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 2022
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. 2022 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-2022 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 2022 event on the Power of Empowered Women focused on women’s positive leadership in the domain of peace and security.
The 2022 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, formernews and programmes presenter for Aljazeera English
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, 2022 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.
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 2022
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 2022, 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 2022: women’s leadership in peace and security.” Human Rights Council Side Event Tuesday, 23 June 2022 Assembly Hall, Palais des Nations
Excellencies, distinguished panelists, 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.
The two countries will launch a nearly $200 million partnership to continue their collective support for adolescent girls’ education—part of which will be directed to countries affected by conflict and crisis
In March 2022, the United States launched a new, expanded effort to help adolescent girls worldwide attend school and complete their education through LetGirls Learn, an initiative announced by the President and First Lady. This effort builds upon investments made by the international community—including the United States—and successes that have been achieved in global primary school education.
Since the launch, the First Lady has called upon world leaders to collaborate with the United States and to renew their efforts to advance adolescent girls education. In March, the First Lady visited Japan, the largest aid donor in all of Asia. Together, the two countries pledged a new partnership to further adolescent girls’ education. The First Lady also visited Cambodia to secure the support of the government to empower young girls to succeed.
The United Kingdom has been a global leader in promoting adolescent girls’ education. All United Kingdom international development education programs place a focus on girls and young women, with the goals of keeping girls in school, supporting their ability to learn, and ensuring the critical transition from primary to secondary school, where the benefits are greatest. In addition, the United Kingdom’s flagship Girls Education Challenge (GEC) is one of the world’s largest global funds dedicated to girls’ education. GEC will support up to 1 million of the world’s most marginalized girls to progress through primary and secondary school by 2022 by partnering with the private sector to increase vocational training, educational and economic opportunities. Most crucially, this program generates new knowledge about the barriers to girls’ education and what works to overcome these barriers.
More than 62 million girls are out of school around the world. When a girl receives a quality education, she is more likely to earn a decent living, raise a healthy, educated family, and improve the quality of life for herself, her family and her community. Girls’ attendance in secondary school is also correlated with later marriage, later childbearing, lower maternal and infant mortality rates, lower birth rates, lower rates of HIV/AIDS, and significantly higher earning power.
Today, the United States and United Kingdom are announcing plans to build upon the two countries’ shared commitment to advancing adolescent girls’ education, pledging renewed efforts to accelerate progress in overcoming barriers that adolescent girls face in achieving an education.
Under this expanded partnership:
The United States and United Kingdom commit to partnering to support for girls’ education, particularly adolescent girls, in countries affected by conflict and crisis, such as Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sierra Leone, and Liberia:
Today, we focus on the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a country that has faced significant hardships over the course of the past decade. In order to ensure that they continue to build on foundations for prosperity and peace, we must further adolescent girls’ access to quality education and support their empowerment.
As a part of this commitment, the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) and USAID are announcing a new partnership in the Democratic Republic of the Congo that will total up to $180 million over five years (£36 million committed by DFID; $125 million from USAID’s recently awarded Equitable Access to Education and Learning Project). A portion of these funds will enable girls who are not in school to access accelerated and alternative learning programs in conflict-affected areas—primarily in North and South Kivu and Katanga. This effort will benefit more than 755,000 girls aged 10-18 over the next five years. The partnership’s interventions include:
o Enrolling out of school girls and boys in accelerated learning programs so that they can complete a primary school education;
o Reducing barriers for adolescent students to access schools;
o Mobilizing parents and communities to support girls’ retention in schools;
o Improving the quality of teaching and learning materials;
o Developing solutions to enhance students’ reading skills; and
o Identifying solutions to improve school governance.
The United States and United Kingdom also commit to building an evidence base around adolescent girls education programming:
The University of Cambridge’s REAL Centre (The Research for Equitable Access and Learning Centre); Georgetown University’s Institute for Women, Peace and Security; USAID; DFID; and Camfed (Campaign for Female Education) will together explore and assess the development of joint initiatives to address the following issues, with a focus on marginalized girls and adolescents:
o Improving the quality of education, including reading skills and numeracy skills;
o Increasing access to education and enhancing learning for girls in conflict and crisis situations, including in refugee and internally displaced person settings;
Strengthening opportunities for adolescent girls to acquire useful and necessary skills to improve their livelihoods
The United States and United Kingdom will develop their collaboration through the Building Evidence in Education to establish a platform to share adolescent girls’ education data across organizations. This data will help continue to affirm that adolescent girls’ education is the critical variable to changing the lives of girls and their nations throughout the world.
USAID and DFID will continue to collaborate on girls’ education through the Girls’ Education Challenge, a DFID initiative, and new mechanisms, including the Education in Conflict and Crisis Network. This network will produce research and provide guidance and technical support. It will serve as a shared platform to promote the sharing of the technical expertise and knowledge about what works to increase equitable access to quality education for children and youth, especially adolescent girls, in crisis and conflict-affected environments.
DFID will commit approximately £10 million to undertake an expansive new study focused on adolescent girls’ education programming. The study will follow girls in select countries over 10 years to learn first-hand from their experiences, further demonstrating the power of education to transform the lives of adolescent girls.
The expanded partnership will invite other organizations to collaborate and share community-based solutions, broadening efforts to impact adolescent girls worldwide:
U.S. Peace Corps Volunteers (PCV) and Camfed/CAMA (Camfed’s Alumnae association) will launch a collaboration in support of girls’ education, CAMA is a network young women members across Africa who have completed school with support from Camfed and are experts on the issue of girls’ exclusion from school, having experienced it themselves. Under this effort, Camfed will work with Peace Corps Volunteers to address the needs of vulnerable girls at risk of not finishing school by sharing best practices. With thousands of CAMA alumnae and Peace Corps volunteers currently serving to support projects in education, agriculture and health sectors, there is a unique opportunity to collaborate to identify barriers to girls’ education and support community-led responses and solutions. The two organizations will also share knowledge and expertise around how to improve school environment for girls and mobilizing community members and parent groups in support of girls’ education, and will help build the capacity of volunteers to respond to the needs of vulnerable adolescent girls, removing obstacles to education.
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 .
I know that one of the important principles for me has been treating everyone fairly. So whether that’s women, people of different races, different religious faiths, or different sexual orientations. One of my core principles is that I will never engage in a politics in which I’m trying to divide people or make them less than me because they look different or have a different religion.
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, 2022
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.
2022 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 2022 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-2022 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
Empowering Women and Girls to Lead Healthy, Fulfilling Lives, Safe from Violence