Washington — The United States is joining with 12 international partners to launch a new effort aimed at expanding women's political and economic participation around the world.
The Equal Futures Partnership "builds on much of the work that has gone on over the last several years to grow women's participation in all sectors, recognizing that no country can get ahead if it leaves half of its people behind," said Melanne Verveer, the State Department's ambassador-at-large for global women's issues.
She spoke in New York September 24 to preview the launch, scheduled to take place later that day.
"There is a mountain of data, research, evidence of all kinds that shows what women's economic participation does both in the workplace and as entrepreneurs in growing economies and creating jobs," Verveer said. "We also know what a difference political participation makes in bringing perspectives and experiences to public policy that can have tremendously positive outcomes."
She said the World Economic Forum's annual Gender Gap Report, which examines the gap between men and women in a given country based on education, health, economic participation and political participation, shows that countries with smaller gender disparities are far more prosperous and economically competitive than those with larger disparities.
Verveer commended recent progress to close the gap in education and health accessibility, but said economic and political participation still have a way to go.
The new partnership, she said, aims to make an "ongoing difference" in women's participation in these areas in countries around the world.
The Equal Futures Partnership responds to a challenge President Obama issued to his fellow leaders during the 2011 United Nations General Assembly to address key barriers to women's empowerment around the world.
The partnership brings together the United States with 12 other founding partners: Australia, Benin, Bangladesh, Denmark, Finland, Indonesia, Jordan, the Netherlands, Peru, Senegal, Tunisia and the European Union.
Latvia, Italy, Thailand and Belgium have expressed their desire to participate in the next phase of the partnership's efforts, which will be announced in April at the World Bank meetings in Washington.
Private corporations have also joined in making international commitments, including Intel, Discovery Communications, Mary Kay and Goldman Sachs. Additionally, the World Bank and United Nations Women have committed to partner in the effort, agreeing to house best practices and support the implementation of countries' pledges.
The partnership's launch is scheduled to take place on the sidelines of the 2012 U.N. General Assembly in New York.