Last week, I attended the Equal Futures Partnership: From Promise to Progress event at the World Bank, to share progress made by the Obama Administration since the launch of the Equal Futures Partnership last September. The Equal Futures Partnership is a multilateral initiative that seeks to break down barriers to women’s economic empowerment and political participation so that every woman and girl can reach her full potential. It is a response to the challenge issued by President Obama in September 2011 at the UN General Assembly. He said, “Next year, we should each announce the steps we are taking to break down economic and political barriers that stand in the way of women and girls. That is what our commitment to human progress demands.”
For the United States, our Equal Futures commitments seek to promote four key objectives: opening doors to quality education and high-paying career opportunities in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields; breaking the cycle of violence and ensuring economic security for survivors of violence; promoting civic education and public leadership for girls; and expanding support for women entrepreneurs.
On Thursday, I was joined by Dr. Jim Kim, President of the World Bank; Jack Lew, U.S. Treasury Secretary; Gene Sperling, Director of the National Economic Council; and Tina Tchen, Executive Director of the Council on Women and Girls -- along with finance ministers and other high-level delegates from founding partner countries, new partner countries, the private sector, and civil society organizations. I shared that the United States has completed implementation of nearly all of our commitments. You can read more about our progress here and our broader efforts on empowering women and girls here.
Other countries also discussed their progress and goals, as well as why advancing Equal Futures was so important to them.
On Friday, the White House convened a meeting with a wide range of business leaders to further discuss potential partnership opportunities to create equal futures.
For the United States, Equal Futures fits into President Obama’s larger goal of supporting women and girls. We continue to work through the White House Council on Women and Girls to ensure that the needs of women and girls are taken into account in Administration actions and in the legislation this administration supports. President Obama recently signed the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act into law. And our 2014 budget strengthens initiatives that support women and girls, with investments to ensure equal pay, to help working families and women-owned small businesses, and to improve health services. On the international front, we’ve made promoting gender equality and advancing the status of women central to our foreign policy.
During the meetings, I was greatly encouraged by the enthusiasm and commitment of other countries to empower women. Together, I know that we can create a world where every woman and girl has the chance to live up to her potential.
Valerie B. Jarrett is a Senior Advisor to President Barack Obama. She oversees the Offices of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs and chairs the White House Council on Women and Girls.