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!
Opening Remarks by Mr. Michael Møller United Nations Under-Secretary-General Director-General, a.i., United Nations Office at Geneva
Launch presentation of the International Geneva Gender Champions Leadership Network
Palais des Nations 1 July 2015
Dear Colleagues and Friends:
Leadership matters. As leaders, every day you make a real difference in spearheading programmes for change across the world and in setting the tone and vision in your missions and organizations. And we are pleased that you are all here today to enable that leadership to matter even more for a cause that unites us all: gender equality and the full empowerment of all women and men.
When it comes to gender equality, we all have a role to play. Confronting bias in our own actions. Making sure that we conceive and implement progammes that promote empowerment of both women and men. In contributing to a working environment where all can contribute equally and fully. But as decision-makers we have a special responsibility to show the way and to create conditions where these individual and daily actions can be taken.
With the unique concentration of Member States, international organizations, civil society, research and academic institutions and private sector entities, International Geneva provides an ideal platform to show that leadership in a most practical way. Together, our actions have a truly global impact, making a difference for peace, rights and well-being for all people across the plant. We have a special responsibility to capitalize on this potential for greater gender equality.
And now is exactly the time to do it. 2015 is a critical year for advancing the cause of gender equality, with the 20th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the new post-2015 development agenda being put in place. If this agenda is to be truly transformative, we need to place gender equality at the heart of all of our efforts.
This is why we are inviting you all to join the International Geneva Gender Champions – a new network of decision-makers in Geneva to lead by example through concrete actions that lead to genuine change both in organizational culture and in programming.
The network draws on the US Mission’s Future She Deserves Initiative and the United Nations System-Wide Action Plan on Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women – UN-SWAP – and engages leaders at the highest levels here in Geneva. And we hope that you will all be part of it, to use your unique positions to galvanize action.
All Champions will commit to undertake three, concrete measurable, accountable institutional actions in the calendar year to advance gender equality, either in the executive management of the organization or in programmatic work. One of these actions will be to sign up to Geneva Gender Parity Pledge for inclusive panels.
Last week, at the successful Power of Empowered Women event, I announced that I will no longer accept invitations to serve on panel without any women participants. This is the essence of the Geneva Gender Parity Panel Pledge, which is an integral part of the Champions initiative.
As two additional concrete initiatives, I will initiate the compilation of a Gender Policy for UNOG, and we will introduce a gender equality component as part of all induction progrmmes at UNOG. With this combination of initiatives, I aim to both change mindsets within the Organization and ensure greater inclusivity and equality in the substantive discussions in International Geneva.
These are just two examples that are appropriate and helpful for UNOG. There will be many other activities or initiatives that will work for others. We are providing some ideas as part of the event today. And we will keep collecting good examples that we will post on the new website, to serve as a pool of inspiration.
It is now my pleasure to hand over to Ambassador Hamamoto who has been a key driving force in bringing together the Champions initiative. It is truly an honour to be working alongside her on this project, and to benefit from her passion and visionary leadership. Ambassador Hamamoto will provide more details on what it means to be an International Geneva Gender Champion, and what the next milestones in the project are.
In 2013 and 2014, the Power of Empowered Women events successfully highlighted the transformative impact women can make in society, when they are able to fully exercise their human rights. The debates demonstrated that women are not passive actors nor merely victims of human rights violations. Building on these achievements, the 2015 event on the Power of Empowered Women focused on women’s positive leadership in the domain of peace and security.
The 2015 event emphasized that despite an increasing understanding of the need for women’s positive engagement in leadership roles in conflict management and stabilization, progress in the field remains slow both in qualitative and quantitative terms. The debate highlighted some of the underlying causes, and demonstrated how they can be overcome by showcasing positive stories and impact of women who have succeeded in such roles.
