All posts by DGN

Ambassador Hamamoto: ICTs are Powerful Tools for Women’s Empowerment

ITU and UN Women name Ambassador Hamamoto one of  2015 GEM-TECH Global Achievers

Remarks by Ambassador Pamela Hamamoto
New York,
December 14, 2015

Good evening!  It’s good to be in New York, at Civic Hall, a unique community center for civic innovators – a multi-stakeholder platform where people with the same core values can “share knowledge, build tools, and solve problems” together.

I feel right at home, because the engagement that takes place here at Civic Hall mirrors the collaborative structure and objectives of the two signature gender initiatives I was able to launch this year, The Future She Deserves and Geneva Gender Champions.

Geneva is the operational hub of the UN system – so our goal is to unite the key decision-makers and experts in Geneva into a powerful force for collective action. The issues we’re prioritizing… issues of gender equality… of women and girls’ empowerment… these issues transcend disciplines and organizations and merit a comprehensive and coordinated response.

And that’s why, although I’m the one standing before you tonight, this award really belongs to all those on my team at the U.S. Mission and in “International Geneva” who have embraced these initiatives and are personally committed to driving real change for women and girls by working together.

I would like to thank ITU for leading the way.  Secretary-General Zhao was among the first to sign on as a Geneva Gender Champion, making women’s digital empowerment and full participation in the digital society one of his key objectives.

We can’t emphasize this enough at a time when the world is increasingly divided into those who have access to the Internet, and those who don’t.  For women and girls everywhere, Internet connectivity is not a luxury, it’s a necessity!

Information and communication technologies – ICTs –have transformed markets, enabled the creation of industries, accelerated research and development, facilitated social movements, improved healthcare outcomes, and connected people in ways that would have been unimaginable a generation ago.

Unfortunately, women continue to face profound inequalities – and study after study shows that women are vastly under-represented in ICT and STEM fields and in leadership positions in the tech sector.

And that’s why the U.S. Mission has been partnering with ITU on initiatives like Girls in ICT Day.

Because I believe there is no better way to bring women and girls into the economy and to facilitate their full participation in society than by providing training in and access to ICTs and STEM education.

As I walked through the Tech Showcase earlier… I couldn’t help but see myself many years ago… when like many of these young women, I was a brand new engineer with dreams of design and discovery.

What do we say to these young women?  To all girls who want to code, invent, change the way we look at things?  What do we say to the women and girls who see in technology something that gives them not only purpose, but also powerful tools of empowerment?

I would tell them that this award ceremony tonight sends a strong message that we can’t and won’t keep women and girls away from science, technology, engineering and math; and that we will no longer accept the social perceptions that STEM jobs are somehow just for men.

The spread of ICTs and global connectivity has unbelievable potential to accelerate economic and social progress and importantly, women’s progress.

I am honored and proud to receive this award and vow to continue working with all our partners in Geneva and beyond to accelerate progress toward true gender equality.

Thank you very much.

ICRC: Remarks by Ambassador Hamamoto at Sexual and Gender-Based Violence Side Event

Venue CICG, Room 18
Geneva,
Thursday, December 10, 2015

First, I would like to recognize and thank Baroness Anelay for her leadership in gender equality and for her deep commitment to tackling sexual violence in conflict situations.

Last week, the UN’s State of the World Population Report emphasized that the health needs of women and girls must not be treated as an afterthought in times of crises, but instead must be placed at the center of any humanitarian response.

The same is true when it comes to protecting women and girls at the onset of an emergency, an area that’s been repeatedly identified as an especially weak link.  And needless to say, an area of increasing importance with the number of crises we are facing in the world today.

This is precisely why Secretary Kerry launched the Safe from the Start initiative with UNHCR and other partners two years ago — to focus on how to better address gender-based violence at the onset of an emergency.  And that’s also been one of the United States’ priorities when leading the Call to Action on Protection from Gender-based Violence in Emergencies this past year.

Leadership of this initiative will transition to Sweden next month, and the United States looks forward to continuing to work closely with Sweden — and with all Call to Action partners – in the coming year.

We now have a roadmap for the next five years, which outlines concrete actions all humanitarian stakeholders can take to change the policies, systems, and mechanisms used for emergency response.  And we’ve all agreed to hold each other accountable, a true achievement and an indispensable tool as we’ve heard from our panelists to measure progress in our efforts to stop gender-based violence.

Everybody in the Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement has a role to play.  We encourage all of you to look at this roadmap, to identify what actions you can take to help promote these goals, and if you are not already a Call to Action partner, I urge you to consider joining the Call to Action.

