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When Women Succeed, the World Succeeds

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Today, women around the world are marking International Women's Day, a day to celebrate the social, political and economic achievements of women, while focusing attention on the many things we still need to do to achieve equality for women and girls.

Currently, women make up nearly 70 percent of the world's absolute poor -- those living on less than a dollar a day. That includes millions and millions of women! Here in the United States, 60 percent of minimum wage workers are women; women struggling to support their families.

Investing in women at home and abroad strengthens families, uplifts our children, improves health, makes communities and countries more peaceful and brightens our collective future. Where women have equality, security and the opportunity to live, work and prosper, their families and societies are better off.

I am a fierce advocate for the economic empowerment of all women. In the Congress, I am one of the leaders of an initiative called "When Women Succeed, America Succeeds." It is an economic agenda for women aimed at making sure women have equal pay for equal work, paid sick leave and affordable child care. Even today, 50 years after the passage of the Equal Pay Act, American women earn 77 cents for every dollar a man earns; even less for women of color.

Women of the world need security on all fronts. Currently, women age 14 to 44 are as likely to die from violence as from cancer. One in three women experiences physical or sexual abuse. Women everywhere are saying, "Enough is enough."

That's why I am a strong supporter of three essential bills that I believe would vastly improve the way women are treated around the world: the International Violence Against Women Act (IVAWA); the Women, Peace and Security Act (WPSA); and a United Nations resolution expressing support for the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).

I authored IVAWA, which would firmly establish the prevention of violence against women as a top foreign policy priority. IVAWA is particularly groundbreaking because it takes a comprehensive approach to the problem, facilitating a full spectrum of reforms, impacting judicial systems, health care, education, economic empowerment and practices that negatively affect the lives of women and girls.

I also introduced the WPSA, which would improve the lives of women around the world and increase global stability and prosperity. This legislation would implement a national action plan to coordinate the efforts of Congress, the President, the Secretary of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development to prevent and mitigate violent conflicts, and to ensure that women have meaningful participation in conflict resolution.

Lastly, I support the CEDAW resolution, which states that Congress should seek the full realization of women's rights and the end of discrimination against women worldwide. More than 180 countries around the world have ratified CEDAW, some with reservations. While the United States signed the treaty in 1981, it is one of the few countries that have not yet ratified it. As a global leader for human rights and equality, I believe our country should adopt this resolution and ratify the CEDAW treaty.

Through these three legislative initiatives, and others, we can help women everywhere live better lives.

This International Women's Day we should all think about how we can push forward all these proposals and others that elevate the status and security of women. If we make these issues a priority, women who are suffering from violence or struggling in poverty will have hope, and the girls of today will look forward to a future in which they can experience freedoms now out of their reach.