It is wonderful to see so many strong, empowered women here today, representing Madagascar.
Thank you to the Federation of Malagasy Basketball for inviting me to speak today. I commend the Federation’s leadership for focusing on empowering women and girls through basketball.
Empowering women and girls is a cornerstone of U.S. foreign policy. Gender equality is not only a human right – it is the foundation of efforts to promote democracy, peace, and inclusive economic growth.
We know when women are involved in decision-making, we can more effectively address global challenges such as climate change, forced displacement, and COVID-19.
And when women succeed, families, communities, and nations succeed.
Still, women and girls everywhere experience challenges that impede their full participation in all sectors of society – including sports.
Fifty years ago, the United States passed legislation to prohibit gender discrimination in education and included sports as part of that education.
In those 50 years, we have seen the opportunities for girls and women to participate both on and off the court grow exponentially.
Participating in sports teaches the values of solidarity and sisterhood, responsibility and discipline. Participating in sports enhances health and self-esteem. Participating in sports empowers young women to achieve their dreams, defy gender stereotypes, and inspire the next generation.
As Nelson Mandela once said, “Sport has the power to change the world.” Today, we see women as leaders on the court, among their families, and in their communities.
This event has inspired us. As we cheer the athletes, we are also raising donations for those affected by recent cyclones and providing a convenient place for vaccination against COVID-19.
In the spirit of sisterhood, responsibility, and discipline, I urge anyone here today who is not vaccinated to take advantage of the opportunity to protect yourself, your elders, and your community from COVID-19 virus. Get vaccinated!
Thank you and Happy International Women’s Day!