Gender equality strengthens democracy, says Kamala Harris
PARIS (Reuters) – Women deprived of their freedom to speak or vote must stand up for their rights and know the United States is on their side, US Vice President Kamala Harris said on Wednesday.
Harris told the Generation Equality Forum at a summit hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron that gender equality is key to strengthening democracy.
“Use the tools of democracy, be it freedom of speech or freedom to vote. And if you don’t have those freedoms yet, fight for them and know that we will fight by your side, ”Harris said at the summit via video link.
Democracy was in jeopardy in countries around the world, Harris said.
“If we want to strengthen democracy, we must fight for gender equality. Because here is the truth: democracy is stronger when everyone participates and it is weaker when people are left behind, ”said the vice president.
Two months after taking office, Harris said President Joe Biden’s administration would revitalize Washington’s partnership with UN Women – a United Nations agency dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women.
Under former President Donald Trump, the United States led a campaign at the United Nations against the promotion of women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights because they saw it as a code for abortion.
Harris adopted a different tone.
“When women have access to reproductive health care to stay healthy, they can participate more fully and our democracy is strengthened,” she said.
Melinda Gates said the Gates Foundation will allocate $ 2.1 billion in new money to strengthen gender equality. More than half would go to sexual health and reproductive rights, while $ 100 million would be spent to help women take positions of power in government and in the workplace.
“Women shouldn’t just have a seat at the table, they should be in every room where policies and decisions are made,” Gates said.
Reporting by Elizabeth Pineau; Written by Richard Lough; Editing by Giles Elgood