The Obama Administration has made it clear that advancing the rights of women and girls is critical to the foreign policy of the United States. This is a matter of national security as much as it is an issue of morality or fairness. President Obama's National Security Strategy explicitly recognizes that “countries are more peaceful and prosperous when women are accorded full and equal rights and opportunity. When those rights and opportunities are denied, countries lag behind.”
That's why I'm so pleased about the Presidential Memorandum that President Obama signed yesterday, which institutionalizes an elevated focus on global women's issues at the State Department and USAID and ensures coordination on these issues across the federal government. And it is so important that incoming Secretary of State John Kerry has expressed his support for the continued elevation of these issues in our foreign policy.
As I have said many times, protecting and advancing the rights of women are critical to solving virtually every challenge we face as individual nations and as a community of nations. We have made great progress, but there is more to do. This is the unfinished business of the 21st Century, and it is essential that it remains central to our foreign policy for years to come.