Valerie Amos, FormerUnder-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Teresita Quintos Deles,first woman to be appointed as the Presidential Adviser for the Peace Process in the Philippines in 2003
Major General Kristin Lund,Force Commander of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP)
Elisabeth Rehn, Member of the Board of Directors of the ICC Trust Fund for Victims in the Hague
Mary Robinson,Former President of Ireland and former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
Dr. Paul Williams,Rebecca Grazier Professor of Law and International Relations at American University
Ghida Fakhry, former news and programmes presenter for Aljazeera English
Remarks by Ambassador Pamela Hamamoto Permanent Representative of the United States to the United Nations in Geneva
Launch presentation of the International Geneva Gender Champions Leadership Network
Palais des Nations 1 July 2015
Thank you all for being here to kick off our Geneva Gender Champions initiative. We know that it’s an incredibly busy week and your joining us here today means a great deal to us.
As Michael mentioned, today, he and I are jointly launching a new initiative focused on gender equality and the empowerment of women. And we are asking you, as the decision makers and leaders in Geneva, to join us in making a personal commitment to do what you can to break down some of the systemic barriers that are preventing women from reaching their full potential, from having a true seat at the table, from contributing to society in all the ways we know they can if simply given equal opportunities to do so.
It is unacceptable that four decades after the first World Conference on Women, that 20 years after the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, I am standing before you presenting these representative statistics:
In the United Nations system, women represent only 30% of senior leadership.
Currently the labor force participation rate for women is 50%, compared to almost 80% for men.
Women hold less than 20% of board seats globally, and less than 5% of CEOs of the world’s largest corporations are women.
As of January 2015, only 10 out of 152 Heads of State and 14 out of 193 Heads of Government were women.
Now, as you heard from Michael, the commitments we are asking you to make are not just symbolic commitments. But don’t get me wrong…the symbolism is indeed important. Because you all know that what you do here, as Ambassadors and Heads of Organizations, has a multiplier effect out in the world. You can help level the playing field for women and girls. That’s what you, as head of your organization, are able to do. And that’s what I feel you, as head of your organization, have a responsibility to do.
Again, as Michael mentioned, to become a Geneva Gender Champion, we are asking you to make 3 commitments. The underlying premise of this initiative is not that it’s hard to make these commitments, but rather that it’s hard NOT to. Because while we are asking everyone to sign on to the Gender Panel Parity Pledge (which I will explain in a minute), the other two institutional commitments are customized by YOU based on what works for your organization.
For some, this will be an opportunity to commit to taking bold steps, while for others, this will be an opportunity to commit to taking first steps – and both approaches are perfectly fine. I will offer to personally work with you to figure out how you can become a member of this leadership team. Because what is important is that we are all working together, supporting each others’ efforts, and by doing so, sending a powerful message to the International Geneva community, that collectively, we feel these issues should be prioritized in our work.
Going back to the Gender Panel Parity Pledge, we are not asking you to commit to only organizing or participating on panels that have 50-50 gender parity. That would be unrealistic. We are asking you to commit to STRIVING for gender parity, by implementing a process within your organization that will ultimately allow for more women’s voices to be heard. The Panel Parity Pledge provides a tool to build awareness in our work by offering a series of questions for you to consider when invited to participate on a panel. This tool will remind us all to make a concerted effort to seek diverse representation from both men and women in order to have fuller, more balanced discussions.
Some colleagues who are interested in becoming Geneva Gender Champions have expressed concern because they first need to get clearance from their capitals. So let me quickly review the timeline. We are asking that by September 1 – or better yet by today – you notify us that you are committing to becoming a Geneva Gender Champion. Then, by September 30, we ask that you inform us of your two specific institutional commitments, and allow us to post them on the Geneva Gender Champions website. Then, since these are meant to be concrete, measurable commitments, the following September we will hold an annual meeting and review progress.
In the future, we hope to expand this leadership network to include leading NGOs and private sector partners who are interested in making similar commitments on behalf of their organizations.
It takes great partners like Michael to make meaningful change a reality. He is dedicated to increasing gender representation in leadership positions, closing the gaps, empowering women and girls, and facilitating their involvement as equal members of society…and I’m happy to be joining forces with him on this important initiative. And it’s truly an honor to have the opportunity to celebrate his official appointment as Director General and the launch of this initiative on the same day. I find it very fitting given the leadership he has always shown as a true gender champion.
So again, thank you very much for coming, we hope you now have a better understanding of what we are looking for, and why your personal commitment is necessary if we are going to affect real, lasting change for women and girls around the world.
