March 7, 2023
Good afternoon. And let me thank you all for being here as we kick off the 67th session of the Commission on the Status of Women.
And I am really proud that I am actually leading the U.S. delegation this year, alongside gender-equality champions inside and outside of government. I know there’s a long list of speakers, but I’m looking forward to delivering the U.S. national statement.
As I have done time and time again, I will call attention to the violence and oppression of women and girls around the world and what they are facing – in Iran, in Afghanistan, in areas of Ukraine occupied by Russia, and in so many other places around the world.
Ever since the pandemic started, gender-based violence has spiked. Meanwhile, too many women and girls are being killed – some even on public streets. Others are shunted away, banned from school, and barred from public life.
The past 12 months have been an unending assault on women and girls, and we must step up and we must speak out. That’s especially true when it comes to gender-equality in the digital age – the theme of this year’s session.
Because in the 21st century, much of the harassment and violence perpetrated against women and girls is facilitated by the Internet. It’s estimated that over eight in 10 women and girls have experienced some form of digital online harassment and abuse. And journalists, politicians, human rights defenders, and other civil society actors are acutely impacted.
There is no doubt that digital innovation can empower women, and it can open up educational and economic opportunities, and we need to extend these technologies to all. But we also need to defend against widespread attacks.
The United States is committed to doing just that and we are advancing this work in the multilateral sphere through the Global Partnership for Action on Gender-Based Online Harassment and Abuse. Because let’s be clear: an issue of this scale requires international cooperation.
At the UN – and especially at the Commission on the Status of Women – we have an obligation to advance gender-equality in both the physical as well as in the digital world.
The United States has also stood up a task force for addressing online harassment and abuse, which is establishing programs, reports, hotlines, surveys, research centers to counter digital violence. Last month, the White House Gender Policy Council released publicly its first progress report to President Biden on the U.S. National Strategy on Gender Equality and Equity. And this year, we will release the first-ever U.S. National Plan to End Gender-Based Violence.
But I will never shy away from the fact that we face our own challenges in the United States. The right to make intensely personal choices free from the interference of politicians has been stripped away from millions and millions of women in the United States. I have traveled the globe advocating for women’s rights, and it pains me to know that so many in my own country want to undo fundamental rights.
But let me be clear: the Biden Administration remains deeply committed to protecting and advancing the rights of women and girls at home and around the world, including at the UN and in our foreign assistance.
Right now, the world’s most vulnerable women and girls around the world are counting on us, and we must keep their struggles, their hopes, their aspirations, their dreams front and center over the next two weeks, and in the weeks and months and years to come.
Thank you very much.