"If half of the world's population remains vulnerable to economic, political, legal and social marginalization, our hope of advancing democracy and prosperity is in serious jeopardy. The United States must be an unequivocal and unwavering voice in support of women's rights in every country, on every continent." -- Secretary of State Hillary Rodham ClintonAbout the Author: Sophie Coremans serves in the Public Affairs Office at the U.S. Mission to the European Union.
As a recent graduate entering the workforce, the issue of women's political and economic equality is a major concern for me. After graduation, I joined the U.S. Mission to the European Union's Public Affairs Office, and have been privileged to help advance this core value shared by both the United States and the European Union. We partner together around the world to support girl's education, advocate for economic equality, and defend human rights protections for women.
In working towards this ideal, however, I have come to realize much remains to be accomplished, even at home. In the United States, women hold only 17 percent of seats in Congress and 22 percent of state-wide elective executive office positions. Though women make up nearly 50 percent of the workforce, they earn on average just 77 cents for every dollar men make. On this side of the Atlantic, the situation is similar: in European Union Member States, on average only one in four members of national parliaments and ministers of national governments is a woman. Women occupy 14 percent of board seats in the largest publicly listed companies in all EU countries. These statistics represent progress, but there is clearly much more to be accomplished.
Today, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton delivers remarks at the launch of the Equal Futures Partnership during the UN General Assembly (UNGA) in New York. Building on President Obama's challenge at UNGA last year, the United States will be working with various country partners in this new international effort to break down barriers to women's political participation and economic empowerment. The goal of the Equal Futures Partnership is for each member country to expand opportunities for women and girls to fully participate in public life and to drive more inclusive economic growth.
I am currently working with my colleagues at the U.S. Mission to the European Union to launch a social media campaign in conjunction with a series of events focusing on women's issues. This week, we will welcome Susannah Wellford Shakow of Running Start and the Women Under Forty Political Action Committee -- an advocate who has dedicated her life to inspiring young women and encouraging them to run for public office -- to speak with students, civic organizations, and policymakers as we share U.S. perspectives on women's empowerment with EU audiences. She will be joined in discussions by high-level European leaders such as Swedish Ambassador to the EU Anna-Karin Eneström and Franziska Brantner, Member of the European Parliament.
You are invited to join the conversation as we work together to advance women's rights and empowerment, both at home and abroad. Join in and view videos and photos of the event by visiting the social media platforms of the U.S. Mission to the EU: Facebook, Google+, YouTube, and on Twitter using the hashtag #USEUWomen. Also follow the U.S. Ambassador to the EU, William Kennard, @USAmbEU.
For more information on U.S. efforts to promote stability, peace, and development by empowering women politically, socially, and economically around the world, visit the State Department Office of Global Women's Issues web page and follow them on Facebook and Twitter.