Global Awareness Timeline

Following the 1995 UN Conference on Women, the US State Department created Vital Voices, an initiative to bring awareness to the accomplishments of women worldwide. Vital Voices continues today as a non-profit organization.

Fourth World Conference on Women, Beijing, China 1995

Fourth World Conference on Women, Beijing, China 1995

“Around the world, if women are healthy and educated, their families will flourish. If women are free from violence, their families will flourish. If women have a chance to work and earn as full and equal partners in society, their families will flourish. When families flourish, communities and nations do as well.”


Human rights are women’s rights; women’s rights are human rights. Every woman deserves the right to realize her God-given potential.”
Hillary Rodham Clinton, The United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women, Beijing, China / Sept 1995

In 2008, Goldman Sachs published Women Hold Up Half the Sky, a global economics study reporting that at the macroeconomic level, female education is a key driver for long-term economic growth, and it is linked to higher productivity and a more favorable demographic structure. Further, because educated women are more likely to work, the gender gap in employment shrinks over time and translates into higher GDP growth and higher income per capita.

Investing in female education “has a multiplier effect on productivity, efficiency and sustained economic growth. Educated women have more economic opportunities and engage more fully in public life.”
United Nations: Investing in Women and Girls, Feb 2008

In 2010, The United Nations Commission on the Status of Women Report reaffirmed the 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, noting again the importance of women’s economic empowerment as a key factor in sustainable economic development. The report urges all UN member states to promote non-discriminatory education opportunities for broader career choices; and support girls participation in science and technology education programs aimed at preparing girls for decision-making in all fields, including economics.

“This is not an exercise to do the right thing solely–it is for us to do the right thing and be very strategic with our own policies, programs and initiatives in areas of conflict or political transition,” Verveer said. “If we really want to have the best outcomes, we really need to focus on the roles women can and must play.”
Ambassador Melanne Verveer, US Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues

Investing in the education of girls closes the gender gap in economic activity. Doing so can raise a country’s GDP by up to 5.4%.
“Measuring the Economic Gain of Investing in Girls: The Girl Effect Dividend” August 2011

Most recently in February 2012, the US State Department announced the Empowering Women & Girls through Sports initiative to increase the number of women and girls worldwide who are involved in sports. A cornerstone of this project is the creation of a new sports mentorship program connecting women and girls from across the globe with American athlete counterparts.