When many of the world's 850 million girls go to sleep tonight, they will dream about futures that sadly --tragically--are nearly impossible for them to achieve.
In too many countries, the promise of the next generation of girls is at risk. In too many communities, the contributions of girls are not valued, their well-being is not protected, and their aspirations are not taken seriously.
As the father of two daughters, I know that is unacceptable. Supporting the rights of girls is the moral and just thing to do. And as someone who sits today in the same chair where extraordinary women like Hillary Rodham Clinton, Condoleezza Rice, and Madeleine Albright sat before me, I know that it's also the smart thing to do. Investing in girls is a critical part of our duty to promote prosperity, security, and peace around the world. Empowered girls grow up to be empowered women. They grow up to be empowered mothers, leaders, and innovators. They grow up to move their communities forward and make the world a better place.
I am proud of the accomplishments of my own daughters and my wife. I want all girls to have the same opportunities they had to get a good education, pursue their passions in a safe environment, and achieve their full potential.
Thanks to a number of global partnerships and programs led by the State Department, like TechGirls and NeXXt Scholars -- and great USAID programs like Safe Schools -- we have made important progress. Today, more and more girls are enrolling in school in Afghanistan, and fewer and fewer girls are victims of female genital mutilation in Africa. But our work is far from over.
Every year, the International Day of the Girl is a chance for us to reaffirm our commitment to girls' rights, to celebrate their value to society, and to address the unique challenges they still face. It is a call to action for everyone to build on the progress we have made on global women's rights. If we heed that call, if we keep faith with the enormous potential and promise of young women, the dreams of our daughters will one day be just as viable as the dreams of our sons.