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Resolve Awards Recognize Progress Toward Universal Access to Reproductive Health



Ambassador Pamela Hamamoto

Permanent Representative of the United States of America
to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva

Opening Remarks

 Good evening. I’d like to welcome you all to the U.S. Mission and thank you for attending this important event tonight.

I would also like to thank the Aspen Institute, and especially Peggy Clark, for organizing this event and for her leadership in international family planning and reproductive health.

It is an honor to be here to celebrate the progress Senegal, the Philippines, and Uruguay have made to improve access to reproductive health.

As we approach the launch of the Sustainable Development Goals, it is vital that we maintain robust commitment and action for reproductive health as the SDGs move forward.

Family planning is important because it saves lives, improves health, and empowers women.  A USAID analysis found that by preventing closely spaced births, family planning could prevent up to 30 percent of maternal deaths and 25 percent of child deaths each year.

As the countries we are honoring today have shown, investing in people is not only the right thing to do, it also makes for a more prosperous nation.   Increasing access to family planning and reproductive health is a gateway to achieving a host of sustainable development goals and plays a catalytic role in advancing economic development.

Family planning can reduce the economic burden on poor families and allow women more time to work outside the home, which leads to increased family income. And with more income, families can invest in health care, more nutritious food, and better education for each child.  Families can also invest in their own livelihoods, thereby breaking the cycle of poverty.

For nations, a larger workforce with fewer children to support translates into increased savings on health care and other social services, increased investments in each child, increased output and productivity.  This demographic dividend can raise GDP by as much as two percent per year for many years. Many countries have done so in the past.  African countries — if they act now to implement programs that support women’s and couples’ desire to plan and space their pregnancies, and to enact supportive education and labor policies with attention to equity — can set themselves on a similar course.

225 million women want to delay or avoid pregnancy but are not using modern methods of contraception.

No one sector can solve this problem alone.  This is why partnerships with the public and private sectors, donors and civil society are essential.

I’m particularly proud of a new initiative recently launched by the U.S. Mission called The Future She Deserves – because it is built around this recognized need to build partnerships and work collaboratively in order to really drive results. The fundamental goal of The Future She Deserves is to leverage this unique platform of Geneva-based institutional mechanisms and multilateral fora to protect and empower women and girls, thereby enhancing their ability to fulfill their promise, both as individuals and as equal members of society.

In the health context, it is difficult for young people to fulfill their promise due to the many obstacles they encounter to using available health services: lack of knowledge about sexuality and reproductive health, lack of access to services because of location, cost, hours of service, unfriendly and judgmental providers, communities that are not supportive of young people’s sexuality and use of services, and unequal gender norms.

The consequences of this are severe. 16 million girls aged 15-19 and 2 million girls under the age of 15 give birth each year. Girls aged 10-14 are five times more likely to die in pregnancy and childbirth than women aged 20-24, and young women aged 15-19 are twice as likely to die.  And children born to adolescent mothers are much less likely to make it to their fifth birthday.

One of The Future She Deserves’ key priorities is to ensure adolescent girls have access to the full range of appropriate health services, and it is for this reason that we are so excited to host this event tonight, as it directly supports our initiative, and our goal of recognizing innovations and scalable interventions that will significantly improve lives.



Adolescent Girls Health: Approaches to Ensuring the Future She Deserves

Ambassador Pamela Hamamoto remarks at the opening of the side event on Adolescent Girls’ Health: Approaches to Ensuring the Future She Deserves 

World Health Assembly 68
May 20, 2022

Dear esteemed colleagues and friends, welcome and thank you for coming to our side event on adolescent girls health.  The United States, along with Brazil, Chile, India, Kenya, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, The WHO secretariat, UNFPA and UNAIDS is excited to be having this important conversation during the World health Assembly.

Adolescent health, and in particular that of girls, is an issue that is close to my heart as one of my priorities is to consistently highlight the female dimension in the global challenges we face.  This was one of the key drivers behind the U.S. Mission’s new initiative – The Future She Deserves – which among other things, aims to engage the Geneva community around new ways to work together to ensure adolescent girls have access to the full range of appropriate health services. We must provide strategies that are developmentally appropriate for addressing the various stages of adolescent development (i.e., early, mid, and late).   We also need to encourage a multi-sectoral approach, and engagement with all stakeholders, in order to develop policies and programs that help create a supportive environment for adolescent health, safety, and well-being.

As the WHO has described it, adolescence is our second chance to get it right in the second decade of life. Adolescence is the time of life where patterns for health over the life course are set, so we need to be there, with the right approach, in the right places and at the right time.  We will hear from some of the adolescents working on the front lines today – a youth advocate from Australia working on mental health issues and from Mexico working on both preventing gender-based violence and assisting young victims of gender-based violence.

