Protocol already established, I wish you a very warm welcome, and good afternoon. It is a pleasure to be here among so many persons of influence in support of a key goal of the U.S. Embassy and the U.S. Department of State. That goal is realizing the full participation of women and girls in the political, economic, and social lives of our countries.
The Obama Administration has made advancing the status of women and girls a central element of U.S. foreign policy. Not just because it’s the right thing to do. But because when women and girls are safe, able to exercise their universal rights, and empowered to participate fully in decision-making processes, societies benefit.
Research shows that progress in women’s employment, health, and education leads to greater economic growth and stronger societies. Integrating women’s perspectives into security efforts helps to prevent conflict and can lead to more peaceful societies. When women and men are equally empowered as political and social actors, governments are more representative and more effective.
We recognize that focusing our attention on women and girls is a smart investment for both the United States and The Bahamas. I hope that over the course of this lunch and the meetings of this three-day conference, we each are empowered to consider innovative ways to promote the next generation of women leaders and advance the status of women.
Before I take my seat, I would like to thank you all for joining us today and for your commitment to promoting gender equality in order to foster economic growth, peace, and security.