Good morning! I'm delighted to send greetings to each of you as you come together to develop new ways to empower women. I also want to thank my good friend, Minister Kevin Rudd, and the Australian Government for hosting this important forum.
Study after study shows that gender equality is crucial to the economic and political stability of countries around the world. When women are able to participate in the political process and enter the labor force, economies grow faster, children are healthier, and there is less corruption. Entire societies flourish. So elevating women is not only the right thing to do, it's the smart thing to do.
Violence against women is one of the biggest obstacles to empowering women. That's why I am so pleased that the Pacific Women's Empowerment Initiative, which I announced with Minister Rudd last year, is coming together once again to enlist new partners and develop new ideas in this effort. You are helping to improve policies, initiate new programs, and establish new resources for the empowerment of women and girls in the Pacific region.
I hope this dialogue gives you an opportunity to discuss what works, what doesn't, and how we can build upon successful policies and programs to advance women's rights. And I hope your discussions yield concrete results, because this is a crucial issue for the Pacific region and the world. And I can't wait to hear about the next steps. Thank you.