I am pleased to report that since many of us met in January during the WHO Executive Board and discussed the work being done by the secretariat developing a framework for accelerated action on adolescent health issues, much has happened. Discussion on the Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health has been underway, and we will hear some of the early results from our panel today.

During our panel discussion today, we will take a quick look back to better understand how far we have come — with Kate Gilmore, Deputy Executive Director at the United Nations Population Fund, and Marleen Temmerman, Director for Reproductive Health and Research at the World Health Organization.

We will then hear from some early innovators about the programs they have put in place in their own countries and regions to deliver appropriate health services to girls.  Matilde Maddaleno Herrera is here from Chile and is in the throes of operationalizing their integrated program for adolescent health; Mr. C.K. Mishra, from India, will discuss India’s multi-sectoral work helping adolescent girls develop an increased awareness of their own sexual and reproductive health issues, and ensuring access to services, preventing violence, and staying in school. And Dr. Lumena Furtado is here from Brazil to present Brazil’s ongoing work program approach in addressing the health needs of adolescent girls.

From the United States, Dawn O’Connell will discuss several innovative approaches we have taken to tackle an issue that had bedeviled us for decades:  teen pregnancy.  The Minister of Health from Tanzania, Mr. Seif Rashidi is with us today to present examples of scaling up quality adolescent-friendly health services and how to best support adolescents getting the sexual and reproductive health services they need, and importantly, ensuring this support is delivered in a friendly and non-judgmental manner.  The Minister of Health and Childcare, Dr. P.D. Parirenyatwa, is here from Zimbabwe to share some of the innovative funding mechanisms they have created to ensure the health needs of adolescents are met.  We will close this section with remarks from William Yeung, a youth advocate for mental health services in Australia, who is doing great work with people his own age in raising awareness more broadly.

Finally, we will discuss the way forward. Tim Shand from Promundo, is doing innovative work engaging men and boys as allies in women’s and children’s health issues.  As I mentioned earlier, Cecilia Garcia Ruiz, a youth leader from “Women We Deliver,” will discuss her work with “Espolea” in Mexico to prevent gender-based violence.  And Dr Luiz Loures, UNAIDS Deputy Executive Director, will tell us about UNAIDS’ “ALL IN” initiative to reduce new infections by at least 75% by 2020 and to reduce AIDS-related deaths among adolescents by 65%.

I look forward to hearing all about the innovative and collaborative work being done by these impressive panelists, and hope that through these discussions we can further identify critical gaps that still exist and what we can do collectively to provide better, more complete health services to adolescent girls around the world.

Adolescent Girls’ Health: Approaches to Ensuring the Future She Deserves

A Special Side Event at the 68th World Health Assembly

Co-sponsored by Brazil, Chile, India, Kenya, Tanzania, the United States of America, Zimbabwe in collaboration with the WHO’s focal point on adolescent health and development in the Department of Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health (WHO), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).

Wednesday May 20, 2022; Room VII, 12:15-13:45

The health issues faced by adolescents are central to every major current challenge in global health, HIV/AIDS, road traffic injuries, sexual and reproductive health, non-communicable diseases, interpersonal violence, and mental health.


A second chance in the second decade is how the World Health Organization described our window of opportunity to address the health needs of children during their adolescence. The conclusion that the important and specific needs of adolescents’ health had been too long neglected is echoed in many fora with reports and new research at; UNESCO, the world Bank, UNICEF and UNFPA, Lancet has established a commission to specifically address issues surrounding adolescent health and WHO regional offices are developing regional strategies. Our most recent WHO Executive Board called for accelerated action in developing the framework on Adolescent health. Attention to adolescents is highlighted in the update to Global Strategy on Women, Children and Adolescents Health and acknowledged in discussion on the post 2022 sustainable development goals at the UN General Assembly this fall.

Recent data shows that appropriate health care for adolescent girls is often not available. The lack of services has serious negative repercussions on adolescent girls realizing their rights and becoming healthy productive women and leaders. Boys are part of the solution and also need to have their specific health needs met and addressed.

Global health research shows and is continuing to show that healthy adolescent girls grow into women who are drivers of development, economic growth and stability for their families and communities.

