International Women’s Day

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry

John Kerry
Secretary of State
Washington, DC

On International Women’s Day, we celebrate the world’s women—past, present, and future—and recognize their many contributions and reflect on what more needs to be done to empower over half of the world’s population.

We remember the extraordinary achievements of women throughout history, and we applaud the women of today who lead, inspire, and work to improve their communities, seek solutions to conflict, cure disease, and build peaceful and prosperous societies. We pledge to young girls that equal opportunities for success will not be limited by gender.

My daughters and granddaughters constantly show me that gender does not define potential. And as Secretary of State, I’ve seen first-hand how gender bias and discrimination only hold countries back. The United States remains committed to empowering women and girls and achieving gender equality globally. We do this because no economy will fully prosper if half its population is excluded from participating. No government will meet the needs of its people if it does not fully represent everyone. And no great challenge facing the world today will be solved if we do not harness the full potential of the talent in society.

Since 2007, the State Department has honored extraordinary leaders from around the world with our annual International Women of Courage Award. Through this award, we have recognized women who have contributed to global peace, prosperity, and progress—often in the face of incredible adversity. I look forward to celebrating this year’s awardees on March 29.

From human rights to human security, women have made our world a better place. As we honor their courage this month, we renew our commitment to women and girls around the world, to landmark international frameworks like the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, and to the centrality of gender equality in the Sustainable Development Goals.

Last December, I visited an organization in Athens called the Melissa Network, where volunteers help migrant and refugee women integrate into Greek society or assist them in moving to another country. I spent some time with these volunteers—all of whom were women—preparing supplies for refugee and migrant women. They are at the front lines of the European migration and refugee crisis, helping other women find a better place and a better future. That’s something all of us can do, should, and must do, and there’s no better day than International Women’s Day to recommit ourselves to this cause.