In honor of Women’s Equality Day, Ambassador Dr. Tulinabo Mushingi met with some of Angola’s female leaders.
Ambassador Dr. Tulinabo Mushingi’s Remarks on the reception
Thursday, August 24, 2023,
Good Evening and Boa Noite!
Mrs. Mushingi and I welcome you to our home this evening. It’s an honor to be surrounded by such a powerful group! Tonight, we celebrate gender equality and women’s empowerment. Between Angola and the United States, we reflect on the importance of female inclusion in all aspects of society, while uplifting bright examples of female leadership and achievement. Bright examples like American Vice- President Kamala Harris and Angolan Vice President Esperança da Costa are breaking down barriers as the first women to hold their positions. The agility and leadership of women like U.S. Speaker Emerita, Nancy Pelosi and the Angolan President of the National Assembly, Carolina Cerqueira – who is graciously joining us this evening – show how women are leading legislative bodies on both sides of the Atlantic. And there are countless more examples of representation and perseverance despite the unique challenges women face in our respective countries. Tonight’s gathering is a reminder to keep these issues at the forefront of our minds throughout the year, not just in March’s month-long celebration or in July when we honor African women. You are the movers, the shakers, the ones who make it happen leading at the front but all too often, women are left to lead from behind the scenes. Former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton said it well, “No society can thrive when half its people are left behind.”
This Saturday, we reflect on Women’s Equality Day in the U.S. It is a marker of the day when American women secured the right to vote on August 26, 1920. The very spirit of suffragism, or the right to vote, is about inclusion and ensuring that all citizens are able to fully participate in the political and economic life of their country. In the U.S. experience, when women gained this right, there was an immediate shift in policy, with increases in public spending on health, education, and social programs. By promoting women and girls, we not only touch on matters of human rights and inclusion but also uphold economic empowerment and development. But of course, I’m preaching to the choir. Gender inclusion does not mean that men are absent from these efforts. Men are essential allies and must support inclusion, by adding their voice to insist that opportunities for women be equitable and fair. As President Biden said, “Gender equality is not a women’s issue alone. It benefits everyone. Our society. Our economy. Our country.” In my career as an Ambassador, I know all too well how important it is to empower the women on my team and I even sometimes refer to my wife as my most “senior advisor”. Gender inclusion is at the forefront of our U.S. foreign policy.
The White House Gender Policy Council and our first ever National Strategy on Gender Equity and Equality, firmly outline how we will carry our work forward to build progress both in the United States and abroad. With over $1 billion in U.S. investments, we are supporting global initiatives to bolster women’s empowerment on the heels of the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit. Here in Angola, our Embassy’s mission to promote security, economic prosperity, and good governance intentionally integrates gender equality. We promote gender inclusion in the basic design of Embassy funded programs. One of the core requirements is gender parity with at least 50 percent female representation. This intentional requirement ensures that space is held for Angolan women and girls to seize opportunities for English language learning, digital literacy, entrepreneurship training, and overall empowerment. Through our exchange programs, we have expanded the networks and perspectives of influential women like Ana Celeste Januario from the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights, leading fashion designer, Nadir Tati, and renewable energy specialist, Alda Manuel. Programs like the International Visitor Leadership Program, Who Wants to be an Entrepreneur, and the Mandela Washington Fellowship, ensure that outstanding women are equipped with opportunities for leadership development, idea implementation, and inspiring networks to be hidden no more and lead from the front.
We know the empowering effects of investing in health and education assistance. For over five years, the U.S. government and ExxonMobil have partnered on the Mothers 2 Mothers program to reduce HIV/AIDS transmission from mother to child. I saw the monumental impact of this program when I met with “mother-mentors” in Benguela and heard their testimonials of women helping women to live healthier lives, combat stigma, and have children born free of HIV/AIDS. The Women in Agriculture project increases opportunities for rural women to fully participate as active citizens through formalized land ownership, updated farming
techniques, and literacy. And the latest effort, Digital Money is Better, will ensure female inclusion with digital financial tools, through a nearly $5 million partnership between USAID and Africell. These programs are proof of the power of inclusion to meet specific needs and deliver results not only for the participants, but also for their communities.
Our partnership with Angola on security promotion includes women in peace and security. This year, we hosted the second Women, Peace and Security Conference in Luanda through the US Africa Command (AFRICOM). Our work to ensure that Angola is a capable and strong promoter of peace in the region includes awareness that this is not possible if female security professionals are not included in these conversations. Similarly, our efforts to fund MAG and HALO demining teams includes support to all-women demining teams that are saving lives in their communities by supporting our shared goal of a mine-free Angola. By sharing our experiences, we believe that together, the U.S. and Angola, we can facilitate female leadership at the highest levels for inclusive planning and decision-making. We are more secure and stronger when we work together.
I hope that tonight, we build networks between us towards moving the needle of change in our respective areas. To achieve full women’s participation in the 21st century world, partnership is essential. By working with the Angolan government, multilateral organizations, and civil society partners, we are committed to closing the gaps in health, education, economic empowerment, and overall inclusion. We count on you to share your ideas and initiatives with us as look to build our cooperation and deliver results.
Happy Women’s Equality Day, thank you and boa continuação.