U.S. Statement at the High Level Policy Dialogue 2015 APEC Women and the Economy Forum

Catherine M. Russell
Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues 
Manila, Philippines
September 18, 2015

As prepared

On behalf of the United States, and our entire delegation, I would like to sincerely thank the Philippines for your extraordinary hospitality and your tremendous work in hosting this successful forum. And thank you to all the economics for your commitment to this effort.

This forum takes place at a critical moment. The year 2015 marks important milestones in the global work to advance women’s empowerment and gender equality, including anniversaries of both the 1995 UN Fourth World Conference on Women held in Beijing and the adoption of the Millennium Development Goals in 2000.

These events helped drive our progress over the past two decades. But they also serve as reminder that our work is unfinished. Continued commitment is needed throughout the APEC region and the world to advance gender equality—commitment that can be measured. This is why I am so pleased that the Women and Economy Dashboard will go live today on the APEC website. It will be a valuable tool in developing policies and building capacities that are grounded in data.

The United States remains firm in our belief that what’s good for women and girls is also good for companies and economies. That’s one of the many reasons why we continue to advance women in the economy at home in the United States and around the world. The United States recently launched a global campaign for the Alliance for Artisan Enterprise, a global platform that supports artisans. The campaign asks governments, investors, the private sector, and consumers to take part in the Alliance campaign’s call to action, which is “choose artisan.”

Our work to support artisans is part of a broader focus on entrepreneurship both domestically and abroad. As many of you know, the United States just launched an online portal as part of the Women’s Entrepreneurship in APEC initiative, and we are excited about the potential of this important initiative and encourage all economies to participate. We’ve also opened several women’s entrepreneurship centers in Africa and Asia, and we will continue to launch brick and mortar spaces for women entrepreneurs to get the resources they need to start and grow their own businesses. At home, the Small Business Administration launched the first “InnovateHER” Challenge earlier this year. Our goal is to discover products and services across the United States that help empower women and families.

The United States is working to promote skills, capacity building, and health. We’re proud to be a part of APEC efforts to develop the Healthy Women, Healthy Economies policy toolkit that launched yesterday. In the United States, we continue to implement President Obama’s signature health care law, which has specific benefits for women. And earlier this month President Obama ordered federal contractors to offer employees up to seven days of paid sick leave.

On women’s leadership, the United States continues to invest in young women in APEC through the Young South East Asian Leadership Initiative, which provides leadership opportunities to young women and men in ten regional economies. We are focused on empowering women leaders in traditionally male dominated sectors like transportation. The United States is working with APEC economies to improve women’s representation across that sector, from the board room to the shipping docks.

The United States is investing in the leaders of tomorrow. Earlier this year, the President and First Lady launched the Let Girls Learn initiative to tackle the challenges that keep 62 million girls from going to school around the world. Already we’ve seen exciting programs under the Let Girls Learn umbrella. In July we held a three-week camp for adolescent girls that focused on science, technology, engineering, arts and design, and math, in addition to leadership skills training. The camp is an example of how the United States works on issues related to women, innovation and technology. The Administration’s strategic plan on STEM education prioritizes STEM education for groups underrepresented in STEM, including women and girls.

None of this work would be possible without the support and collaboration of economies, civil society and the private sector. The joint efforts of these sectors are key to the strength and importance of APEC in the global effort to support women and girls.

Thank you.