This year, in considering the status of women – especially as it pertains to the participation of women in decision making – we must also consider the status of democracy. At its best, democracy protects human rights; promotes human dignity; and upholds the rule of law. It is a means to establish peace and shared prosperity. It should ensure every citizen, regardless of gender, has an equal voice; and free and fair elections that will respect the will of the people. At the same time, democracy requires constant vigilance, constant improvement – it is a work in progress. And today we know that democracy is increasingly under great strain. For 15 consecutive years, we have seen a troubling decline in freedom around the globe. In fact, experts believe that this past year was the worst, on record, for the global deterioration of democracy and freedom.
The status of democracy also depends, fundamentally, on the empowerment of women. Not only because the exclusion of women in decision-making is a marker of a flawed democracy, but because the participation of women strengthens democracy. COVID-19 has threated the economic security; the physical security; and the health of women everywhere. As women struggle to get the healthcare they need, the pandemic appears to be reversing the global gains we’ve made in the fight against HIV, AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, malnutrition, and maternal and child mortality. That’s why, on the first day of our administration, the United States reengaged as a member-state and leader in the World Health Organization; and we are revitalizing our partnership with UN Women, to help empower women worldwide.
Eleanor Roosevelt who shaped the universal declaration on human rights once said, “Without equality there can be no democracy.” In other words, the status of women, is the status of democracy. For our part, the United States will work to improve both.
Harris, K. [Guardian News]. (2021, March 16) Kamala Harris addresses the UN: 'The status of women is the status of democracy' [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rUzaQ2cBFh0] Retrieved on March 9, 2022 from https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCIRYBXDze5krPDzAEOxFGVA.