Tuesday April 10, 8:00 AM, FEPADE
Message from Ambassador Jean Manes to the Association of Parliamentarian and Ex-parliamentarian Women
* This is a courtesy translation. Only the original Spanish language text should be considered authoritative.
It is a great honor to be here this morning and to address a group of women who are leaving their mark on the future of this country. You are part of a movement that is vital for Salvadoran democracy, for the creation of a nation that represents all Salvadorans equally.
The struggle for fair representation in politics is precisely that: a struggle and the road ahead is still very long. In El Salvador, the percentage of women in the Legislative Assembly still does not represent the Salvadoran population as a whole. In my own country, the number of women in the U.S. Congress fares even worse. This means that the interests and needs of women in both of our countries will benefit from having greater representation in the legislature.
But, this lack of equality is a detriment not only to Salvadoran women, but to the entire country. Globally, it has been shown that nations which choose women instead of men to lead in offices end up with better economic performance. Having a woman in the position of superior national leadership was correlated with a 6.8 percent increase in GDP growth compared to nations with male leaders.
You have a difficult task ahead of you, to be the voice of all women in El Salvador. I want to congratulate the Association of Parliamentarian and Ex-parliamentarian Women for this regional initiative that precisely seeks to strengthen the capacities of all parliamentarian women to exercise their rights and obligations as representatives of their respective citizens. The challenge you have now is to go beyond traditional issues, because your voice is vital in addressing all issues. It is especially vital in issues central to El Salvador such as security and economy. What you bring to the discussion is necessary to draft legislation that can be of real impact for Salvadoran society.
But, you are also demonstrating something that is urgent for El Salvador. You are demonstrating that it is possible to work in a consensual manner from different political ideologies towards a common goal: to make this country grow, to improve security, increase job opportunities and the economy and strengthen your institutions. I want to thank Nidia Diaz, Margarita Escobar, Milagro Azcúnaga and Lilian Navarrete for putting aside partisan divisions and putting the citizens that you represent first. You have made it clear that when there is political will, you are able to overcome any barrier that may arise. On behalf of the United States, you can count on our full support because we believe in women’s leadership, and we trust in your capacities as legislators of the country.
Do not forget the women who came before you and who created the path you followed to get here. Remember that the only way forward is together, helping each other, and supporting those women who will come after you.
Each one of you is a model for someone else, for many women who you do not yet even know. They are watching your struggle and your dedication for this country. Your struggle is an example for all women, it shows them that their goals are also achievable. And, as Margarita mentioned, do not hide your voice. Now that you have this responsibility, use it. Use it for good. The path of politics is not easy — that is why I am not into that. I am a career Ambassador, because I am also afraid of politics.
The path you selected is difficult, it is not easy, but it is worth it! It is worth is because you are fighting for your country and there is no bigger challenge than to lead your people. So, let us keep going, let us keep pushing, because if it’s not us, who? And if it is not now, when?
I have 100% confidence in you that can lead this country. We believe in you and will continue by your side.