Thank you very much. And now we’d love to answer any questions you may have.
Opening remarks by Ambassador Pamela Hamamoto Permanent Representative of the United States to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva
“The power of empowered women 2015: women’s leadership in peace and security.” Human Rights Council Side Event Tuesday, 23 June 2015 Assembly Hall, Palais des Nations
ladies and gentlemen,
I am Ambassador Hamamoto from the US Mission, and on behalf of the Group of Women Ambassadors, I would like to welcome you all to the third annual Power of Empowered Women event. The Group of Women Ambassadors – empowered women in their own right – are deeply committed to gender equality and to women’s full involvement in all aspects of society, and we are thrilled that you could join us.
We would like to thank this incredible panel for making time to be here today, to share your stories, and to highlight the positive impact your leadership has had in the domain of peace and security. In recognition of the 15th anniversary of UN Security Council Resolution 1325, we are interested in shining a light on the important role women are playing in the prevention and resolution of conflicts and in peace-building and peace-keeping, and we offer our support as we continue to push for women’s equal participation and an increased role in decision making. Your contributions throughout your careers to empowering women around the world are an inspiration to us all, and as evidenced by the energy level in the room, it’s clear that we are all anxious to hear more about your ongoing work in these areas.
With that, it is my pleasure to introduce Michael Moller, Director General of the United Nations Office in Geneva, an incredible partner of mine and a true ally in our efforts here in International Geneva to drive positive change for women and girls around the world. Michael recently stated, “We all need to be gender champions, at whatever level we are at and in whatever function.” I can always count on Michael for valuable advice on where to focus our efforts in order to have the greatest impact, and I look forward to our continued close collaboration on these important issues in the coming months.
Women who are leading efforts to combat violent extremism in their communities in Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, and South and Central Asia are visiting the United States, June 6-21, to participate in the International Visitor Leadership Program, “Women Preventing Violent Extremism.” This program is part of the State Department’s efforts to engage civil society and local communities in these efforts.
The 25 women leaders will begin the program by attending the Women and Extremism Summit in Washington D.C., co-hosted by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue and the Center for Strategic and International Studies, on June 8-9. The summit is focused on the roles that women play in extremism and counter-extremism.
Throughout the program, these women will further explore how counter-narratives and grassroots engagement can delegitimize radical ideology in vulnerable communities. Through meetings with local leaders, think tanks, U.S. government, and leading technology and communications companies in Washington D.C., New York City, and San Francisco, participants will examine ways to strengthen counterterrorism activities and associated programs. These women will also establish a global network for ongoing cooperation.
Participants are arriving from Bangladesh, Bulgaria, Croatia, Denmark, Egypt, Georgia, India, Italy, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Macedonia, the Maldives, Morocco, Norway, Pakistan, the Palestinian Territories, Poland, Slovenia, Switzerland, Tajikistan, and the United Kingdom.
For further information about this program, follow the hashtag #ChallengeExtremism. Interested media should contact the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at email@example.com.
On June 1st, as part of the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative, President Obama hosted a meeting with 75 emerging leaders from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) at the White House. The 75 leaders who attended the session were made up of a group of 55 YSEALI Professional Fellows and 20 YSEALI Academic Fellows representing all 10 ASEAN countries. The group at the White House was the first to visit the United States as part of the YSEALI fellowship program, announced by Obama in Burma in November 2014. The Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative encourages civic and government leaders from Southeast Asia to enhance their leadership skills and work with their American counterparts to help promote economic empowerment, good governance, and environmental and natural resources management in their home countries.
One of the main takeaways for the members of YSEALI was revealed when President Obama told the young leaders that one of the most important things that he stood for was making sure that he was treating everyone fairly — no matter their sex, race, religion, or sexual orientation. The President emphasized that as long as you had a clear view of what you stood for, you could always look yourself in the mirror and know who you were and why you were doing what you were doing.
“You have to stand for something. That’s my most important advice,” Obama said.
“Each of you has developed a project, an action plan, and you’ll take what you learned here and put it into practice, and we are going to be with you during this process as you build your ventures, expand your networks and [mentor] young people that are coming behind you.”
