AMBASSADOR HACHIGIAN: My voice is half here, but I’m 100 percent here. I’m so excited to have this conversation with these fantastic mayors. Before I worked for a city, I didn’t appreciate how much power that cities have to shape the lives of women, from giving them opportunities at schools, to getting STEM, play in sports leagues; to giving women entrepreneurs initial funding; to responding appropriately to domestic violence, to ensuring maternal care, to planning transportation routes that are better for (inaudible); creating role models like the first female firefighter or a chief engineer. So I’m thrilled to have this conversation with you all, with these fantastic mayors. And with that I’ll introduce Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Nina, thank you. Thank you so much. It’s wonderful to be with all of you today. I’ll just say a couple of things at the outset.
First, what’s happening here in Denver is incredibly special to me – I think to all of us from the State Department – because we know that the issues that we’re working on at a national level and even at an international level are the very same issues that mayors are working on at a local level. But whether it’s climate and the impact that that’s having, whether it’s trying to find ways to increase inclusive economic growth and opportunity, whether it’s expanding access to education, whether it’s dealing with some of the challenges of public health – in these and so many other areas, the solutions that you’re finding at a local level, at a municipal level, have national and international ramifications.
And the more we’re learning lessons from each other about what works, what doesn’t work, and the more we’re sharing that, I think the more effective we’re going to be in meeting these challenges. I had some opportunity being in Bogotá with the mayor to see some extraordinary things that the mayor’s doing in Bogotá that are – that have not just powerful results for people in Bogotá, but are really instructive and having effects beyond Bogotá, beyond Colombia, beyond the people who live in the region.
So I was anxious to hear a little bit from each of you some of the challenges that you’re encountering. Now, coincidentally, the mayors that we have with us today all happen to be women. (Laughter.) And what is also very compelling is that we have a lot of studies that are showing that women are particularly effective stewards of our cities, of our governments, and yet remain very much underrepresented. In our own country, I think about 25 percent of our mayors are women; in our national legislature the numbers a little bit higher, but not much; I know the numbers are very different depending on where you are in our own hemisphere.
But I was also interested in getting at some of the challenges that you’ve seen and how you’ve overcome them in making sure that there is genuine, equitable engagement in leadership positions in our cities as well as beyond.
And the other aspect of this that I think is so important is finding ways to advance women’s economic power. If we actually have equitable participation in the workforce around the world by women, it would add about $28 trillion to the global economy. That speaks volumes at a time when we need those resources.
Anyway, I was anxious to get a chance to share some of your experiences, and finally I’ll say this: I’m hoping very much that the work that’s being done here and the connections that are being made across our hemisphere continue well beyond the days in Denver. I’m really grateful to Nina Hachigian, who’s leading our efforts in the State Department in what we call sub-national diplomacy, which is an increasingly critical part of what we’re doing, and no one is actually better prepared to do that, having served at the highest levels of our national government but also as deputy mayor of Los Angeles, so not bad.
In any event, thank you all for taking some time.