Remarks by Ambassador Sullivan to honor Human Rights Day and 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence

End Gender-Based Violence

December 9, 2021

Representative of the Government of Ghana; Members of the Diplomatic Corps; Honored guests, friends, and our 16 Days of Activism Champions,

Akwaaba to my home and thank you for joining me this evening.  Welcome also to our visiting Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement, Toby Bradley.

Tomorrow is Human Rights Day and the conclusion of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence, which began on November 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the global 16 Days of Activism campaign, providing an opportunity for the United States to reaffirm its enduring commitment to preventing and responding to gender-based violence.

We’re all too familiar with the statistic that one in three women is assaulted in her lifetime and that reports of domestic violence have increased worldwide during the COVID-19 pandemic.  We know too well that gender-based violence robs a person of dignity and opportunity. We also know that our collective efforts are moving the needle on these statistics.  We support community leaders and civil society who are raising awareness to change the narrative and empowering girls and women for greater opportunity.

We also promote the efforts of those striving to ensure better, more accessible, support services are delivered to those in need.  Preventing and responding to all forms of gender-based violence is a top priority in the U.S. government’s commitment to promoting democracy, advancing human rights, and furthering gender equality. The United States stands with female human rights defenders and salutes the critical role they play in securing universal and equal access to the fundamental freedoms of all persons.

We know that empowering women contributes to social stability, security, and peace.  That’s why promoting human rights, especially gender equity, is among our top priorities.

Ambassador Sullivan: "Empowering women contributes to stability, security, and peace. That's why promoting human rights, especially gender equity, is a top foreign policy priority."
U.S. Ambassador Stephanie Sullivan’s message.

We promote gender equity by: increasing access to comprehensive health care for women and girls; promoting sexual and reproductive health and rights; and addressing the gender-specific ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our Mission supports women’s entrepreneurship; provides grants for women to scale up their business; promotes export opportunities through the African Growth and Opportunity Act; inspires more girls to pursue STEM subjects in school; and promotes professional development for female educators.

We support the courageous storytellers – the artists, the academics, the filmmakers, and the journalists – who help get the difficult stories told, who offer opportunity for victims to become empowered, and who embolden survivors.

Finally, we’re committed to supporting meaningful participation of women in all decision-making processes, because when women are at the table, it leads to better and more sustainable policies and outcomes—not only for women, but for entire communities and countries.

In short, when women achieve their full potential, we all win.

Among us here tonight are some of our invaluable partners with whom we collaborate to overcome the challenges and unleash women’s full potential in shaping their own stories and their communities. YOU are the inspiring service providers, activists, artists, journalists, and policy makers.

On November 25, the U.S. Embassy launched our 16-day multi-media campaign to further build awareness of how gender inequality enables gender-based violence to persist.

Over the past 15 days, our Mission joined several of Ghana’s influential champions for women’s rights and advocates to help raise the volume to the global cry, “End violence against women now!”  Say it with me, “End violence against women now!” I’m proud to join these champions with my own message on our U.S. Embassy social media platforms tomorrow.

I’m so pleased to see many of you here tonight.  Your words and your actions have reached more than 200,000 people on our U.S. Mission’s social media platforms alone – and we thank each of you for sharing these important stories on your own social media pages.  We hope the campaign has highlighted the benefits to society when women and girls are safe and empowered, and living, studying, and working in an environment where they can thrive and be all that they can be! We hope more people were encouraged to actively speak out against gender-based violence. We hope our campaign sensitized people to the reality that some are at greater risk of violence – including persons with disabilities, those in fragile and conflict-affected areas, and members of the LGBTQI+ community.  All deserve the right to live free of violence and reach their emotional, educational, and professional potential. I’m honored to be surrounded by such brave and bold citizens who care deeply about Ghana and its people.

I would like to invite each of our 16 Days of Activism Champions to please join me when I call your name. 

  • Dorcas Ama Frema Coker-Appiah, Executive Director of the Gender Studies and Human Rights Documentation Centre
  • Mama Atrato II, Queen Mother of Ho, also known as Josephine Dzah
  • Rebecca Ohene-Asah, storyteller and professor at the National Film and Television Institute
  • Regina Asamoah, News Editor at Atinka FM/TV and activist/documentary filmmaker
  • Dinah Adiko, Gender Equality and Social Inclusion Consultant
  • Chief Inspector Benedicta Okyerewaa Biney, Western Region, Domestic Violence and Victim Support Unit (DOVVSU) Sekondi
  • Lamnatu Adam, Executive Director of Songtaaba
  • Queen Boresah, the Nkilgiwurche Boresah Iddisah Jeduah 1
  • Florence Toffa, Director of the American Corner Agbogba and CEO of Mobile Web Ghana, along with some of the amazing women behind the ongoing American Space series, “Shifting Blame”
  • Patience Quaye, Assistant Commissioner of Police (retired)
  • Sophia Eva Ennim, Superintendent of Police, Domestic Violence and Victim Support Unit Coordinator, Madina Division
  • Dr. Mrs. Dzifa Attah, Clinical Psychologist & Senior Lecturer, University of Ghana Medical School
  • Ms. Lilipearl Baaba Otoo, Journalist at The Business & Financial Times (BFT) and Founder of Bridge for Equity NGO

Not with us this evening, but also a key part of the campaign:

  • Her Royal Highness Lady Julia Osei Tutu, Manhyia Palace
  • Dr. Angela Dwamena-Aboagye, Executive Director of The Ark Foundation
  • Ms. Annabelle Pwalia, Crisis Center Manager at The Ark Foundation
  • Naval Captain Veronica Adzo Arhin, Gender Policy Advisor to the Chief of Defense Staff, Ghana Armed Services and
  • Chief Superintendent Owusuwaa Kyeremeh, Director of the Domestic Violence and Victim Support Unit (DOVVSU) of the Ghana Police Service
  • Professor Akosua Adomako Ampofo, activist scholar and Professor of African and Gender Studies at the Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana
  • Abigail Ofori-Amanfo, Gender Activist and Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Specialist.

Thank you all for your contributions during the 16 Days and throughout the year!