Remarks by Ambassador Pamela Hamamoto Swiss-American Chamber of Commerce – American International Club
Hotel Mandarin Oriental, Geneva, Switzerland
June 2, 2015
As Prepared for Delivery
Good afternoon everyone. I am delighted to be here today. I’d like to thank Martin Naville for inviting me and for giving me the opportunity to discuss my work with the United Nations here in Geneva, why multilateralism matters to the United States and why it should matter to you.
As Ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, I lead the U.S. Mission in our multilateral engagement to advance U.S. foreign policy interests – which sounds pretty “wonky” – but what it really means is that I head up our efforts to improve the lives of men, women and children all over the world by working with the UN system and the myriad of International Organizations in Geneva.
Since I arrived in Geneva almost a year ago, there have been quite a number of high profile issues that have kept us busy, including working with the World Health Organization on the response to the Ebola crisis and repeated visits by Secretary Kerry – including this past weekend – as part of the negotiations with Iran.
Before I proceed further with my remarks, I would like to show you a brief video that I think will give you a glimpse of the depth, breadth and pace of the work we do here in international Geneva.
As you can see, it has been an exciting year, to say the least! In some ways it feels like I just got here, but you know the saying: “time flies when you’re having fun!”
During my remarks today, I will focus on U.S. government engagement with international organizations, describe the multi-stakeholder approach to multilateral diplomacy, and discuss how the public and private sectors can work together – and why they should work together to drive better results.
I’d like to first take a quick look back. Fifteen years ago, heads of state gathered at the Millennium Summit at the United Nations Headquarters in New York to discuss how the UN and its member states could work together to confront the challenges of the next millennium and improve the lives of people in developing countries. At that time, world leaders committed to eight objectives – concrete targets called the Millennium Development Goals or MDGs: the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger; universal primary education; gender equality and the empowerment of women; the reduction of child mortality; an improvement in maternal health; defeating HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases; ensuring environmental sustainability; and the creation of a global partnership for development.
The Summit cited freedom, equality, solidarity, tolerance, respect for nature and shared responsibility as six values fundamental to international relations for the 21st century. It also recognized the need to “give greater opportunities to the private sector, non-governmental organizations, and civil society…to contribute to the realization of the organization’s goals and programs.”
Over the past 15 years, the MDGs have succeeded in bringing together governments, the international community, civil society and the private sector to achieve concrete results for development and poverty eradication. Much has been accomplished – saving and improving the lives of many people. For example, malaria vaccines for women and children in countries ranging from Nigeria to Guatemala were provided through partnerships with organizations such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Global Fund . The U.S. government, in collaboration with the government of Haiti, the Inter-American Development Bank and a Korean garment manufacturer, funded an industrial park with the capacity to support 60,000 jobs and decentralize the Haitian economy.And Coca-Cola’s 5by20 initiativecontinues to bring women into their global value chain with the aim of empowering 5 million women entrepreneurs by 2020.
Overall, we reduced extreme poverty by half. We improved access to clean and safe drinking water for the world’s poor, the political participation of women has continued to increase, 90% of children in developing regions now have access to primary education, and disparities between boys and girls enrollment have narrowed.
More Work Remains
But, the work remains unfinished. One in four children is still undernourished and child mortality is still distressingly high. Women continue to face significant economic, political, and legal hurdles that their male counterparts do not. Only one least developed country is actually on track to meet all 8 of the Millennium Development Goals (Laos). Natural disasters related to climate change seem to be increasing, and environmental sustainability may be out of reach unless the international community can truly come together this year. Not just around the world, but even in the United States we see the consequences of this unfinished business in the economic, social, and development challenges that we continue to face today.
The migration crises we are addressing today illustrate the complexity of the issues we are facing as a global community. From the unaccompanied minors crossing the U.S.-Mexico border from Central America, to the Rohingya stranded in the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea, to those seeking to enter Europe by both land and by sea from Africa and the Middle East, these crises are truly a global phenomenon. Men, women, and children are fleeing war, economic insecurity, famine, state-sponsored aggression and more. Furthermore, these persons are often subject to cruelty, abuse, and mistreatment at the hands of human traffickers. The result is that today we are confronted with the highest number of forcibly-displaced persons since World War II.