We need a zero-tolerance policy toward gender-based violence against anyone — men, women, and children – and we need you to help make it happen.

Gender-based violence is insidious, affecting developed and developing countries alike.

Vice President Biden, who authored the Violence Against Women Act while in the Senate, has been a leader in efforts to end violence against women and girls for two decades.  And of course, under President Obama’s leadership, the United States released the first-ever U.S. Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Gender-based Violence Globally just over three years ago.

This is also a priority for me too.  Preventing and responding to gender-based violence is a central pillar of the U.S. Mission’s signature gender initiative – The Future She Deserves — an initiative that has been embraced by International Geneva and highlights what we can accomplish when we work together.  And I pledge to continue to make this a top priority in the coming year.

Together, I’m confident — as Secretary Kerry said just a few weeks ago at the Action Ministerial on Gender-Based Violence in Humanitarian Emergencies – he said I’m confident that together “we can be voices for people who don’t have a voice and provide protection for people who’ve never had the luxury of this kind of protection.”

So let’s work together, and work hard, to really make a difference in the lives of these victims and survivors.

Thank you.

Girl be Heard Perform at the Graduate Institute in Geneva

Opening Remarks by Ambassador Hamamoto at Girl Be Heard Performance

The Graduate Institute, Geneva
Thursday, November 19, 2015

Good evening!  Wow, what a great turnout!  Thank you all for coming to this special performance by the New York theater group Girl Be Heard!

A big thank you to our host, the Graduate Institute, and of course, to our performers.

Their ambition is simple yet powerful.  It is to empower young women to become brave, confident, and socially conscious leaders.

They have the ambition and the vision to create a world for young women to find strength, to realize their potential, and to rise above their circumstances and society’s expectations of them.

This is exactly what we at the U.S. Mission envisioned earlier this year when we launched a new, cross-cutting initiative called The Future She Deserves creating such a world.

And having you all here tonight is exactly what we envisioned when we started thinking about how through this initiative we could use what makes Geneva unique – its unique collection of diplomats, policy makers, specialists, business leaders, research institutes, and civil society – how to use what makes Geneva unique to foster innovative ways of collaborating that would unleash new opportunities for women and girls around the world.

That’s why we’re all here tonight.  For all the women who continue to face discrimination simply because of their gender.

And I’m happy to report that this International Geneva community is really coming together around these important gender issues.

In fact, inspired by the Future She Deserves, and in partnership with the US Mission, UNOG and Women@TheTable, just last month, almost 70 ambassadors and heads of international organizations signed on as Geneva Gender Champions, a new leadership network committed to promoting gender equality.

And already, these inaugural Gender Champions are driving real change in the way we engage on issues and in the support we provide to women in our organizations.

Maya Angelou — a famous civil rights activist and one of America’s most acclaimed poets – used to say that people will sometimes forget what you said or what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel.

I can guarantee that these young women will make you feel their vulnerabilities, the challenges they face, and even their despair.

But you will also feel their hope and dreams, their resilience and optimism, their energy and their power.

They’ve come together for different reasons and from different backgrounds.  And they represent different cultures, even if they are all uniquely American.

These young women are here to give a voice to all the women who too often are reduced to silence.

They are here to inspire us to break down barriers, to force us out of our comfort zone,to challenge us to re-double our efforts, and to motivate us to find solutions.

So sit back and listen closely, because these girls deserve to be heard!

Thank you and enjoy the performance!

The Role of Women and Girls in Countering Violent Extremism

“The current threat of violent extremism makes it even more pressing that we enlist and empower women and girls as agents of peace.”

Remarks by
Ambassador Pamela Hamamoto
Permanent Representative of the United States to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva

At a Roundtable on: “The Role of Women and Girls in Countering Violent Extremism”

Sponsored by the Geneva Center for Security Policy (GCSP), the Global Community Engagement Resilience Fund (GCERF) and the United States Mission to the United Nations in Geneva.

Geneva,
February 13, 2015

First, let me extend a warm welcome to everyone and thank GCSP and the Global Community Engagement Resilience Fund for organizing this important discussion on the role of women and girls in countering violent extremism, or CVE. It is an honor to be here in the company of experts in the field, practitioners, and fellow diplomats to discuss such a timely and necessary topic.

The United States is pleased to co-sponsor this initiative—one that fosters dialogue on women in community engagement as well as the role of women in multi-sectoral approaches to CVE.

