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In advance of tonight’s State of the Union, WRC urges focus on women/girls in humanitarian crises

Washington, D.C. – President Joe Biden tonight will deliver the first State of the Union of his administration. The speech, delivered before a joint session of Congress, comes amid acute crises in countries around the globe, with an estimated 274 million people who will be in need of humanitarian assistance this year due to conflict and disaster.

In advance of the president’s speech, Gayatri Patel, vice president of external relations at the Women’s Refugee Commission, issued the follow statement:

“Tonight, human rights and humanitarian advocates – especially women’s rights leaders – will pay close attention to the president’s remarks and his plan to address global crises in the coming year.

“From Ukraine to Afghanistan to Ethiopia to the U.S. border with Mexico, women and girls are uniquely impacted by conflict and crisis. They face disproportionate risks of gender-based violence, economic insecurity, and lack of access to essential services. These advocates have been demanding change, a new way of doing things so that their voices are heard, especially when it comes to government actions and policies affecting them.

“We hope to hear the president echo the voices of these women’s rights leaders and make meaningful commitments to advance their rights and meet their needs in times of crisis. Too often, they are ignored and left behind – this must end.

“In the coming year, we strongly encourage the president to embrace a foreign policy founded on human rights and feminist principles, such as inclusive and diverse multilateralism and diplomacy, so that crises do not devolve into armed conflict and devastation such as we are seeing in Afghanistan and Ukraine.

“We urge the administration to pursue a foreign policy that works to find common ground so that the meaning of security goes beyond military might to foster sustainable peace and human dignity, no matter where you live, how you identify, or what you look like.”