December 14, 2021
(As prepared for delivery)
I’m glad to be at this event today, particularly honored to be on this distinguished panel and to meet, although some virtually, the organizers and participants in this ambitious and original project, RECOVI-EW. And I’d like to acknowledge the virtual presence of my good friend and colleague, Kat Fotovat, our senior official in the Secretary’s office of Global Women’s Issues. Her presence here acknowledges the significance the United States puts on this issue, the U.S.-Italy partnership, and your accomplishments.
The ingenuity of RECOVI-EW is how it addressed a crucial issue raised during the pandemic – women’s participation in the labor force. According to one study, 54 million women left the workforce during the pandemic around the world. Of those, up to 90 percent have not returned, compared to 70 percent of men who lost work during COVID. There are many reasons for this, including structural issues in our society. This program, RECOVI-EW, took this issue on directly. It resulted in remarkable synergies and collaborations among disadvantaged groups, associations and institutional players, working together to develop solutions to some of those issues. RECOVI-EW reached four Italian cities, featured international and Italian high level speakers, and involved hundreds of participants, pulling them all together to quickly respond to the challenges posed by the pandemic.
RECOVI-EW [Restarting the Economy after COVID-19 through the Empowerment of Women] — the name itself states a commitment to work primarily with women for the recovery — included an awareness campaign, four hackathons, of the results. The focus has constantly been on sustainable economic and social recovery projects, with an emphasis on women but involving also other vulnerable groups (including those with no employment benefits or protections), who engaged in a collaborative research for solutions leading to more equity. By creating partnerships among institutions, associations and individuals, participants were able to devise innovative and environmentally sustainable projects and the hackathons provided opportunities to identify and develop the best ideas to share and implement.
Why does the U.S. government support RECOVI-EW? Supporting women’s empowerment is a key objective of the U.S. government and is key to the economic grown and recovery of every nation. The United States and Italy are committed to working together to foster a sustainable economic recovery, and that is why we are supporting RECOVI-EW. The U.S. Embassy has strongly supported RECOVIEW both in principle and in practical terms through a grant that is available to participants in U.S. government’s sponsored exchanges: the Alumni Small Grants. The proposal went through a tough competition and was eventually selected in September 2020. RECOVI-EW embodies some of the key objectives for the U.S. government: women empowerment, equal and sustainable recovery actions, and countering domestic violence through women’s economic independence promotion.
Today, I look forward to hear about the projects that have been developed and how implementing them is fostering local communities and economics.
Again, let me congratulate you on your accomplishments, your hard work in bringing attention to our shared commitments and values: partnering to foster equality and towards a sustainable recovery.