WHO data shows that the leading causes of death among adolescents aged 10 to 19 years globally for girls and boys combined in 2012 were road traffic injuries, HIV/AIDS, self-harm; lower respiratory infections and interpersonal violence. As a global community we have had solid success in reducing maternal deaths and deaths from measles but numbers are showing that deaths due to HIV/AIDS are rising among adolescents. The WHO announced this year that AIDS has become the leading cause of death for adolescents in Africa and the second leading cause of death among adolescents globally. While new infections among adolescents are declining, there are twice as many new infections as AIDS deaths. In 2013, over 80 percent of new HIV infections among adolescents in the hardest hit countries occurred in girls. Globally 15 percent of women living with HIV/AIDS are aged 15 to 24, with 80 % living in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Further data show some regional and cause specific mortality data point to further areas of focus. One in every five deaths among adolescents in high-income countries is due to road traffic injuries. One in every six deaths among adolescent girls in the South-East Asia regions is due to suicide. Pregnancy and childbirth among adolescent girls has declined and this decline is particularly noticeable in the regions where maternal mortality rates are highest. The South East Asia, Eastern Mediterranean and African regions have seen declines of 57%, 50%, and 37%, respectively. Despite these improvements, maternal mortality ranks second among causes of death of 15–19-yearold girls globally, exceeded only by suicide. Behavioral and morbidity data allow assessment of the many non-fatal diseases and conditions that develop during adolescence, which not only have implications for service provision today but often have repercussions in adulthood, particularly in the area of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD’s) mainly cardiovascular diseases (like heart attacks and stroke), cancers, chronic respiratory diseases (such as chronic obstructed pulmonary disease and asthma), and diabetes. Focusing on the prevention of tobacco and alcohol use and the promotion of physical activity and healthy diet among adolescents is an essential component of the adolescent health agenda.


This side event aims at building momentum and stimulating dialogue amongst all of us and proposes to go beyond often polarizing politics to offer examples of interventions that are effectively addressing the specific health needs of adolescent girls.




Sports for the Future She Deserves

“Sports for The Future She Deserves”

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, 2022

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:

  1. To prevent and respond to gender based violence;
  2. To ensure adolescent girls’ have access to the full range of appropriate health services;
  3. To empower women and girls economically; and
  4. 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.

A Focus on Women’s Empowerment in Science and Technology at CSTD

The 18th session of the UN Commission on Science and Technology for Development (CSTD) is meeting in Geneva from 4 to 8 May, 2022 to review key science and technology trends and their role in the development process.  The U.S. Delegation to the Commission, jointly headed by Ambassador Daniel Sepulveda, U.S. Coordinator for International Communications and Information Policy, and Dr. Frances Colon, Acting Advisor on Science and Technology to the Secretary of State, is keeping a focus on empowering women in STEM fields and bridging the digital gender gap.

“Women and girls and underrepresented groups need access to quality science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education, technical and vocational training, and access to the networks and resources that allow full and effective participation in knowledge-based economies.” said Dr. Frances Colon in the US opening statement to the CTSD.

Girls in ICT Day – US Mission & YWCA Sponsor Participants

International Girls in ICT Day is an opportunity for girls and young women to see and experience ICTs in a new light encouraging them to consider a future in technology. To date, over 111,000 girls and young women have taken part in more than 3,500 events held in 140 countries around the world.

This year the U.S. Mission aimed to expand the reach of ITU’s annual Girls in ICT day in Geneva and partnered with the YWCA to bring five young women from South Africa, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, Myanmar and Chile. The Olympic museum in Lausanne kindly allowed the girls to explore many of the ways technology skills can be applied!

Learn more about Girls in ICT on ITU’s portal site.

US Strongly Supports ILO Focus on Gender-Based Violence

Statement of the United States Government

Agenda Item 2 on the Agenda of the International Labor Conference (2022-19)

March 26, 2022, Geneva, Switzerland

 The United States would like to voice its strong support for a standard-setting item on the issue of “Violence Against Women and Men in the World of Work.”

As the ILO has noted previously, gender based violence is “the most prevalent human rights violation in the world” and its existence is a “major challenge to the goal of equality between women and men.”

In the United States an estimated 2 million workers are victims of various forms of workplace violence each year.  The costs to businesses include the temporary or permanent absence of skilled employees, psychological damage to victims, productivity impediments, diversion of management resources, increased security costs, increased workers’ compensation costs, and increased personnel costs.

Women are often at increased risk and special attention must be given to those industries that are disproportionately female, such as the apparel industry, domestic work, health care and social services, and many of the lower paying jobs in the retail and hospitality sectors.  Additionally, there is insufficient attention given to how sexual violence pushes women out of their chosen fields, particularly in the sciences and technology.

The resources and expertise of this organization are uniquely suited to addressing the appalling abuses that millions of workers face everyday in the workplace.  We urge the Governing Body to place this item on the agenda of the International Labor Conference.

