Realizing the Potential of Women and Girls

September 24, 2012|By Brooke Loughrin, U.S. Youth Observer

brimmer_brookeMe and Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs Dr. Esther Brimmer at lunc“Ensuring that women are equal partners, as they should be, and are free to realize their own God-given potential, [is] one of the great pieces of unfinished business of the 21st century...if we want to support strong democracies, thriving economies, and stable, peaceful societies worldwide, we must support women and girls.” – Hillary Clinton

While the world has seen extraordinary progress in expanding opportunities for women and girls, significant gaps remain in the areas of political participation and economic opportunity. Recognizing that no country can realize its potential if half its population cannot reach theirs , world leaders, young people and passionate activists have taken on the challenge of breaking down barriers to women’s political and economic empowerment.

Here are some exciting new initiatives being discussed at the Social Good Summit and the UN this week to empower women and girls:

Secretary Clinton helped launch the Equal Futures Partnership on behalf of the United States along with 12 other founding members. The goal of the Equal Futures Partnership is for women to participate fully in public life and to lead and benefit from inclusive economic growth. UN Women and the World Bank have also pledged support for the partnership.

Assistant Secretary of State Dr. Esther Brimmer and I met for lunch today to discuss global youth issues. One of the initiatives Assistant Secretary Brimmer is most passionate about is The Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, a public-private initiative to save lives, improve livelihoods, empower women and combat climate change by creating a thriving global market for clean, efficient household cooking solutions. Actress Julia Roberts talks about the positive impact of the initiative on women, children and the environment.

Another initiative Assistant Secretary Brimmer and I are excited about is Girl Up, an innovative campaign to address the needs of adolescent girls in developing countries. The campaign mobilizes American girls to raise awareness and funds for programs of the UN that help some of the world’s most difficult to reach girls. Teen Advisor Sofia Stafford describes the power of the Girl Up’s motto “for girls, by girls."

“Women and girls are the leverage to change the world…The result is a virtuous cycle of change that benefits not just half the nation, but everyone.” New York Times columnist and Pulitzer Prize winner Nicholas Kristof argues why empowering women and girls benefits everyone.

AmericaFerreraAlexisBledel_350Actors America Ferrera and Alexis Bledel with Claire Diaz-Ortize, Leads Social Innovation at Twitter.America Ferrera and Alexis Bledel, and Twitter innovator Claire Diaz-Ortiz traveled to Honduras to learn how women and girls in one of the poorest countries in the world are working to improve their lives. Check out the video of their trip to see how women and girls in Latin America are fighting poverty and malnutrition with help from innovative U.S. government programs.

How can U.S. youth prepare for a career in public policy and international affairs? Stay tuned for my future blog post on Assistant Secretary of State Esther Brimmer’s inside advice on how to prepare for a career in foreign affairs.         

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