Harris touts US efforts on gender equality at UN forum
Vice President Harris on Wednesday emphasized the importance of supporting and investing in women in addressing the United Nation’s Generation Equality Forum as the Biden administration announced new initiatives aimed at preventing gender-based violence and protecting women’s rights.
“Around the world, democracy is in peril. Strongmen have become stronger, human rights abuses have multiplied, undermining progress, and misinformation is undermining public confidence,” Harris said in remarks delivered virtually to the forum.
“And who gets hurt when democracies fall, when democracies falter? Who gets hurt when democracies fail to live up to their promise? Well, women and girls are among those who suffer,” she said.
The White House rolled out a series of initiatives and programs coinciding with Harris’s remarks to underscore its commitment to gender equality. The announcements focused on efforts to prevent violence against women, strengthen women’s economic opportunities and protect reproductive rights.
“I know what happens when women are supported,” Harris said. “I know what happens when women are heard. When women are heard — whether that is in the courtroom, in the workplace, in the halls of government, or at the ballot box — democracy is more complete.”
The administration pledged to create a U.S. National Action Plan on Gender-Based Violence with the goal of launching it in 2022.
It also highlighted $450 million in funding through the American Rescue Plan, signed into law earlier this year, to be used for domestic violence services and sexual assault services programs. The White House also called for the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, which passed the House but has yet to receive a vote in the Senate.
The administration also rolled out economic-focused efforts, highlighting American Rescue Plan funding for families, such as the expanded child tax credit, as well as proposals in the American Jobs Plan and American Families Plan that would invest in home-based and community-based care, schools and child care. Those two plans have yet to pass Congress, and parts of the proposals may be left out as they work their way through the tightly divided Senate and House.
The administration also said it would dedicate $33 million in funding to advance gender equity in the Northern Triangle with a focus on economic opportunities for women. Harris has been focused on addressing root causes of migration in the region, with lack of economic opportunity a main concern.
The White House also cited efforts to strengthen reproductive rights through Medicaid, and it promised to direct funding for family planning services that primarily service low-income patients. The administration also cited President Biden’s exclusion of the Hyde Amendment in his budget proposal. The provision, which has been included in past budgets for decades, bars the use of federal funding for most abortions.
Anuli Ononye contributed.
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