FACT SHEET: U.S. & Japan – Collaborating to Advance Girls Education Around The World

The White House

Office of the First Lady

FACT SHEET: U.S. & Japan – Collaborating to Advance Girls Education Around The World

About 62 million girls around the world – half of whom are adolescent – are not in school. These girls have diminished economic opportunities and are more vulnerable to HIV/AIDS, early and forced marriage, and other forms of violence.

Yet 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.  In addition, girls’ attendance in secondary school is correlated with later marriage, later childbearing, lower maternal and infant mortality rates, lower birth rates, and lower rates of HIV/AIDS. A World Bank study found that every year of secondary school education is correlated with an 18 percent increase in a girl’s future earning power.

Earlier this month, the United States, under the leadership of the President and First Lady, announced that it is expanding its efforts to help adolescent girls worldwide access school and complete their education through an initiative called Let Girls Learn.  This new effort will build on investments that the international community, including the United States, has made and successes that have been achieved in global primary school education, and expand them to help adolescent girls complete their education and fulfill their potential.

Japan is also a global leader in international education.  Through its “School for All” concept, Japan seeks to advance education through improving educational facilities, teaching practices, community participation, administration, and health and nutrition.   Japan understands that the international community shares this concept, and believes that a comprehensive approach by other donors including the United States, international organizations, NGOs, governments of developing countries and local communities is the key to ensuring the sustainability of girls’ education.

Today we are pleased to announce that the United States and Japan will partner in this critical area, elevating the issue of girls’ education on their shared development agenda.  Japan and the United States, through this initiative, will cooperate in improving the learning environment for girls by collaborating with schools, communities and educational administration.

As two of the largest economies in the world, our combined efforts can make a difference. The President’s FY 2016 Budget request includes $250 million in new and reallocated funds in support of the Let Girls Learn Initiative.   Japan will commit Official Development Assistance (ODA) in excess of 42 billion yen over three years starting from 2022 for girls’ empowerment and gender-sensitive education.

Under this partnership:

  1. Peace Corps and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), which directs Japan’s Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCV), will formalize cooperation through a Memorandum of Understanding between the two agencies.
    • This strategic partnership between Peace Corps and JOCV will be broad and encompass a variety of activities, and will focus in particular on advancing girls’ education through cooperation on the ground in countries around the world, including Cambodia.  JOCV will enhance cooperation with the Peace Corps to facilitate girls’ participation in the field of primary and secondary education, sports and physical education.
  2. With counterpart governments around the world, the United States and Japan will increase focus on girls’ education in our respective bilateral assistance programs.
    • Building on current funding and programs at USAID, the State Department, the Peace Corps, and across the US government, the United States will work to improve access to quality education and healthcare, help address violence and other barriers to education that adolescent girls face around the world.
    • Japan will prioritize girls’ education in its new international education cooperation policy starting from 2016.  In addition, in Southeast Asia, Japan will further provide assistance for constructing and expanding elementary, middle, and high school buildings, which is expected to benefit 20,000 adolescent girls with a good educational environment.
  3. The United States and Japan support girls’ education through strong commitments to international organizations and non-governmental organizations focused on these issues.
    • For example, the President’s FY 2016 Budget request includes an increase for the U.S. contribution to the Global Partnership for Education by 40% over current funding levels, to $70 million.  Japan will double its contribution this year to United Nations Women, to $20 million.

“Conflict and displacement make refugees and the displaced more vulnerable to abuse, including domestic violence, sexual exploitation, survival sex and forced marriage.”

UNHCR Spokesperson Melissa Fleming in Huffington Post

In an interview with Huffington Post, Melissa Fleming, Head of Communications and Chief Spokesperson for the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), discusses the plight of women in refugee camps; the work of UNHCR around the world; TEDxPlaceDesNations which she organized, and much more.


” UNHCR is deeply concerned about the safety and security of women and girl refugees. It is unacceptable that fear of sexual assault is a factor of refugee life. But unfortunately, sexual and gender based violence is one of the most widespread protection risks faced by forcibly displaced women and girls, and even for some men and boys. Conflict and displacement make refugees and the displaced more vulnerable to abuse, including domestic violence, sexual exploitation, survival sex and forced marriage.

UNHCR is grateful for funding from the United States for a three-year initiative called “Safe from the Start” to prevent and respond to sexual and gender-based violence in humanitarian emergencies around the world. This allows us to dedicate staff at the start of an emergency to ensure our camp design and our education and health care programs are aimed to prevent sexual violence.”

Read the full interview with Melissa Fleming on Huffington Post.