Washington, DC – Today, the Co-Chairs of the Democratic Women's Caucus, Congresswoman Jackie Speier (CA-14), Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence (MI-14), and Congresswomen Lois Frankel (FL-21), were joined by Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13), Chair of the Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs and Co-Chair of the Pro-Choice Caucus, in introducing a House Resolution calling for a feminist U.S. foreign policy in the face of ongoing threats to the status of women and girls worldwide. Thirty-seven Members cosponsored the resolution, which was introduced on International Women’s Day.
In the resolution, the Members note that women’s rights are human rights and that America’s foreign policy must be representative, inclusive, responsive, and accountable. The resolution voices support for policies that promote gender equity including women’s access to education, health care, representation in public office, economic security and opportunity, access to rights and resources, participation in peacekeeping, military, and diplomatic missions, and freedom from gender-based violence.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating and disproportional impact on women and girls around the globe, undermining their access to education, economic opportunity, and freedom from violence, ” Rep. Speier said. “We know that our world is more peaceful and prosperous when women have the tools to succeed and are recognized as equal members of society. We also know that U.S. foreign policy reflects our government’s priorities at home and abroad. Our foreign policy must address the cataclysmic impact of COVID-19 on women and girls everywhere and America must commit to priorities that dismantle discriminatory power structures and advance peace and security, gender equity, racial justice, and human rights.”
“When girls and women are educated, healthy, and safe, their families and their communities are more secure and more prosperous. That’s good for America, and it’s good for the world. This feminist foreign policy is how we help make it a reality,” Rep. Frankel said.
“Around the world, women and girls face obstacles in accessing education, healthcare, economic security, and opportunity. This pandemic has only worsened the gender inequities that many countries, including the United States, are experiencing,” Rep. Lawrence said. “As the Biden-Harris Administration works to rebuild our global relationships, our U.S. foreign policy must include rooting out these inequities and promoting the health, well-being, and economic success of women and girls. I’m proud to introduce this House Resolution with my DWC Co-Chairs and Rep. Barbara Lee, and I look forward to the United States continuing to support women and girls worldwide.”
“Our foreign policy must be consistent with our values. This feminist foreign policy framework would transform US foreign policy to put human rights at the center of our global approach. As we face a global pandemic that has hit women the hardest, especially women of color, we must prioritize advancing policies that promote gender equity worldwide,” Rep. Lee said. “This legislation calls for us to send a message to the world that the rights of all people, including women and girls must be prioritized, to offer everyone access to health, success, and prosperity.”
Women and girls around the world continue to face considerable disparities relative to men and boys in their access to rights, resources, agency, and bodily autonomy. As of 2020, women globally had just three-fourths the number of legal rights that men had on average, and 35 percent of women globally have experienced gender-based violence. Women are also significantly underrepresented in policymaking and security sector roles. Despite evidence showing that women’s inclusion in peace processes makes the resulting agreement 35% more likely to last at least 15 years or longer, women made up only 13% of major peace agreement negotiators between 1992 and 2018.
The feminist foreign policy resolution is endorsed by the International Center for Research on Women, Coalition for a Feminist Foreign Policy in the United States, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, NARAL Pro-Choice America, Guttmacher Institute, Oxfam, PAI, Plan International USA, Promundo, Alliance for Peacebuilding, The Clearinghouse on Women’s Issues, Women’s Action for New Directions, Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE), Centre for Feminist Foreign Policy, Centro de Los Derechos del Migrante, Population Institute, and Women for Afghan Women.
Quotes from supporting organizations are below:
“To build a more equitable future for all people, the U.S. must proudly and boldly embrace a feminist foreign policy. We commend Reps. Speier (D-CA-14), Lawrence (D-MI-14), Frankel (D-FL-21), and Lee (D-CA-13) for introducing this resolution and emphasizing the crucial importance of sexual and reproductive health and rights. We have so much work ahead to finally ensure that people’s health, rights, and ambitions are valued and protected equally, regardless of their gender. We look forward to working alongside these proud feminist champions to move this vision forward,” said Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO, Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
“The Coalition for a Feminist Foreign Policy in the United States is grateful for the leadership of these incredible Congresswomen, and proud to partner with them in this effort to make U.S. foreign policy feminist,” said Lyric Thompson, the Senior Director for Policy and Advocacy at the International Center for Research on Women and the lead author of a white paper endorsed by the Coalition and more than 75 organizations outlining what a U.S. feminist foreign policy might look like. “We hope that the Biden-Harris Administration will take this resolution and the forward-thinking leadership of these Representatives to heart and join fellow allies and neighboring countries by committing to a feminist foreign policy,” she concluded.
“It is long past time that our national foreign policy priorities change to reflect the fundamentally new world that we are living in. For too long, we’ve militarized our approach to foreign policy problems, and this has left us ill-equipped to tackle today’s most urgent crises: the coronavirus pandemic, climate change, and the destruction of our democracy,” said Serra Sippel, President of the Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE). “We need a new way forward - one that prioritizes the health and human rights of people, the wellbeing of our planet, the goal of peace. Further, we need a way forward that ensures and protect sexual and reproductive health and rights for all — a key component in making our vision of a feminist foreign policy a reality."
“CARE is proud to support this resolution that brings national and global attention to a core message our organization stands firmly behind: centering gender equality in diplomacy, development assistance, and humanitarian response is not only critical to advancing the rights of women and girls, it is foundational to making our world more equitable and safe,” said Michelle Nunn, CARE USA President & CEO. “We are long past the time for confronting the inequalities that hold millions of women and girls back – now is the time to stand on principle and act. CARE thanks Congresswomen Speier, Frankel, Lee, Lawrence, and the other original co-sponsors for taking this bold message forward.”
A copy of the resolution can be found here.
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