09/12/2014 11:32 am ET Updated Nov 12, 2014

20 Years After the International Conference on Population and Development

This week the U.N. Foundation and the U.S. Department of State brought together many of the U.S. delegates to this important conference in Cairo, Egypt. It was an opportunity to reflect on what we did two decades ago and where we are now.

A major theme now, as then, was how do we support women and girls around the world. Former Secretary of State for Global Affairs, and former President of the U.N. Foundation, captured the essence in his speech on Tuesday morning at the State Department. He said we are all custodians of a set of accomplishments and dreams.

So central to this is the opportunity for women to make decisions for themselves. We have seen women around the world take charge of their future, and we have advanced the cause by educating girls in country after country. It was a partnership between and among countries. It still is.

Twenty years ago there was tremendous need for women's health. That has not changed. But HIV/AIDS diagnosis and treatment is transformed when looked at through the lens of women's issues. The headlines on violence against women in the past few days is now being revealed for what it is, an ongoing problem everywhere. Sustainable development goals have to include women and development, women's reproductive health and climate change.

Unmet need for women's health is reflected in 250 million women and families who don't have access. However, maternal mortality has fallen by 50 percent and infant mortality has been reduced by almost as much. All of us together have made a difference for millions of people around the world.

I am proud to have been a delegate to the conference. However, I am deeply committed to expanding women's leadership. Let's celebrate and then get back to work.