AMBASSADOR GALT: Good evening, MASA members, panelists, and distinguished guests.
Thank you Ms. Gandolgor for your introduction and for organizing tonight’s discussion.
I would also like to recognize Vice Minister of Finance and MASA President Bulgantuya for your leadership and for serving as such a compelling role model for women and girls.
It is an honor to open the second session of the “Let’s Discuss It Together” series, this time to hear diverse views on the topic of women’s leadership.
Encouraging women to aspire to leadership positions is extremely important to me, but I also recognize how important it is to ensure that opportunities exist for leadership and full and equal participation in society.
In the United States, we have sought to do this by adopting laws which prohibit discrimination based on gender, race, color, religion, ethnicity, or national origin.
More recent U.S. laws have added protections against discrimination on the basis of age, disabilities, or sexual identity.
Our laws also recognize that it’s not enough to just prohibit discrimination.
We must also take action to ensure equal opportunity for all individuals.
Here in Mongolia, MASA has given us an example of this kind of action in the project “Empowering Women and Girls through Entrepreneurship.”
By providing more than 100 women from low-income families with basic finance, business, and communications skills, this project helps to foster economic growth and open up more opportunities for women.
Our U.S. Agency for International Development team has helped create equal economic opportunity for women in Mongolia by expanding access to credit for small and medium enterprises.
Of the 231 loans that the REACH program has offered since June 2016, 31 percent have gone to women-owned businesses.
In the security realm, the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies and the Mongolian Institute for Strategic Studies have worked together to identify the impediments to women’s participation in the security sector in Mongolia and countries across Asia.
Efforts to eliminate or mitigate these impediments are paving the way for new opportunities – equal opportunities – for women. I’m very proud of these efforts.
I’m also proud that we are seeking to send the first Mongolian female cadet to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point or the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis – an opportunity that was not open to women before 1976.
Also important are efforts to enhance women’s participation in politics.
We have worked with a local partner to increase the numbers of women running for office at the local, regional, and national levels, as well as raise public awareness of the challenges that women face when seeking a stronger political voice.
Peace Corps Mongolia is working to empower girls through the “Let Girls Learn” program, and volunteers have organized numerous athletic activities for girls, both abled and with disabilities.
And providing greater sports opportunities for women has been a focus in the United States ever since the passage of Title IX of the Education Amendments in 1972.
It is a pleasure to work with MASA and U.S. and Mongolian NGOs and government organizations to promote equal opportunity in all its forms across Mongolia.
I look forward to hearing from our distinguished panelists and learning what more we can do to ensure that women have even greater leadership and other opportunities in the years ahead.