In response to President Obama's challenge to other heads of state to break down barriers to women's political and economic participation, on September 24, 2012, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton launched the Equal Futures Partnership on behalf of the United States along with 12 other founding members (Australia, Benin, Bangladesh, Denmark, Finland, Indonesia, Jordan, the Netherlands, Peru, Senegal, and Tunisia; as well as the European Union). Each founding member made national commitments to policy, legal, and regulatory reforms to promote two mutually reinforcing goals: expanded economic opportunity for women and increased political and civic participation by women at local, state and national levels. Multilateral stakeholders including UN Women and the World Bank and leading businesses and non-profit institutions also pledged support for the partnership
Belgium, Croatia, Latvia, Morocco, New Zealand, Sierra Leone, Thailand, and Timor-Leste have joined the The Equal Futures Partnership since September 2012, and have begun developing commitments. Mexico and Italy have also delivered letters of intent to join. All new members will share progress on their commitments by September 2013, however, in the meantime, here is an update on highlights from new member commitments:
Belgium will strengthen women's participation in legislative bodies and politics, and will support efforts to ensure women's participation on corporate boards as well as protect leave for caretakers and flexible work policies, and will monitor and evaluate its efforts on all these fronts.
Croatia has developed a national action plan for Equal Futures to promote women's political participation, strengthen the social and economic position of rural women, advance female businesses and women in the labor market, and support international efforts to empower women.
Latvia is committing to reducing labor market segregation, expanding efforts to improve women's health care, including sexual and reproductive health by 2014, and building the capacity of law enforcement to address human trafficking.
Morocco will speed up and strengthen its program of institutional and legal reform and strengthen implementation of the government's plan on gender equality, and in particular redouble its focus on gender-based violence.
New Zealand will launch a "commitment to action" through which private and public sector partners agree to increase gender diversity in leadership, and in 2013, will focus on effective pathways for female leadership talent within the workplace.
Sierra Leone is committing to assessing and reforming laws, policies, and regulations that restrict women's participation in the formal economy, and in particular, will review and reform its land policy to ensure gender equality. In addition, Sierra Leone will focus on implementing its National Action Plan on gender-based violence, and implementing a 30 percent quota for women in governance at all levels.
Thailand will build on ongoing and comprehensive efforts to promote gender equality across political, social, and economic spheres by promoting new efforts to address gender bias and attitudes as a root cause of inequality in society.
Timor-Leste will focus on women's participation in local government, as well as expanding women's economic empowerment by transitioning women from micro to small and medium enterprises. In addition, Timor-Leste will focus on gender-based violence as a key barrier to women's political and economic participation.