2015 is Critical
Like me, you may feel at times that the challenges of the 21st century are overwhelming. And it’s true, that the burden on all of us is indeed heavy. But in reality, I’m excited to have arrived in Geneva when I did. Because 2015 provides a unique opportunity for the global community – the public and private sectors – to work together to tackle the problems in front of us – to get it right – and I am excited to be here at this point in time to help champion collaborative and innovative solutions. I hope historians will say that this was the beginning of a turning point when the international community came together and acted.
And we have many opportunities to do so. This September, the UN will convene in New York to adopt the Post-2015 agenda, which will likely cover a wide range of issues such as building resilient communities, improving infrastructure, eradicating poverty everywhere, and promoting trade. The goals will integrate key sustainability priorities, including climate change, and will target areas such as agriculture, renewable energy, and healthy oceans. They will ensure that transformative issues such as gender equality, governance, and inclusive growth are captured. And the goals will reflect a new “global partnership” that will mobilize the actions of both the public and private sectors.
We will celebrate the 70th anniversary of the United Nations, and in November and December, governments will meet in Paris to negotiate a new international agreement on climate change, and in Nairobi at the WTO Ministerial to continue efforts to advance global trade. Additionally, global consultations are underway for the first ever World Humanitarian Summit, which will take place next year. And these are just a few examples. The coming months will be very busy indeed, and provide many important opportunities for us to engage multilaterally.
Multi-stakeholder Approach Key
The complexity of the challenges facing us is too great for governments alone to overcome. Now, more than ever, the private sector has a central role to play in creating practical and sustainable solutions to global problems.
This is exactly why the United States continues to press for a multi-stakeholder approach in multilateral arenas – the involvement of all relevant stakeholders from government, the private sector, civil society, and academia. We recognize that open collaboration with business and civil society is necessary to better reflect and respond to the globalized, interconnected, and highly complex world of today.
For instance, nowhere are the benefits of the multi-stakeholder approach more apparent than in the area of international communication and information technology. As we transition from the Millennium Development Goals to the Sustainable Development Goals, we continue to work towards a more people-centered information society. Of course, stakeholders, public and private, are critical to making this happen.
IT institutions, which include UN agencies, are increasingly incorporating the expertise and participation of the private sector, and in turn, technology is being used to more effectively address a wide range of economic, social, and development issues. The result has been an increase in innovation and a transformative effect for human empowerment and development, with mobile phone technology epitomizing the possibilities – as well as the results – of what can happen when we integrate technology and development priorities.
Today, 94% of rural populations are covered by mobile networks – a game changer for those residing in developing countries. People around the world now have greater access to valuable information, and in Africa, 64 million people are now linked to the formal banking sector through mobile accounts, many of whom had no previous banking relationship.
Beyond access to banking, mobile networks are having a transformative impact in other important fields, such as education and global health.
And speaking of global health – another great example of the benefits of multi-stakeholder engagement? The international response to the recent Ebola outbreak. We could not have made the progress that has been made without the coordinated efforts of the World Health Organization, along with governments, health care professionals, scientists, pharmaceutical companies, NGOs, and foundations – all working together toward the common goal of stopping the spread of Ebola and saving lives.
The reality is – the countless benefits that public-private collaboration has produced over the last fifteen years are proof positive that the multi-stakeholder model should not only continue, but deserves praise and recognition, reaffirmation, and reinvestment.
So why is public-private collaboration so important to me? As many of you know, I come from the private sector. I started my career in engineering, working to maximize energy production at hydroelectric power plants. I worked in telecommunications when the industry was undergoing rapid deregulation leading to new products and new market opportunities. And I worked as an investment banker with companies from many sectors, including health care, consumer products, energy, telecommunications, real estate and finance.
My experience in engineering, computer programming, energy, telecommunications and investment banking – are all fields that at their core seek and value constant innovation, improvement, and collaboration – an approach it is clear we need when it comes to solving global problems, and an approach that I am committed to following.
