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Happy International Women's Day - A Message from Ecuadorian Ambassador to the United States

Left:Cokie Roberts, Paula J. Dobriansky, Amb. Nirupama Rao (India), Amb. Muni Figueres (Costa Rica)& Amb. Nathalie Cely (Ecuador)

Today we celebrate International Women’s Day 2014. This year’s theme, Equality for Women is Progress for All, truly resonates with Ecuadorians and reflects the thinking behind the many reforms and initiatives we have undertaken to promote women’s equality.

In 2013, Ecuador was proud to rank among the top 25 countries in gender equality out of 136 countries measured by the World Economic Forum (and just two spots below the United States). Since 2006, this represents the third-highest improvement in gender equality in the world, which is a testament to the vision and policies of our Government. In Ecuador, women are now guaranteed equal pay, paid maternity leave, and full protection against domestic violence by our Constitution. And we are rapidly closing the gender gap in economic participation, education, health, and political empowerment.

To be sure, much hard work is still needed, but we are fully dedicated to making further meaningful progress towards achieving gender equality. Providing an environment where men and women can both succeed equally in business, politics, academia and the arts is the only way we can truly progress in the 21st century. As former U.S. Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton put it, "It’s not just the right thing to do. It’s a smart thing. Women and girls drive our economies. They build peace and prosperity. Investing in them means investing in global economic progress, political stability, and greater prosperity for everyone—the world over."

Today, I honor and congratulate all the fellow women around the world for all the many things you are doing to make our societies grow and prosper. We are not only women, but we are also sisters, mothers, friends, wives, business leaders, politicians and workers. Each of us is a source of comfort, guidance, support and strength for important members of our society, our family and our friends.

As we celebrate International Women's Day today, let us all come together - in the United States, in Ecuador, and around the world- with a renewed commitment to strengthening our societies, our communities, and our families. Together, we can create new and exciting opportunities and uplift all members of society.

*Nathalie Cely is Ecuador's Ambassador to the United States.

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