NEW YORK, NY – During her address to the Generation Equality Forum this morning, U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris emphasized U.S. support to address sexual and reproductive health and rights, economic justice, and gender-based violence (GBV). The Forum, being held in Paris this week, is expected to secure commitments from global leaders across an array of human rights and global development priorities. The Forum marks the 25th anniversary of the landmark Beijing Declaration on women’s rights.
Yesterday, the Women’s Refugee Commission called on Harris and world leaders to “support and implement the rights of displaced women, children, and youth in their commitments to advance gender equality around the world.”
Harris, who is leading the U.S. delegation, made a direct appeal to “listen to those who are not being heard, respect and embrace those whose experiences are different from your own, and recognize who is not in the room and invite them in...”
In response to Harris’ statement and a White House fact sheet outlining existing and upcoming U.S. commitments, Gayatri Patel, vice president of external relations at the Women’s Refugee Commission, issued the following statement:
“The United States has the platform and the responsibility to lead for change and meaningfully advance gender equality. This means making commitments that break down barriers for women and girls globally, including the millions of displaced women, girls, and youth caught in humanitarian crises who grapple with gender-based violence and limited opportunities for economic empowerment, education, and quality health care.
“The Women’s Refugee Commission is grateful for the U.S. government’s ongoing commitment to the Call to Action on Protection from Gender-Based Violence in Emergencies and the Safe from the Start initiative, which strengthens responses to GBV in humanitarian settings. As the Generation Equality Forum unfolds this week, we will be listening carefully for further commitments to uphold the rights of refugee women and girls and address their needs holistically, including pledges to advance their economic security and access to health services and education.
“Most importantly, we will be looking for meaningful action on the part of the U.S. and other partners to underscore women’s leadership, participation, and power in humanitarian response and support for locally-driven initiatives to elevate the voices of displaced women and girls in all forums where decisions are being made.
“To live up to VP Harris’ call to action for activists and others advocating for gender equality, the U.S. must step up its global commitments on par with the strides taken domestically on these critical issues, especially for displaced women and girls.
“Gender equality cannot be fully realized unless the most marginalized among us are included. Refugee women and girls, particularly those facing multiple intersecting forms of discrimination based on disability, age, or sexual orientation, are amongst those most often silenced and overlooked. Meaningful commitments to gender equality will ensure that they are not left out or left behind.”