I recognize that businesses, like those of many of you in the room today, provide the “reality check” that at times our governments need. We live in a world where statistics and indicators from companies such as Western Union, about the volume and impact of remittances to developing countries, are just as valid as data coming from the UN Conference on Trade and Development. Where the price of a Big Mac can predict an economic bubble or where Google search cluster data can predict a flu outbreak.
And it is increasingly from business that the tangible solutions necessary to address complex issues are being provided – whether it is through the provision of capital, technology, equipment, or training.
Official development assistance, which is assistance directly from governments, is no longer the main source of aid. Thirty years ago, 70% of resource flows from the U.S. to the developing world came in the form of Official Development Assistance, or ODA. Today, 80% of those resource flows come from foreign direct investment, private donations, remittances, and other non-governmental sources. ODA accounts for only 14% of these resource flows today, underscoring the increasing importance of the private sector in the development process.
Now that doesn’t mean that ODA doesn’t matter. It remains critically important. Last month the Organization for Economic Development (OECD) released its preliminary 2014 net Official Development Assistance estimates. The data shows that once again the United States led all other donors, providing $32.73 billion in net assistance, an increase of $1.23 billion over the prior year.
This consisted of $27 billion in bilateral aid and 5 ½ billion dollars in core contributions to multilateral organizations supporting development, both record amounts.
So, yes, more than $32 billion in annual ODA is definitely significant. However, it must be understood in the broader context, because today, 53 of the 100 largest economies in the world are companies, and one company alone (Proctor & Gamble) is capable of reaching 4 billion customers – nearly 60% of the world’s population. And we all know that businesses today are capable of having an impact that can at times be more immediate and more responsive than government.
Now couple these statistics with the estimate that developing countries face a $2.5 trillion annual investment gap in key sustainable development sectors that include basic infrastructure, food security, climate change mitigation and adaptation, health and education. I believe public-private partnerships will play an increasing role in filling this gap going forward.
But our commitment to multi-stakeholder engagement is not just about closing the financing gap. Foreign Direct Investment in developing countries can create jobs, develop technology and new production capacity, and help local businesses access new markets. We need to harness the positive aspects and inherent dynamism of these investments to make them force multipliers.
Returning to the example of international migration, the private sector can play a significant positive, multi-faceted role – as a service provider for migrants and displaced persons, as an employer of migrants, in developing innovative approaches to humanitarian response and providing critical assistance in rescue at sea.
In order to address these humanitarian issues, as well as unemployment, global security, human rights abuses, deplorable working conditions and other development challenges, we must go beyond surface-level interventions. We must break down silos. We must innovate. We must focus on sustainability. We must consider climate change. And we must do it together.
It makes no sense to discuss workers’ rights at the International Labor Organization without factory and other business owners at the table, which is why the ILO is unique in its tripartite structure that brings together representatives of governments, employees, and the private sector.
It makes no sense to discuss best practices for promoting investment in developing countries at the UN Conference for Trade and Development without the input of actual investors – which is why the World Investment Forum brings together thousands of stakeholders, including the private sector, to discuss sustainable development investments.
We shouldn’t discuss access to medication in the World Health Organization and World Intellectual Property Organization without pharmaceutical manufacturers and researchers.
Similarly, we shouldn’t discuss Internet policy at the International Telecommunications Union without service providers or Silicon Valley executives, and we must include the perspective of international businesses when discussing trade facilitation at the UN Economic Commission for Europe.
We work hard at the U.S. Mission to promote and defend U.S. economic, social, and environmental interests in every one of the UN and other international organizations that we cover. But it makes no sense to do this without regularly engaging and consulting with stakeholders like you.
I’m here to ask you to get involved. Attend meetings at the UN, participate in workshops for developing countries, and reach out directly to us at the U.S. Mission. We value your input.
Future She Deserves
And I happen to have a great opportunity for you! As some of you may already know, we recently launched an initiative called The Future She Deserves – with the goal of leveraging Geneva-based institutions to protect and empower women and girls. The initiative is focused on four key areas: preventing and responding to gender-based violence, ensuring adolescent girls have access to the full range of appropriate health services; promoting leadership opportunities; and empowering women and girls economically. You may ask – why the focus on women and girls?
