Secretary of State John Kerry launches the U.S. Global Strategy to Empower Adolescent Girls, at the Department of State on March 15, 2016.
We are here, all of us, every single one of us, because we believe fundamentally a core value of the Obama Administration – of the American people, I believe – that equitable treatment of women and girls is and always must be a core tenet of America’s global leadership. We’re here because we recognize that gender bias and discrimination are not simply affronts to the individual dignity of women or a woman, but they are threats, ultimately, to the peace and the security of an entire community or country.
We’re here because international norms explicitly condemn early and forced marriage, genital cutting, sexual violence, the denial of access to education. Some say that these practices are traditional and cannot be helped. We say, quite simply, that they are wrong and they must be stopped.
Now, one of the things that I’m proudest of as I’ve traveled around to various countries over the course of the last three-plus years – Afghanistan is an extraordinary story with respect to young women. When we went there in 2001, there were about 1 million kids in school and almost every single one of them was a boy. Today, there are 7 million-plus children in school and nearly half – not yet half – but nearly half are women, young girls. That’s an extraordinary story and it is one that we obviously want to hold on to, we don’t want to see reversed days and months ahead.