US Vice President Kamala Harris to make UN debut at gender equality meeting

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Kamala Harris is due to make her United Nations debut as US vice president next week when she addresses an annual United Nations meeting on the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women.

Harris will speak at the virtual 65th Commission on the Status of Women on March 16, US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said on Monday, adding Washington would also join a UN “Group of Friends for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and Girls.”

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“We all believe and understand that when women do better, countries do better,” Thomas-Greenfield said. “It is time we translate our noble commitments into concrete action.”

She said the US would take a leading role to combat sexual and gender-based violence around the world and to push for more women to be included in peace talks globally.

Under former US President Donald Trump’s administration, the US led a push at the United Nations against the promotion of women’s sexual and reproductive rights and health because it sees that as code for abortion. It has opposed such language in UN resolutions.

In May, the Trump administration accused the United Nations of using the coronavirus pandemic as an opportunity to promote access to abortion through its humanitarian response to the deadly global outbreak. The United Nations rejected the accusation.

The Trump administration also cut funding in 2017 for the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) because it said it “supports, or participates in the management of, a program of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization.” The United Nations said that was an inaccurate perception.

US President Joe Biden intends to restore UNFPA funding.

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