Here’s why. Because women own only 1% of the world’s wealth and account for 70% of the world’s poor. Because if women had equal access to land, new technologies and capital, the number of hungry people in the world would be cut by 12 to 17%. Because in 2013, 80% of new HIV infections in the hardest hit countries were adolescent girls. Because 1 in 3 women worldwide has experienced physical or sexual violence in her lifetime. Because worldwide, more than 700 million women alive today were married as children. And because every year, 60 million girls are assaulted at or on their way to school.
By focusing our efforts on women and girls, we will reduce gender based violence, improve their access to health services, educate and empower them so that they can reach their full potential, support their families and communities, make their voices heard and fulfill their dreams.
Over the past few months since the launch, we have been bringing this unique multilateral community together in new ways to find innovative solutions through collaboration and renewed commitment. We are partnering with UNOG Director General Michael Møller, the head of the UN in Geneva, to launch a Geneva Gender Champions Initiative, we are exploring ways to use the World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leaders to broaden our reach to communities around the world, we have brought together key diplomats, agency heads, industry experts and community leaders around the same table to discuss cross-cutting gender issues, urging them to think “outside the box.” We have actively supported programs and initiatives that align with our four key pillars. And this is just the beginning.
You can learn more about this initiative on our website: FutureSheDeserves.Net. I also brought some bookmarks with me today to help you remember where to look for more information.
So now I ask you, what is it that you can do to help? Can your industry or your business have its own Gender Champions Initiative? Can you help us mobilize resources in creative ways to better protect the most vulnerable? Can your industry partner with international organizations to empower women and girls through education, mentoring, job opportunities or better access to resources? I have no doubt that if we held a brainstorming session in this room for the next couple of hours it would result in several promising ideas worth pursuing that could transform a young girls life.
Though the needs are great, I believe the resources we have at our disposal – as governments, civil society, and the public and private sectors working together – are sufficient to take important steps toward creating a more prosperous and peaceful world. I challenge you and your colleagues to get involved, because by working together we really can make a difference.
I thank you for your attention and look forward to your question
WISE: Work in Sports Exhibition, Lausanne, Beaulieu
Remarks by Ambassador Pamela Hamamoto
U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations
and Other International Organizations
Note: WISE is an international convention for career development in sports. This yearly 2-day event gathers around 1’000 participants and 65+ exhibitors in Lausanne, Switzerland, the Olympic capital.
Thursday, May 7, 2015
I am honored to have the opportunity to participate on this panel today and to discuss a topic that has always played an important role in my life…sports. Participating in sports my entire life has clearly shaped who I am today and the path I chose to get here.
And I am humbled by the many talented athletes and sports enthusiasts who are here today, like Donna de Varona and many of you in the audience, who remain committed to improving opportunities in sports for women and girls around the world. In the U.S., a law passed by Congress called Title IX paved the way for female athletes, but of course there is still more work to be done. I will talk more about Title IX in a minute.
I am particularly excited about the many opportunities for integrating sports diplomacy into a new initiative our US Mission here in Geneva recently launched called The Future She Deserves. Through sports diplomacy, we can highlight the importance of providing equal opportunities for women and girls, and my colleague Trina Bolton will talk more about the U.S. Government’s Empowering Women & Girls Through Sports Initiative, which advances the rights and participation of women and girls around the world by using sports as a vehicle toward greater opportunity and inclusion.
But first, I’d like to take you back to my childhood, where I had the pleasure of growing up with three athletic brothers and countless hours of unstructured play time on afternoons and weekends engaged in all kinds of sports with the neighborhood kids, thinking at the time that it was all fun and games. But in reality, at an early age, we were developing valuable skills and learning life lessons through participation in sports: teamwork, leadership, self-confidence, sportsmanship, negotiating skills, the value of hard work to name just a few. All transferrable skills for both boys and girls, men and women.
In the early 1970s, only 1 in 27 high school girls, that is less than 4%, played sports. And on average, universities spent only 2% of their athletic budgets on female athletes. But when the U.S. Congress passed Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 things finally started to change. Title IX states:
“No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.”
