U.S.-India Strategic and Commercial Dialogue

Catherine M. Russell
Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues 
Washington, DC
September 22, 2015

As prepared

Thank you, Secretary Kerry and Minister Swaraj. The United States is proud of our partnership with the Government of India.

We congratulate the Government on its efforts to improve women’s access to economic, political, and social opportunities. You’ve worked to eliminate neonatal and maternal tetanus. You’ve hosted more than 20 nations for the third Call to Action Summit to end preventable child and maternal deaths. You’ve committed to recruit and retain women policy officers. And you’ve continued to acknowledge how important it is to hold perpetrators accountable for crimes committed against women and girls.

I’d also like to recognize the Prime Minister’s campaign to raise awareness of the value of girls—a campaign that has engaged millions of people, including officials in the United States. These efforts are encouraging, and they also are critical. We know that when women do better, countries do better. Empowering women and girls will help fuel continued growth and development in India and stability across the region.

That said, serious challenges remain for women and girls both in India and around the world. No country has solved the problem of gender-based violence. And no country has seen full economic, political and social equality for women. The face of poverty still largely belongs to women and girls, particularly those without access to an education and women continue to be underrepresented in the private sector, even though we know the potential they hold in this arena.

The United States knows firsthand the range of challenges facing women and girls. That’s why we are hopeful that we can leverage and build upon the accomplishments we’ve achieved to strengthen our cooperation on gender equality. We look forward to working with the Government of India to address these issues in India and more broadly.

The foundation for that work is strong. During previous US-India Women’s Empowerment Dialogues, we launched programs to support women’s economic opportunity to share our experience in providing shelter and services to survivors of domestic violence. We look forward to expanding upon the US-India Women’s Empowerment Dialogue’s successful track record moving forward.

In March, I met with the Ministry of Women and Child Development. We committed to developing a joint action plan to launch programs on issues we face in both our countries, including the prevention of and response to gender-based violence and women’s economic empowerment.

And I’m delighted to invite India to join the Equal Futures Partnership, an initiative launched by President Obama in 2012 to advance women’s political and economic participation. In three years, a partnership that began with 11 governments has more than doubled to include 27 countries and the European Union. Through Equal Futures, we exchange best practices to advance women’s political and economic participation, and we look for opportunities for countries to partner together to advance these goals.

As the adoption this weekend of the global development goals show, women’s empowerment is a critical element of progress—one that should be integrated into our broader efforts. We will be more successful tackling climate change, promoting peace and security, and improving our workforce in fields like science and technology when we include, empower, and educate women.

We look forward to strengthening our engagement with the Government on women’s economic participation. We hope to deepen our partnership with you to address our common challenges by leveraging the expertise, resources and successes of both our countries.

Thank you.