March 8, 2019

As the world celebrated International Women’s Day, the Trump administration announced the nomination of Kelley Currie to ambassador-at-large for global women’s issues. The International Women’s Health Coalition (IWHC) has serious concerns about the selection of Currie, a political appointee with no history of leadership on women’s rights or gender, by an administration that is in no position to lead on these issues.

“Ambassador Currie lacks any history of leadership on gender issues, and instead has a track record of being a mouthpiece for the incredibly dangerous polices of the Trump administration at the United Nations,” said Shannon Kowalski, director of advocacy and policy at IWHC. “Since day one, the administration has pursued an anti-women agenda, and the selection of an ambassador-at-large for global women’s issues who lacks expertise on gender indicates the administration will continue to prioritize regressive ideology over women’s rights.”

Until January, Currie served as the US representative to the United Nations Economic and Social Council. Currie leaves the US Mission to the UN with a history of clashing with human rights groups. While her resume includes foreign policy experience, it lacks any focus on issues of gender or women’s rights, for which, as ambassador-at-large, she would assume responsibility.

Last year, over 80 civil society groups came to consensus on a list of minimum qualifications for any potential nominee to this critical position; Currie falls short in a number of key areas. Most concerning, she lacks a track record of advancing women’s human rights and empowerment. In addition, her recent tenure at the US Mission to the UN, and her willingness to carry out the Trump administration’s efforts to undermine multilateral spaces, suggests that she also lacks a commitment to US leadership in the global community and to leveraging multinational institutions as a positive force for women and girls.

Among the criteria identified for the next ambassador-at-large, is a commitment to supporting and promoting women’s autonomous decision making over their bodies and their lives. At the UN, Currie represented this administration’s draconian, anti-women policies on a global level, and we have no reason to expect that she would do differently as head of the Office of Global Women’s Issues.

The Trump administration lacks the moral authority to lead on women’s rights. At every turn, President Trump has taken action to undermine human rights, restrict women’s access to health care, and, in particular, control women’s sexual and reproductive lives. Among its attacks, the administration has defunded the UN Population Fund; removed all language on sexual and reproductive health and rights from government websites; and, sought to censor terms such as gender, evidence-based programs, and comprehensive sexuality education. It has also reinstated and expanded the deadly Global Gag Rule—reducing access to health care for women and girls worldwide—appointed ideologues to key positions responsible for women’s health and rights, and advocated for policies that allow providers to deny care based on personal beliefs.

If confirmed, Currie would fill a role previously unoccupied in this administration. In the meantime, she will serve on the US delegation to the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW)—the largest annual gathering on women’s rights—which begins March 11 at UN headquarters in New York. IWHC will continue to advocate for US policies that advance, rather than threaten, women’s rights worldwide, and will seek to hold the administration accountable to global commitments to sexual and reproductive health and rights at CSW.

Contact: Liza Kane-Hartnett; (+1) 917.498.3346

Photo: UN Photo/Manuel Elias