Remarks by Under Secretary Lago - September 5

Washington, DC
September 5, 2023

As Prepared for Delivery

Thank you for that kind introduction, and good afternoon, everyone! On behalf of the International Trade Administration (ITA) at the U.S. Department of Commerce it is my pleasure to be with you virtually. How I look forward to the day when we can meet in person. I am thrilled to join you alongside Ambassador Brink to celebrate the progress that we have made in women’s economic empowerment.

Supporting the advancement of women and underrepresented communities is at the heart of the Biden-Harris Administration’s equity agenda, and it is central to my work at ITA. I am proud to work under the leadership of Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, who is uplifting women in the workforce, advocating for equal pay and striving to provide women with the resources that they need to compete and be successful.

The data is abundantly clear: communities thrive when women are fully integrated and included in the workforce. In the United States, we know that we still have a lot of work to do to build a workforce that reflects our entire country, and the same holds true for Ukraine.

As Secretary Raimondo recently said, “Investing in women is not just a matter of fairness; we risk falling behind if we fail to support bringing more women into the workforce.” The more diverse voices and experiences that we bring to the table, the better that we can ensure that the benefits of trade are shared more broadly and equitably, in our communities and across the globe.

That is why it is such an honor to celebrate with you the decade-long progress that the Women Executives Leadership Development Initiative has made since its inception in 2013. Happy tenth anniversary! But we have to recognize that this is no ordinary anniversary. The world continues to be inspired by the resilience of Ukraine’s people and the courage of Ukraine’s troops. We are also inspired by the strength and resilience of Ukrainian women - at home, on the front line, and as executives and businesswomen.

I am personally passionate and invested in advancing women’s role in the economy and promoting women-owned businesses in the United States, in Ukraine and worldwide. During my international travels, I meet with representatives of women-owned businesses in the countries that I visit. They inspire me, they teach me, and they give me hope for a better future. Ensuring that women can fully participate in the economy is not just the right thing to do, it is good business sense. It is the policy that will foster sustainable, broad-based growth for both of our economies.

ITA is here to support you, working closely with AmCham Ukraine. Last spring, together with AmCham Ukraine, ITA hosted virtual workshops focused on resources for Ukrainian women entrepreneurs as part of our EMPOWER HER initiative. These workshops provided a forum to share our experiences, our creative ideas and our best practices, all with the goal of helping to ensure that women can compete and succeed in the global economy. Stay tuned, as our team plans to conduct similar events in the future.

There is great potential for the United States to strengthen our commercial relations with Ukraine while helping to rebuild your country. We know that micro, small and medium-sized businesses are the engines of growth that will help lift Ukraine and drive economic development. And women entrepreneurs and executives will continue to be central in Ukraine’s rise. Entrepreneurship, business ownership, and executive leadership can all provide an avenue to economic security and financial independence for women, for their families, for their communities and for their nations.

My team is excited to partner with you and help you achieve your business goals and succeed in the international marketplace. Again, a very happy tenth anniversary to the Women Executives Leadership Development Initiative. With your track record and deep bench of talent, I cannot wait to see what the next decade brings!