Madame Minister, Ambassador Soreca, members of parliament, Ms. Godaj, distinguished guests.
Thank you all for the invitation to be part of this event today. Empowering women and girls is among the main priorities of the U.S. Government. And, our U.S. National Security Strategy highlights the fact that investing in women helps nations achieve greater peace and security.
Over the years, the U.S. Embassy has supported a number of programs and initiatives here in Albania that have contributed to women’s political, social, and economic empowerment. For 10 years, we have supported the Breast Cancer Walk that takes place each fall. It is a great campaign to promote breast cancer awareness and help save lives. We thank YWCA Albania for its fortitude in starting the initiative, and for its energy and maintaining the momentum for over a decade.
And since its inception, this initiative has only grown in success. Not only due to the commitment and great efforts of the YWCA, but also because of critical support from members of civil society, media, businesses, government institutions, and politics. Who are these supporters? All of you in the audience today. Who is impacted? All of us sitting here today.
As I look around the room, I see an impressive number of women leaders gathered here today. Because this cause unites women like no other, transcending age, nationality, and political ideology. And as Ambassador Soreca alluded too, diplomats are humans. I will share something deeply personal with you today. Twelve years ago this month, I lost my mother to cancer. So, I know personally that breast cancer affects all of us, regardless of who we are or where we come from. Political parties? Irrelevant. Family connections? Irrelevant. Wealth or poverty? Irrelevant. Because, as you know, breast cancer knows no boundaries and is blind to privilege. And we know that the diagnosis of cancer is tragic and heartbreaking for families. No employer should then punish women who have to fight this terrible disease.
The study revealed today shows yet another opportunity for Albania’s leaders to work together to improve the situation for women in Albania, particularly those with breast cancer. I hope this is a common area where you – Albania’s political leaders – can come together, unite and bring this country forward. When you put your differences aside and join together for the greater good, you will lead this country with inspiration. You, the women of Albania, can provide examples for young girls, who are the future leaders of this country, and also for our male colleagues.
And so, the time is now. And, the opportunity is here. Albanian women leaders, working together to provide a bright example for your citizens. Economic development, peace and security, perhaps even electoral reform. All of these are possible with good leaders at the helm in a unity of effort.
Thank you again for this opportunity and thank you for coming together today to raise awareness for this incredibly important issue that affects us all.