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Building Back Equal In 2021

An photo of Kamala Harris smiling

We wish that today was not a historically monumental one. We wish the fact that a woman will be sworn in as the Vice-President of the United States was not something we had to celebrate. We wish that writing  “Madam Vice President” felt banal.

And yet, we are undeniably excited as we usher in this historical day where from now on we will say “Madam Vice President Harris.” We welcome the opportunity to celebrate all the women whose determination and bravery paved the way for the first female, Black, and Asian Vice President of the United States of America.

From January 20th, 2021 onward we hope that the new administration is going to make up for lost time in helping to make gender equality a reality in the US and around the world.

2020 was one of the most devastating years in modern memory, not least of all for women and girls who disproportionately bore the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic. From increased rates of child marriage and female genital mutilation in places like India and Kenya to the rise in forced pregnancies in the United States due to the inability to access contraception and abortion, it is clear that gendered impacts of the pandemic will far out last the virus itself. 

While last year put into sharp relief the persisting problem of gender inequality and intersecting forms of discrimination, 2021 offers hope. It can be the year we build back equal and ensure that women’s rights and gender equality rise to the top of the agenda.

We call on the new Biden-Harris Administration to prioritize building back equal by centering gender justice in their first 100 days in office. Specifically, we ask the administration to:

  1. Commit the United States to human rights and multilateralism by:
  • Renewing membership in the UN Human Rights Council, assuming leadership of the UN Security Council in March with a focus on prevention of conflicts through a focus on gender equality, and sending a high-level delegation to the upcoming UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW).
  • Signaling commitment to ratify CEDAW and its Optional Protocol and other human rights treaties.
  • Publicly recommitting the U.S. to a human rights-centric foreign policy, that incorporates a strong gender equality focus.  In particular, immediately reversing the Global Gag Rule so that women and girls around the world have access to Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights.

2.  Announce a Presidential Initiative on Ending Gender-Based Violence (GBV) that is incorporated into COVID response.

  • Issue an executive order that empowers USAID, the CDC, Department of State, Department of Defense, and other foreign facing agencies to effectively respond to the shadow pandemic of violence against women and girls that COVID has wrought.
  • Coordinate a strong GBV response throughout the U.S. global COVID response plan, with leadership directly from GBV experts.
  • Ensure adequate resources for the implementation of the 2016 GBV Strategy, including necessary personnel, training, and accountability standards, in consultation with civil society.
  • Commit to criminal justice sector reform that is intersectional and survivor-centered. 
  • Reinstate VAW as grounds for asylum.
  • Support global initiatives against online harms including online sexual exploitation, sextortion, image-based abuse, and digital misogyny.

3.  Incorporate the Equal Rights Amendment into the United States Constitution so that all women, girls, and marginalized genders are constitutionally protected from gender-based discrimination.

4.  Invest in national and local level women’s rights organizations and feminist movements that promote diverse and equitable policymaking.

While this list is certainly not exhaustive, we believe that, if implemented in the first one hundred days of the Biden-Harris Administration, these measures will have a significant impact on improving the lives of women and girls both in the US and around the world and will demonstrate a commitment to meaningful change. 

We ask you to join us in our demands for a more equal future. Are you in?