Remarks by AIT Director Sandra Oudkirk at the Opening of
a Virtual Global Cooperation and Training Framework (GCTF) Workshop
on Road to Parity: Women’s Participation in Public Life
Foreign Minister Wu, Representative Izumi, Representative Bloomfield, Executive Director Reeves, distinguished guests, and audience members—it is my pleasure to offer remarks to open today’s virtual workshop on “Road to Parity: Women’s Participation in Public Life” held under the Global Cooperation and Training Framework or GCTF.
The GCTF program has come a long way since it first began in 2015, with Japan joining as a full partner in 2019. Now in 2021, we are glad to welcome Australia as a full partner! To Representative Bloomfield and our Australian friends—welcome aboard., We look forward to collaborating with you on this GCTF and many more to come.
I would like to extend my appreciation to Taiwan’s National Human Rights Commission, Foundation for Women’s Rights Promotion and Development, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for organizing today’s event. Taiwan is a model to us all for empowering women’s participation and leadership in the political process. Last year, Taiwan re-elected President Tsai Ing-Wen for a second term while a then- 27-year-old woman, Lai Pin-yu, became Taiwan’s youngest legislator to join a legislature that has the highest rate of female representation in Asia, accounting for over 40% of its members.
In the United States, women make up just over a quarter of all members of the U.S. Congress in 2021—the highest percentage in U.S. history. In March this year, President Biden established the White House Gender Policy Council to advance gender equity and equality in both domestic and foreign policy development and implementation. The Gender Policy Council covers a range of issues—including economic security, health, gender-based violence and education—with particular attention to the barriers faced by women and girls. The Council also plays an essential role in President Biden’s efforts to advance equity in government policy for those who face discrimination and bias based on multiple factors—including members of the Black, Latina, Native American, Asian American Pacific Islander, and LGBTQI+ communities, as well as persons with disabilities.
While the improvement in the United States is notable and the continued successes of Taiwan truly commendable, we all still have a long road ahead of us to achieve parity, which is what brings us together today.
Gender equality is key to collective prosperity for a society. Women’s full participation and leadership in public life are essential for creating a safer and more stable world for us all. Women’s equal opportunity in politics, economics, and all areas of public life are among the core values shared by both the United States and Taiwan.
It is an honor to have distinguished women from the United States, Taiwan, Japan, Australia, Canada, and Sweden joining this workshop to share experiences, challenges, and best practices for empowering women. I hope that you can take the lessons that you learn from our workshop and integrate them into your own work to promote women’s participation in public life, bringing us all a step closer to parity.
On behalf of the United States, I want to thank all of you for the work you all do. I am delighted that you were all able to take the time to participate in this important workshop. Thank you.