the ballot box, and in leadership – because there’s nothing more wholesome than the increased participation of women in the political process.
The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day – ‘Empower Women: End Hunger and Poverty’ – sends a clear message: we must empower women in order to secure growth for our economy, prosperity for our families, progress for our country, and equality worldwide. On this day, let’s build on the success of our past, protect the rights we’ve gained, and recommit ourselves to the promise of a brighter future for women and girls across the globe.