Antony J. Blinken,
Secretary of State
March 8, 2021
Every year on March 8th, the United States joins the world in recognizing International Women’s Day by celebrating the leadership, strength, and courage of women and girls. The United States recognizes the reality that the equitable participation of women in social, political, and economic life is critical to the peace and prosperity of our collective community.
The COVID-19 pandemic presented an unexpected challenge to the safety and prosperity of women and girls in the last year. From an increased risk of domestic abuse during stay-at-home orders to increased economic and employment insecurity, women and girls have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. Despite this disparity, women have led on the frontlines of this pandemic including as unpaid caregivers, healthcare workers, teachers, and other essential personnel, and continued to advocate for the dignity and rights of all people, building lasting change that will benefit their communities for years to come.
I have the great pleasure of celebrating International Women’s Day this year by hosting the 15th annual International Woman of Courage (IWOC) Award ceremony. The recipients of this year’s award demonstrate that courageous women inspire a better world. These women have demonstrated exceptional courage and leadership while advocating for peace, justice, human rights, gender equality, and women’s empowerment – often at great personal risk and sacrifice. We know that when women are empowered, they are agents of positive change. I am so proud to commemorate the great work of each of this year’s IWOC awardees and especially honored that the First Lady will be joining us for the occasion.
The United States is dedicated to ensuring that gender equality and women’s empowerment are central tenets of our foreign policy and national security. Today, like every day, we stand firmly in our commitment to women’s empowerment and gender equality at home and around the globe. The United States is prepared to support and advance the health, economic, political, and human rights of every woman and girl, because when women are empowered, we are all better for it.