It is no secret that the world has yet to achieve the simple yet profound goal of ensuring equal futures for our daughters and our sons. Today, less than five percent of the world’s heads of state are women, and women make up just nineteen percent of representatives in parliaments worldwide. Despite producing more than forty percent of the world’s food, women own less than one percent of the world’s farmland.
Recognizing these disparities, one year ago in a speech before the UN General Assembly, President Obama challenged heads of state to break down political and economic barriers to women’s equality. Last week, Secretary Clinton launched a groundbreaking response to the President’s challenge: the Equal Futures Partnership. The United States was joined by twelve other founding members (Australia, Bangladesh, Benin, Denmark, Finland, Indonesia, Jordan, the Netherlands, Peru, Senegal and Tunisia, along with the EU) each of whom made national commitments to policy, legal, and regulatory reforms that would promote two mutually reinforcing goals: expanded economic opportunity for women; and, increased political and civic participation by women at local, state and national levels. Around 250 guests — including Senator Patrick Leahy, President Jahjaga of Kosovo, Prime Minister Simpson-Miller of Jamaica, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia, academic leaders, CEOs of major companies, and representatives from civil society organizations — attended the standing-room only event.