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New England Senators sponsor resolution celebrating international achievements of women, U.S. commitment to equality

(WASHINGTON, D.C.)U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Susan Collins (R-ME) today hailed the final passage of a Senate resolution commemorating the 102nd International Women’s Day, which celebrates the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future while also recognizing the obstacles women continue to face in the struggle for equal rights and opportunities.  International Women’s Day takes place annually on March 8.

“I am proud that the Senate came together to recognize the importance of International Women’s Day and demonstrated that we are dedicated to empowering women worldwide,” Shaheen said.  “International Women’s Day is an important day of recognition and this resolution appropriately reaffirms our commitment to equality, human rights, and advancing the well-being of women worldwide.”

“One of my role models in public service, former Maine Senator Margaret Chase Smith, was once asked the question of what is a woman's proper place? Her famous reply was, ‘Everywhere,'” Collins said.  “International Women's Day celebrates the countless important social, economic, cultural, and political contributions that women are making everywhere—directing their own destinies, advancing democracy and participating in the global economy. We must continue to work toward a world that empowers women to be the leaders of tomorrow, and this resolution reaffirms that commitment.”

With the passage of S.Res.74 last night, the U.S. Senate reaffirmed its commitment to pursuing policies that guarantee the basic human rights of women and girls worldwide and ending the discrimination and violence against women and girls. The resolution also recognizes the advancement of women as a foreign policy priority for the United States and that the ability of women to realize their full potential is critical to a nation’s ability to achieve strong and lasting economic growth as well as political and social stability.

Senators Boxer (D-CA), Begich (D-AL), Cardin (D-MD), Casey (D-PA), Durbin (D-IL), Feinstein (D-CA), Klobuchar (D-MN), Landrieu(D-AL), Lautenberg(D-NJ), Mikulski(D-MD), Murkowski (R-AL),  Murray (D-PA), Schatz (D-HI) and Whitehouse (D-RI) were also original cosponsors of the resolution.

The full text of the resolution follows:

Title: Supporting the goals of International Women's Day.

Whereas there are more than 3,300,000,000 women in the world today;

Whereas women around the world participate in the political, social, and economic life of their communities, play a critical role in providing and caring for their families, contribute substantially to the growth of economies, and, as both farmers and caregivers, play an important role in advancing food security for their communities;

Whereas the advancement of women around the world is a foreign policy priority for the United States;

Whereas, on January 30, 2013, President Barack Obama signed a presidential memorandum recognizing the need for “dedicated professionals with . . . expertise and stature” to sustain advances in the status of women and girls worldwide and directing the Secretary of State to ensure that an Ambassador-at-Large continues to lead the Office of Global Women’s Issues;

Whereas, on December 19, 2011, the Obama Administration launched the first-ever United States National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security that included a comprehensive set of national commitments to advance the active participation of women in decision making relating to matters of war and peace;

Whereas President Obama said, “[o]ur common prosperity will be advanced by allowing all humanity—men and women—to reach their full potential”;

Whereas, on August 10, 2012, President Obama announced the first interagency Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Gender-based Violence Globally;

Whereas the ability of women to realize their full potential is critical to the ability of a country to achieve strong and lasting economic growth and political and social stability;

Whereas, according to the International Monetary Fund, “focusing on the needs and empowerment of women is one of the keys to human development”;

Whereas, according to the 2012 World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Report, “reducing gender inequality enhances productivity and economic growth”;

Whereas, according to the World Bank 2012 World Development Report: Gender Equality and Development, “greater gender equality is also smart economics, enhancing productivity and improving other development outcomes, including prospects for the next generation and for the quality of societal policies and institutions”;

Whereas, although strides have been made in recent decades, women around the world continue to face significant obstacles in all aspects of their lives, including underrepresentation in all aspects of public life, denial of basic human rights, and discrimination;

Whereas, despite some achievements by individual women leaders, women around the world are still vastly underrepresented in high level positions and in national and local legislatures and governments and, according to the Inter-Parliamentary Union, women account for only 20.3 percent of national parliamentarians;

Whereas women remain underrepresented in conflict prevention and conflict resolution efforts, despite proven successes by women in conflict-affected regions in moderating violent extremism, resolving disputes through non-violent mediation and negotiation, and stabilizing their societies by improving access to peace and security services, institutions, and decision-making venues;

Whereas, according to the United Nations, 1 in 3 women around the world has experienced some form of gender-based violence and 1 in 4 women has been abused during pregnancy;

Whereas, according to the World Health Organization, as many as 1 in 5 women report being sexually abused before the age of 15;

Whereas, according to UNESCO, women account for 64 percent of the 796,000,000 adults worldwide who lack basic literacy skills;

Whereas, according to the United Nations Population Fund, 1 in 9 girls in developing countries (excluding the People’s Republic of China) will be married before the age of 15;

Whereas, according to Save the Children, pregnancy-related complications are a leading cause of death among girls between the ages of 15 and 19 in developing countries;

Whereas, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization, the majority of women living in rural areas of the developing world are heavily engaged in agricultural labor, yet they receive less credit, land, agricultural inputs, and training than their male counterparts;

Whereas it is imperative to alleviate violence and discrimination against women and afford them every opportunity to be full and productive members of their communities; and

Whereas March 8 is recognized each year as International Women’s Day, a global day to celebrate the economic, political, and social achievements of women past, present, and future, and a day to recognize the obstacles that women still face in the struggle for equal rights and opportunities: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the Senate—

1)      supports the goals of International Women’s Day;

2)      recognizes that the empowerment of women is inextricably linked to the potential of countries to generate economic growth, sustainable democracy, and inclusive security;

3)      recognizes and honors the women in the United States and around the world who have worked throughout history to ensure that women are guaranteed equality and basic human rights;

4)      reaffirms its commitment to ending discrimination and violence against women and girls, to ensuring the safety and welfare of women and girls, and to pursuing policies that guarantee the basic human rights of women and girls worldwide; and

5)      encourages the people of the United States to observe International Women’s Day with appropriate programs and activities.