Remarks by Ambassador Patricia Haslach at the International Women’s Day Event with Ethiopian Media Women Association Members

Remarks by
Patricia Haslach
U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia
at the International Women’s Day Event
with Ethiopian Media Women Association members
March 11, 2015
U.S. Embassy, Addis Ababa

As prepared for delivery

Good morning.  I am very pleased to be here today to speak to this group of women media professionals.  This is the second time I have done this, and it makes me both happy and proud to engage with such a group of committed professional women.

International Women’s Day was just this past Sunday, and we are in the midst of Women’s History Month.  This is a very important time for the United States government, and for me personally.  One of our top priorities at the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa is to work to advance the role and situation of women in their communities and in Ethiopia generally.  We work to build their skills, improve their education, increase their awareness of their rights and opportunities, and generally to help enable them be the best they can be. Our slogan this year is “Make it Happen,” and we want to help you “Make it Happen.”

Let me start with a quote from our Secretary of State, John Kerry, which I believe captures our deep commitment to advancing the role of women in the world:

No country can get ahead if it leaves half of its people behind.  This is why the United States believes gender equality is critical to our shared goals of prosperity, stability, and peace, and why investing in women and girls worldwide is critical to U.S. foreign policy.

The United States government believes that every crisis we face as a global community – from infectious disease to violent extremism to extreme poverty and climate change – impacts and enables women and men differently.  While women and girls can suffer disproportionately as disease spreads or violence grows, they are also often on the front lines, offering solutions and working diligently to stem the crises at hand – not only for themselves, but for their families, communities, and countries.

In too many societies and too many homes, women and girls are still undervalued and denied opportunities to participate and contribute economically, politically, and socially.  When the voices of women and girls are left unheard, when their health and safety is left unprotected, when they are denied an education — their potential is wasted.  Too often, that lost potential is the difference between peace and instability, extremism and moderation, poverty and wellbeing.

Global stability, peace, and prosperity depend on protecting and advancing the rights of women and girls around the world.  Research shows that progress in women’s employment, health, and education can lead to greater economic growth and stronger societies.  Evidence demonstrates that integrating women’s perspectives into peace negotiations and security efforts helps prevent conflict and can lead to more durable peace agreements.  And when women and men are equally empowered as political and social actors, governments are more representative and effective.

The United States is, and continues to be, a strong champion for gender equality and the rights of women and girls around the world.  We support global progress towards gender equality through diplomatic engagement, foreign assistance programming, and partnerships with civil societies and private sector actors across the globe. Today’s event is an excellent example of this partnership.  We are proud to partner with EMWA in supporting this workshop, and for the second year in a row.  We are proud to be here today to work with you, and to help you build your skills as professionals.

I know you face challenges, but at the same time I also know that you would not be facing many of those challenges if you did not have the courage to be in the field you are in.  Media professionals play a hugely important role in society, and it can be very challenging, sometimes even dangerous.  I believe that it is imperative that women can and should play an equal role in this field.  As women professionals, I also believe it is important that we seek to help each other, to support each other, and to do our best to nurture and grow new talent, especially of among women.  As professional women, we should take it upon ourselves not only to do the best we can for ourselves, but to help our women colleagues who are new in our field, or who are facing challenges, be the best they can as well.

We are not alone, and we should not be alone.

An important lesson I have learned in my professional life is that the role of a mentor, or of mentoring, can play a major role in a person’s professional development.  A mentor is a colleague, a friend, or a trusted advisor who can offer objective, honest advice and counsel, sometimes professional and sometimes personal, in helping someone face challenges in the workplace, or of balancing work life and personal life, and ultimately to help them grow and succeed as a professional.

I expect many of you have had someone like this in your life.  I sure have.  As the Ambassador, I encourage mentoring at the U.S. Embassy because I believe we can and should help and support our colleagues, and share our experiences to help others, maybe younger, maybe less experienced, or perhaps in a bit over their heads, do the best they can.

You are fortunate to be here today at this workshop to share your experiences with each other, but also to hear from and learn from experts and leaders in the field.  I hope all of you will not only benefit from this workshop,  but that you will also return to your homes and places of work with a new dedication not only to be the best you can be, but to help others, other women media professionals, be the best they can be.  Help nurture new talent.  Be a mentor.  Help your colleagues “Make it Happen!”

Thank you very much for your attention, and I wish you a very successful and rewarding day.