Today is International Women's Day

A lot of statistics will be put forward. A lot of statements will be published. A lot of commitments will be made.

But today I want to share with you some insights about the extraordinary women that I have met over the last year.

Today I first remember all the women and girls without a name, and often without a face.

Like the Chibok girls who were abducted three years ago. Many of them have been released and are rebuilding their lives. Some of them are still hostages and must be brought back home.

Or the numerous women and girls who are risking their lives on dangerous boats, trying to reach European shores and a better future. They are the first victims of the worst kind of trafficking you can imagine.

And the women and girls who are being increasingly instrumentalised by the terrorist groups, whose violence knows no limits.

I remember the amazing women and girls I have met throughout my travels this year.

The families in Matam, Senegal, who have been torn apart because their husbands had to migrate out of desperation and in search of opportunities. They just want to be reunited.

The women and girls in Dire Dawa in Ethiopia, who are often the first to suffer the devastating effects of hunger and under-nutrition. 

Anta Mbow, who is leading the "Empire des Enfants," which provides refuge, an education and a future for some 8,000 street children of Dakar, Senegal.

The women of San Ignacio in Paraguay, who are together accessing finance, increasing production and innovation, and thereby improving food security and rural livelihoods.

The nine inspiring female young leaders I met at the European Development Days in Brussels in June 2016. Ruba Ahmad who is fighting inequalities and discrimination in Jordan, and Vandinika Shukla who is promoting accessibility and equal opportunities in schools in India.

Radha who is fighting child marriage in Bangladesh and Rixt who is a youth activist on gender equality in the Netherlands. They took over our social media channels during the European Week of Action for Girls.

The incredible women fighting for "Empowered Women and a Prosperous Afghanistan," and to ensure the gender perspective is incorporated in peace-building and socio-economic development, including the First Lady Rula Ghani and Dr Habiba Sarabi.

The amazing women I met at the Food and Agriculture Organisation's conference on "stepping it up with rural women to end poverty and hunger." Tawakkol Abdel-Salam Karman a Yemeni journalist, politician, human rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate. Denise Brown from the World Food Programme. Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden a Sustainable Development Goals Advocate.

The amazing response from the women and girls at the "Women Deliver Conference" to the message that men and boys must also play their role in pushing for gender equality.

I remember the inspirational female leaders.

The First Ladies of Benin, Burkina Faso and Niger who recently announced that they will do everything they can to 'end the scourge of female genital mutilation' in their countries.

The President of Mauritius and the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Kenya and Rwanda, whom I meet regularly. They are true political leaders, with a real vision for their countries and a strong commitment to their peoples' well-being.

Michaëlle Jean, the Secretary General of the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie, who has been one of the strongest advocates of women and young people.

Amina Mohammed's tireless work in galvanising support for the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, which has been rightly recognised in her appointment as Deputy Secretary-General of the UN.

My regular meetings with Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women. Together with the High Representative Federica Mogherini we reaffirmed our strategic partnership with a call to "step it up for gender equality and women's empowerment worldwide."  

Finally, I would also like to remember all the women - and men! – who I work with daily.

Within my own team, within the European Commission, in Europe and worldwide - who are working on a daily basis to ensure that every day, everywhere, the rights of women and girls are protected and promoted.

 

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