This discussion builds on the many great initiatives and work already taking place on CVE.  And yet, we are only just beginning to touch on the nuanced and pivotal role of women and girls in this area.  It is my hope that we can work together – with our Geneva-based partners, civil society, and UN bodies to advance the dialogue here in Geneva and brainstorm how nations, societies, individuals, businesses and organizations can better contribute to the international fight against terrorism.  In particular, let’s shine a spot light on the powerful potential of women in countering violent extremism.

Today’s discussion is especially important to me as it is an example of the kind of engagement I am advocating through our new initiative at the U.S. Mission, the Future She Deserves. Through this initiative we aim to harness the combined efforts of Geneva-based organizations and multilateral institutions to ensure that women and girls are empowered, safe from violence, and able to lead healthy lives. The initiative is grounded in the belief that all stakeholders can achieve more by building linkages and alliances across sectors; improving accountability; reducing girls’ vulnerabilities, and harnessing their capacity to lead and make change in their communities. Many of the fundamental pillars of our initiative are integral to the discussion we will have today.

 Growing Challenge of Foreign Fighters

So, let’s get specific on the topic at hand.  We are here today to address the growing challenge of foreign fighters and the role women and girls can play in countering violent extremism.  We are seeing the implications of violent extremism on our societies across the globe, from Paris to Nigeria to Syria. We are witnessing an unprecedented flow of fighters and facilitation networks fueling conflicts in the Horn of Africa, Libya, Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. This trend has been particularly destructive in Iraq and Syria, with thousands of fighters joining terrorist groups such as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant or ISIL. While these terror organizations have been forced to further decentralize their recruitment efforts, advances in technology and globalization have made sharing their violent narratives easier.

And here is the challenge for us to discuss: Facts tell us that women are the targets of violence perpetrated by ISIL and ISIS; facts tell us that at the same time, many women flock to the ranks of ISIS – according to the New York Times, roughly 10 percent of its Western recruits are female; but, most crucially, common sense and past experience tells us that women wield significant influence in their families and can counter violent extremism.  If we can reach women – wives and mothers and daughters – we can support them in creating a new narrative, a narrative where empowered women can focus on the concerns of their families and neighbors – of their communities.

Holistic Approach Necessary

This is a multifaceted problem that requires a holistic response.  As part of our collective efforts to counter violent extremism, there need to be programs and funding available to reduce the pool of individuals susceptible to terrorist radicalization and recruitment to violence. For our efforts to be effective, they have to be driven by local knowledge and responsive to concerns of those local communities where violent extremism is a problem.

The United States is pleased to be working in partnership with GCERF, which is   the first global effort to support local, community-level initiatives aimed at strengthening resilience against violent extremist agendas.

GCERF’s work is just getting started, but it is already laying the foundation for its small grants program to local organizations, which will develop and implement programming serving specific audiences at risk of recruitment and radicalization to violence. The U.S. is a strong supporter of GCERF’s efforts, which are a key part of building the comprehensive international approach we need.

In the Unites States, we continue to refine and adapt our policies and programs in this area to be more comprehensive and proactive, in part by involving and incorporating women and civil society to the fullest extent possible.

Our National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security emphasizes the need to ensure that women’s perspectives are always part of the U.S. approach to peace processes, conflict prevention, the protection of civilians, and humanitarian assistance.

First, we are building women’s capacity in civil society and the security sector to counter the spread of violent extremism.  This includes enhancing the ability of local, national, and multinational women’s and peace groups committed to working against violent extremism to conduct effective public outreach and train women.

Second, we are encouraging more women’s participation and feedback from women as we develop and implement our countering violent extremism programs, or our anti-terrorism assistance.

Third, we are reviewing how our policies and programs on stemming extremism affect women.  This includes ensuring we discuss with partner governments how to protect civilians, including women and girls.

Finally, we are working to encourage the inclusion of women in counter-extremism and counterterrorism dialogues with governments and civil society, to elevate and amplify their voices.

In conclusion, the current threat of violent extremism makes it even more pressing that we enlist and empower women and girls as agents of peace.  Women can be critical actors in local CVE efforts due to their potential for identifying signs of radicalization, discouraging its occurrence, and serving as “force multipliers” to raise awareness among other women. Female voices are an essential part of coming to terms with the past by investing in a shared future that rejects conflict and promotes dignity.

I want to thank you all again for being here and welcome the distinguished panel here today. I will turn the floor back to our Chair, Ms. Penny Williams and look forward to a productive dialogue during today’s event.

Thank you.