Last Tuesday, nearly 50 different business executives signed an open letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in which they urged him to place more focus on empowering women and girls everywhere. Women make up almost half of the world’s population yet many of their voices go unheard. These business leaders simply wish to see a greater importance placed on making women’s empowerment a priority.
The letter starts off by saying, “As private sector leaders and supporters of inclusive economic growth, we are grateful for your efforts to promote global prosperity. We also appreciate your leadership as CEO of ExxonMobil focusing on the economic empowerment of women and girls globally. We write you today to affirm the importance of making the empowerment of women and girls around the world a central tenet of U.S. foreign policy and development assistance.”
They also add, “During this time as the Department of State considers ways to maximize efficiency and effectiveness in U.S. investments, we encourage you to continue a global focus on empowering women and girls. This will not only expand economic opportunities and develop critical job skills for women and girls,but it will also help to build markets for U.S. goods and services. In short, investments in women and girls bring high returns for economic growth, societal well-being, and global stability.”
The open letter not only asks for the nomination and confirmation of the Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues, but it also gives three main reasons why “investing in women and girls is essential to our long-term success.” These reasons include more opportunities for U.S. businesses, bolstering U.S. National security and global stability, and demonstrating U.S. leadership and values.
The Ambassador-at-Large for the Office of Global Women’s Issues is an office that was established by President Obama in 2009 in order to “promote the rights and empowerment of women and girls through U.S. foreign policy.”
Several CEO’s signed the letter. These included: Julie Sweet, CEO of Accenture, Steve Shiffman, CEO of Calvin Klein, John Idol, CEO and Chairman of Michael Kors, Daniel Grieder, CEO of Tommy Hilfiger, Mary Dillion, CEO of Ulta Beauty, Wende Zomnir, CCO and Co-Founder of Urban Decay, and Brad Irwin, President and CEO of Welch’s. Additionally, charities like Equality Now, OXFAM, PLAN International USA, Save the Children USA, and Women for Women International all support the letter and its contents.
The letter concludes by stating that they hope Secretary Tillerson will work on selecting a qualified candidate for the Ambassador-at-Large position for the Office of Global Women’s Issues who can focus on empowering women and girls globally because doing so will help us “harness untapped potential.” They say, “To help ensure that this work is integrated across our diplomatic and development efforts, we strongly urge you to quickly select qualified and experienced candidates for key leadership positions that focus on empowering women and girls globally. The swift nomination (and confirmation) of the Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues at the U.S. Department of State and the ongoing support for the USAID leadership focused on the empowerment of women and girls will help harness untapped potential as the U.S. seeks to achieve its foreign policy goals.”
Hopefully, Secretary Tillerson will take note of the letter and get to work on their request. There is a lot of untapped potential in this world that we need to harness, and women and girls everywhere are filled with amazing ideas to contribute to the world.
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