ICRW at the United State of Women

Media Contact

Anne McPherson

Vice President, Global Communications email [email protected]

ICRW’s Senior Policy Manager Lyric Thompson attended the United State of Women, a Summit organized by the White House to take stock of progress achieved for women and girls around the world since President Obama took office. The following, is an interview with Lyric about the Summit, why it matters and what’s next for the U.S. policy and women and girls.

What was the United State of Women Summit? Why are summits like these important for gender and international development?

The United State of Women was a White House Summit hosted by the Obamas to reflect on progress, celebrate success and also to examine what still must be done for women’s rights as the Obama Administration draws to a close. Although the Summit was initially designed to focus largely on domestic issues, ICRW and its partners made a strong push for the efforts this administration has put forward to elevate a gender lens in U.S. foreign policy and assistance as well as the domestic, signature initiatives, such as health care reform and efforts around equal pay. We were pleased to see some highlighted global progress during the Summit’s main events by State Department Deputy Secretary Heather Higginbottom and of course First Lady Michelle Obama herself, who has recently adopted a platform on global girls’ education called Let Girls Learn. She indicated at the Summit that this would be an area of continued commitment for her after she leaves office. There was also an official State Department/USAID/MCC/Peace Corps side event that focused on recent advances for foreign policy and assistance with regard to girls’ health, rights and empowerment. The President also referenced global efforts to end violence against women.

What role did ICRW play in the Summit?

ICRW was one of the key stakeholder organizations involved in the planning of the Summit, and was also featured during the global program on day two. Specifically, we provided an analysis of the U.S. Global Strategy to Empower Adolescent Girls, a policy we have long been advocating for through our leadership of the Girls Not Brides USA coalition, and which were closely involved in shaping on the basis of our evidence on as child marriage, early pregnancy and girls’ education.

Were there any major commitments or announcements made that could improve the lives of women and girls?

The Girl Strategy was printed just in time to be released at the Summit, and important updated versions of U.S. policies on gender-based violence and women, peace and security were also released that day. Additionally, Ambassador Russell, who serves as the Ambassador-At-Large for Global Women’s issues, invited ICRW to assemble a civil society dialogue with relevant government agencies to discuss how to protect and institutionalize signature policies through the presidential transition this fall and into next year.

What do you hope to see happen from here?

The Obama Administration has been instrumental in elevating and expanding the focus on gender—including for LGBTI individuals—in U.S. foreign policy and assistance. I’m hopeful to see the Obamas continue to build on that legacy as they leave office, and that the next President—whoever it is—will recognize the value of and choose to continue these efforts, rather than throwing them out in an effort to do something new and different. There’s always new ground to be broken in advancing the rights and empowerment of girls and women, but we shouldn’t throw the proverbial baby out with the bathwater.