U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris said the Coronavirus had set women back globally, which had hindered the flourishing of democracy. Harris made the comments in a recorded message to the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women on March 16.

The commission's 65th session is being held March 15-26. Details are available at unwomen.org. A statement from the U.S. Mission to the U.N.

noted that this was the first time a "White House level" official attended a commission meeting.

The COVID-19 threat to women

According to Whitehouse.gov, Harris said the coronavirus had jeopardized "the economic security, the physical security, and the health of women everywhere." She observed that women were having difficulties obtaining medical care, and "the pandemic appears to be reversing the global gains" that had been achieved in combatting "HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, malnutrition, and maternal and child mortality."

In response to this situation, Harris recalled that President Joe Biden had brought the U.S. back into the World Health Organization (WHO) on the first day of his administration.

She said the U.S. was also "revitalizing our partnership with UN Women to empower women worldwide."

Democracy and the well-being of women

Harris said that when the burdens of inaccessible healthcare, domestic violence, hunger, and poverty prevented women from participating in the political process, democracy couldn't flourish.

"In other words, the status of women is the status of democracy," she said.

Democracy in decline

The Vice President said that the maintenance of democratic values was constantly becoming more difficult. The last 15 years "have seen a troubling decline in freedom around the globe," she said. The U.S. would again join the U.N.

Human Rights Council, Harris added.

Women in the US

Harris told the commission that in her country, "women strengthen our democracy every day." She pointed to the following signs of women's progress in America:

  • The number of women serving in the U.S. Congress is at an all-time high.
  • The number of households in which women are "their family's breadwinner" has also risen to historic levels.
  • Last week, Biden "nominated two women to take the helm of two of our 11 combatant commands."
  • More women than men have voted in presidential elections for 56 years.

The U.S. Mission at the U.N. noted that America's representative to the U.N., Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, was scheduled to address the commission on the last day of the session. According to the mission, "The annual two-week session of the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women is the most important annual meeting on women's issues at the United Nations."