WASHINGTON – United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai today delivered remarks at President Biden’s Summit for Democracy. Ambassador Tai discussed the need to empower women and girls at home and abroad – and why this is important to the health of democracies worldwide. She also announced several initiatives that the Biden-Harris Administration is launching to increase women’s political participation and leadership, as well as promote safe digital spaces to combat online abuse and harassment.
Ambassador Tai’s remarks as prepared for delivery are below.
Thank you, Ambassador Verveer. And let me congratulate Prime Minister Andersson on her historic appointment. As we discuss the importance of gender equality in all aspects of society, your new role shows women and girls that no dream is out of reach.
I am honored to represent the Biden-Harris Administration as we begin what I know will be a productive and insightful Summit.
While the United States is making progress in the fight for gender equality, there is still so much work we must do to empower women and girls both here at home and around the world.
This is a personal issue for me.
When I was little, my mother worked at the National Institutes of Health and my father was a researcher at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. NIH had a pre-school program for the children of agency employees.
One day, as we were playing, I put on a lab coat and announced: “Today I’m going to be a doctor.”
A little boy laughed and said, “You can’t be a doctor. Only boys can be doctors.”
What he said has stuck with me over the years. It represents the challenge that so many girls continue to face.
They are told what careers they can and cannot pursue.
They are told that they cannot run for office, even as male legislators make laws that impact their health and future.
To be told that at such a young age can fundamentally alter their career path and reinforce outdated stereotypes.
Research shows that countries with greater gender inequality are more likely to face higher levels of poverty, violence, and authoritarianism.
Conversely, countries that promote inclusivity and gender equity are more peaceful, more stable, and enjoy higher economic growth.
Empowering women and girls is not just a moral imperative, but it helps us achieve greater global prosperity and security.
The United States believes that we must lead by example. Last year, we elected our first female Vice President. With Nancy Pelosi as the United States’ first female Speaker of the House, two of the three highest offices in our government are filled by women.
And I am proud to serve in the most diverse and gender-balanced Cabinet in American history.
President Biden and Vice President Harris recognize that when women have a seat at the table, the results of our actions are more equitable and inclusive.
In October, our Administration issued the first-ever National Strategy on Gender Equity and Equality. This whole-of-government effort will develop concrete plans to promote gender equity and equality throughout all federal agencies through domestic and foreign policy.
And today, as we continue to defend against authoritarianism, promote human rights, and fight corruption, the Biden-Harris Administration is proud to announce two key partnerships.
First, we are excited to launch the Advancing Women’s and Girls’ Civic and Political Leadership Initiative.
This initiative will adopt a holistic approach to women’s political participation and leadership. It will build a pipeline of civic-minded and politically interested women and girls, while helping them exercise their rights and achieve greater representation.
The United States will begin by committing up to $33.5 million to this initiative, pending availability of appropriations. We will link this foreign assistance to our diplomatic efforts, encouraging and supporting partner countries to prioritize the political empowerment of women and girls as part of their democratic reforms.
Second, in partnership with Denmark’s Tech For Democracy Initiative, the United States will lead the Global Partnership for Action on Gender-Based Online Harassment and Abuse. Through this Partnership, we will build a global coalition dedicated to improving the response to technology-facilitated gender-based violence, and promoting effective prevention strategies. This Partnership will complement the Task Force on Online Harassment and Abuse that we have pledged to establish in our National Gender Strategy.
We will also address gender-based online harassment through the forthcoming U.S. National Action Plan to End Gender-Based Violence. This will include an update to the U.S. Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Gender-Based Violence Globally. And we will continue to build upon the work already underway to implement the U.S. Strategy on Women, Peace, and Security.
Finally, I want to share what my office is doing to advance these important goals.
At the Office of the United States Trade Representative, we are developing policies that deliver inclusive economic growth and prosperity to all of our communities – including woman-owned businesses and emerging female entrepreneurs.
Inclusivity has been central to our approach to implementing our trade agreements. In July, I participated in a roundtable with entrepreneurs and female business leaders as we celebrated the first anniversary of the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement in Mexico City.
Last month, I visited the Boeing Korea Engineering and Technology Center facility and met with women engineers who make up 40 percent of the workforce.
By lifting up more female entrepreneurs and workers, we can make significant progress towards our collective goal of true gender equality.
But we recognize that none of this work can exist in isolation.
The United States encourages our allies to launch their own initiatives and democratic reforms to advance gender equity and equality domestically and globally — from preventing gender-based violence to promoting inclusive economic growth and opportunity.
Global action is how we create durable and lasting change that improves the lives of our people and strengthens our democratic institutions.
This Summit represents an acceleration of that work – and I am excited to see what we accomplish together.
I will now turn things over to Ambassador Verveer to introduce the next panel.