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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!

Gender and Trade: Ambassador Hamamoto Remarks at the WTO Future She Deserves Panel

Gender and Trade: Ambassador Hamamoto Remarks at the WTO Future She Deserves Panel » US Mission Geneva

Future She Deserves Panel at the World Trade Organization
July 2, 2015
Geneva

Thank you, Arancha, for that gracious introduction.  I’m excited to participate in this plenary on a topic that is very timely, very relevant, and clearly very important.

I know that, like me, you started your career in the private sector — advising companies on trade, competition, and state-aid matters, and I can’t think of a better moderator for today’s session.

Ministers, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen –

When the Fifth Global Review of Aid for Trade was first mentioned, my immediate thought was that women’s economic empowerment really must be a central theme. And this is in fact the case. The Fifth Global Review’s overall focus is on reducing trade costs, which is particularly advantageous for small and medium sized enterprises, or SMEs, which find it especially difficult to bear these costs.  And since the majority of women-owned businesses are SMEs, reducing trade costs will disproportionately benefit and economically empower women business owners.  We need to continue to shine a spotlight on the challenges women business owners and entrepreneurs face, in order to facilitate their playing an even greater role in the global economy.  Robust implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement will greatly reduce trade costs, especially for SMEs.

Women currently represent 40 percent of the global labor force, and approximately one third of SMEs are owned by women, but on virtually every global measure, women are more economically excluded than men. Women farmers tend to farm smaller plots and less profitable crops.  Women entrepreneurs tend to operate in smaller firms and less profitable sectors. Gallup estimates that globally, men are nearly twice as likely as women to have full-time jobs, and women in every country generally earn less than men.

Like me, at times you may feel that these challenges are overwhelming.  But I look at this incredible panel and I can’t help but feel hopeful. The global community, the public and private sectors are coming together like never before to tackle the problems in front of us – to get it right – and I am excited to be here to help champion collaborative and innovative solutions.

Much is already being done at all levels to better integrate women into supply chains.

  • Legal frameworks that constrain female entrepreneurial activity are being reformed.
  • Promising work is being done to harness technological innovation and facilitate e-commerce as drivers of growth for women-owned businesses.
  • Public Private Partnerships are being created to support women entrepreneurs.
  • Work is being done
    • to improve women’s rights of ownership,
    • to increase women’s control over land and assets,
    • to enhance women’s access to credit and valuable market data,
    • to formulate better trade policies, and
    • to empower women broadly through more inclusive supply chains.

However, we all know that much more needs to be done.  For example, it is vitally important for women-owned businesses to be able to export their products. Why?  Because simply put, studies have found that women-owned firms that export their goods and services are much more successful.  In the United States, they are not only more profitable, they also employ five times more people and offer jobs that pay 1.6 times more than women-owned firms that do not export.  Women-owned businesses that export report average sales of $16.3 million, compared to approximately $800,000 for women-owned businesses that do not export.  So clearly, exporting has very real advantages, and since currently less than 2% of women-owned businesses export, we must take steps to provide women greater access to new markets.

But what other steps can we take to empower women to further integrate into supply chains?  How can we effectively design support programs that help women entrepreneurs move into growth sectors, with the potential for job creation and productivity gains. How do we move beyond narratives that confine women to specific business categories, particularly micro enterprises with little room for growth?

Recently, the World Bank Group reviewed the empirical literature to begin to answer these very questions.  The evidence shows that including mentoring and networking support as part of comprehensive programs on business practices significantly increases their effectiveness.

So today, I would like to focus for just a minute on mentoring and networking programs, which have earned recognition as lower-cost interventions that have yielded dramatic results in many regions of the world.

The United States Government’s African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program — an outreach, education and engagement initiative launched in July 2010 — has many success stories.  One of its alumni, Comfort Adjahoe from Ghana, has grown her company from a small shea butter business in 1995 to currently employing 5,000 small-holder farmers in northern Ghana and 300 employees in Accra.  This business transformation was assisted in part by Comfort’s participation in networking programs and in several AGOA trade shows in the United States.

In South Africa, a rigorous impact evaluation found that participants in programs that provided mentoring services in addition to training in business skills were able to generate significant increases in annual sales, number of employees, and number of customers.

In another part of the world, a great example of creative collaboration can be found in the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum. In September 2011, the Policy Partnership on Women and the Economy was created through the collaboration of APEC government officials and private sector leaders.  After a 2013 study identified the lack of women entrepreneurial networks as one of the key obstacles for women-owned businesses in the region, APEC began developing a regional partnership network among women-owned enterprises and is working to strengthen private sector access to goods and services produced by women entrepreneurs.  So far, the results are very encouraging.

And we must remember that this is not just a women’s issue.  Men and women must work together in order to achieve real progress. In Uganda, a 2013 study found that women who had access to male role models were between 55 and 74% more likely to cross over into higher-productivity business sectors than women who had no such access.

Although the needs are great, I believe the resources we have at our disposal – governments, the private sector and civil society – are sufficient to unleash the significant economic potential of women entrepreneurs, if we commit to working together to develop comprehensive solutions with tangible results.

As some of you may know, I recently launched an initiative called The Future She Deserves – with the over-arching goal of leveraging Geneva-based institutions to better protect and empower women and girls.  Of course, one of our four key pillars has at its core the economic empowerment of women.  Over the past few months, we have focused on bringing this unique multilateral community together in new ways to drive innovative solutions. Just yesterday, we launched the Geneva Gender Champions Initiative in partnership with UNOG Director General Michael Møller, to create a leadership network personally committed gender equality and women’s leadership.  We believe that through our collective efforts, we can raise women’s voices and help them realize their full potential.

We are living in a time of both enormous global challenges and enormous global opportunities. Business and the private sector, including women-owned businesses, need to play a central role in how we define our future and tackle these challenges. Women are not just beneficiaries of programs, and this is not just about women’s participation in supply chains. Gender equality and economic growth go hand in hand! This is about empowering women in a way that leads to successful businesses and, through a positive feedback loop, to even further improvements in gender roles and relations. This is about women as agents for change, and women as full contributors to the prosperity of their families, communities, countries and regions, and to the sustainable development of our world.

This impressive panel brings together a diverse set of perspectives that Arancha will describe next. I’m sure they will have many thoughtful and creative suggestions on how to address these themes of women’s access to opportunity, resources, and agency.

Thank you for your attention and I look forward to the presentations and the discussion that will follow.

International Geneva Gender Champions Launch: Ambassador Hamamoto’s Remarks

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 makDirector General Moller's Remarks linking 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.