This legislation was transformative. Even though the word “sports” did not appear in the original Title IX legislation, the law has become synonymous with increased opportunities for girls in athletics. Mariah Burton Nelson, a former professional athlete and now a well-known writer and professional speaker, wrote, “Sports for women represents autonomy, strength, pleasure, community, control, justice and power…It changes everything.” It did for me, and for many others, including others in this room. Today, instead of 1 in 27 high school girls participating in sports, that number is closer to 1 in 3.
In the 1970s, I was the 1 out of 27 girls in high school, and I went on to participate in college sports and beyond. And through both playing and coaching, I have seen first-hand the empowerment that comes from sports. Improved self-confidence and decision making. Building and maintaining relationships. Leadership. Resilience. Teamwork. Discipline. These skills developed through sports are transferable. And they are empowering.
Recent studies confirmed what I have always felt to be true. An Oppenheimer study found that 82% of women in executive level positions had played organized sports, and nearly half of women earning $75,000 or more identified themselves as athletes. An Ernst & Young study found that 96% of women senior executives participated in sports at some level. Women’s increased access to sports and their rise in the American professional ranks is certainly not coincidental.
EBay CEO Meg Whitman was on the lacrosse and squash teams at Princeton. Mrs. Fields Cookies’ founder Debbi Fields was an avid equestrian. AT&T’s CEO Betsy Bernard credits “ski racing on the edge of a wipeout since age 5 for her ability to see her job as more exhilarating than frightening.” The studies show what you all know instinctively, that the life lessons we learn on the playing field are fundamental to success in all aspects of life. And not surprising, sports also teach us how to fail, successfully. To get back up. To work harder. To work smarter. IBM’s vice president for global security solutions stated that sports taught her: “You don’t always win. You have to deal with disappointment and not lose sight of your goals.” Further, participating in co-ed sports and sharing an interest in discussing sports with colleagues serve as a unifying force that helps forge a common language between men and women. Much of my education and the majority of my career were spent in male dominated fields – engineering, computer programming and investment banking – and I believe much of my success was due to the fact that I could speak that common language.
While there is always room for further improvement in the United States, we have made great strides in this area in the past few decades. Unfortunately, millions of women and girls in many parts of the world still do not have access to a fair playing field – literally and figuratively. Simply providing sports fields for girls has incredible impacts: By a 3-1 ratio, girls who play sports stay in school longer, get better grades, have higher self-esteem and earn on average 14% higher wages once out of school. Additionally, girls who are engaged in athletic programs are more likely to benefit from health and social programs that are made available in their communities.
I’d like to highlight a new initiative – called The Future She Deserves – which our Mission recently launched here in Geneva. The overarching objective is to Protect and Empower Women and Girls through innovative partnerships and approaches and more effective collaboration across this unique multilateral platform we have here in Geneva. The initiative is focused around four key pillars:
To prevent and respond to gender based violence;
To ensure adolescent girls’ have access to the full range of appropriate health services;
To empower women and girls economically; and
To promote leadership opportunities.
The Future She Deserves aims to dig deeper, understand where the blockages are inside international institutions and make the necessary changes so that women and girls can succeed. I must say that while preparing for this event, I have come to realize the significant role sports diplomacy can play in achieving the goals of the Future She Deserves. One of the best places to learn valuable skills and have access to valuable resources is on the playing field. Trina will elaborate further on sports diplomacy, but the truth is, aid and development programs around the world have only begun to scratch the surface on what sports can do for women and girls.
Six hundred million girls are growing up in developing countries today. However, the majority of opportunities to participate in sport programs are still dominated by boys and men. Well-designed sports programs for girls in developing countries can make all the difference in the world, instilling confidence and leadership skills that will make these girls an unstoppable force.
On that note, I want to bring these amazing women sitting here with me into the conversation. Each of them in their own way is making a difference. Each has created valuable entry points for women and girls in sports, and the results speak for themselves. I hope you find their stories as inspirational as I do, and I hope like them, you will consider becoming a champion for empowering women and girls through sports.