The United States is proud to be marking this first-ever International Day of the Girl Child. In the last few decades, we have made great progress in raising the status of girls around the world. Today, an unprecedented number of girls are reaping the benefits of an education -- one that will help pave the way to healthier, more productive and secure lives. We have come a long way, but there are still millions of girls who are forced to drop out of school or never even have the chance to enroll. Millions are forced into early marriages and early motherhood. And discrimination, violence, and economic disparities still loom large in many countries -- preventing girls from reaching their full potential.
As Secretary of State, I have worked with my colleagues to ensure that breaking down these barriers and promoting gender equality is central to our diplomatic mission. Putting women and girls at the center of our foreign policy is not only the right thing to do, it's the smart thing to do. When we give girls the opportunity to go to school, receive quality health care, be free from violence and discrimination, we are strengthening not just girls, but also ensuring stronger families and communities, and, a more peaceful, prosperous and secure world.
The work that individuals, governments and civil society do to make sure that girls are valued is critical. The United States is and will remain a strong partner in this work - we are an unequivocal supporter of the right of every girl and boy in every country, every region, on every continent to reach her or his full potential.