The importance of gender equality is clear: Nations that invest in women's employment, health, and education are more likely to have greater economic growth and their children are healthier and better educated. Empowering women as political and social leaders produce more representative and better performing governments and institutions. And a growing body of evidence shows that women offer unique contributions to making and keeping peace. The State Department's embassies and bureaus are already promoting gender equality and advancing the status of women and girls across the a broad range of bilateral, regional, and multilateral diplomatic activity.
That's why the recent release of first-ever Secretarial policy guidance on gender is so important -- and must be further ingrained into all the work U.S. diplomats are doing at the State Department -- from policy development, strategic planning and budgeting to policy and program implementation, monitoring and evaluation, and management and training. Click here for a fact sheet with more information on the Secretarial policy guidance on gender.
It's no secret that Secretary Clinton believes that women must be at the core of America's foreign policy. She has integrated the rights of women and girls not only into all of her diplomatic efforts, but also into the very fabric of the State Department itself through the unveiling of the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review in December 2010. On March 13, 2012, we took an historic step forward in cementing the Secretary's vision into action through the release of this policy guidance on gender. This guidance instructs our embassies and bureaus to implement specific steps to ensure that our diplomacy and development work supports our national security and foreign policy objectives by promoting gender equality and advancing the status of women and girls.
This does not mean simply ensuring a balanced approach to our diplomatic efforts or development assistance or launching one-off programs that affect women and girls. Rather, it requires a focus on reducing gaps between women and men in resources, opportunities, and outcomes in the full range of our programs and diplomatic engagement -- including with host governments, civil society, and the private sector.
We tasked embassies and bureaus with three critical issues to tackle immediately:
- Political participation. To foster democratic outcomes and representative government, bureaus, and embassies should use diplomacy to promote women's equal ability to participate in politics and civic life -- including local and national government processes, civil society, and international and multilateral forums.
- Economic growth. No country that disadvantages half its population can live up to its economic potential. Embassies and bureaus should seek to expand opportunities for women as a critical tool for fostering economic growth and development.
- Peace and security. To foster conflict prevention, management, and resolution, and to promote relief and recovery in post-conflict situations, embassies, and bureaus should draw on the full contributions of both women and men in every aspect of peacemaking, peacekeeping, and peace building.
Secretary Clinton declared her personal commitment to gender equality at her confirmation hearing in January 2009. I share deeply in this commitment as do many, many others in the United States and across the globe. But this is not just a matter of personal importance, it's of strategic importance. Simply put, advancing the status of women and girls is critical to the success of our foreign policy priorities of stability, prosperity, and peace.
Visit state.gov/s/gwi/ for more information on the Office of Global Women's Issues at the U.S. Department of State.