Harris says women's empowerment vital to democracy

Harris says women's empowerment vital to democracy
© Greg Nash

Vice President Harris in remarks to a United Nations meeting on Tuesday described women’s empowerment as critical to democracy and emphasized the Biden administration’s commitment to upholding human rights and advancing gender equality.

“Eleanor Roosevelt, who shaped the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, once said, ‘Without equality, there can be no democracy.’ In other words, the status of women is the status of democracy,” Harris, who is the first female vice president in U.S. history, said in taped virtual remarks during the 65th session of the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women.
 
“For our part, the United States will work to improve both. We are committed to upholding the democratic values embedded in the Declaration. And we firmly believe that, when we work together globally, we can achieve the vision within it,” Harris continued.

Harris spoke of progress in empowering women and advancing women’s rights, noting women’s participation in the last presidential election and the record number of women serving in Congress. Still, she warned that the country could not become complacent, particularly in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.  

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“When women face obstacles to obtaining quality health care, when women face food insecurity, when women are more likely to live in poverty, and therefore disproportionately impacted by climate change, more vulnerable to gender-based violence, and therefore disproportionately impacted by conflict, well, it’s harder for women to fully participate in decision-making,” Harris said. “Which of course in turn makes it that much harder for democracies to thrive.”

Harris pre-taped the remarks, which aired at the meeting Tuesday afternoon as she was on the road promoting the newly signed $1.9 trillion coronavirus rescue package.

Harris has previously described the rate at which women have left the workforce during the pandemic as a national emergency.

Her remarks came a week after President BidenJoe BidenBiden says he didn't 'overpromise' Finland PM pledges 'extremely tough' sanctions should Russia invade Ukraine Russia: Nothing less than NATO expansion ban is acceptable MORE formally convened a gender policy council at the White House to advance gender equality in the U.S. and around the globe, as part of the administration’s effort to mark International Women’s Day.

Harris also noted in her remarks that Biden recently named two female generals to lead combatant commands.