Despite countless awareness campaigns and educational drives, workplace sexism and sexual harassment remains some of the most pressing issues faced by women all across the world — including the United States.
Somehow, regardless of its importance, this topic is rarely addressed during big business forums. In fact, it probably would have gone unnoticed at the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, if it weren’t for U.S. Vice President Joe Biden.
“None of this matters if a woman is not safe: safe in her workplace, safe in her home, safe on the street. It’s a basic human right — the right to be safe,” Biden stated at the event co-hosted by The Huffington Post and 10,000 Women Initiative, which supports female entrepreneurs in developing countries. “You have to get to the point where you give them the freedom to be secure.”
Addressing the world’s biggest political and business leaders, the 73-year-old Democrat cited his work towards ending domestic violence — particularly the Violence Against Women Act he supported in the Senate and considers “the proudest thing” he has ever done.
“When a woman is raped, when a woman is abused, the first thing other women ask is what did you do? Why were you there? What were you wearing?" Biden added. “Folks, all the opportunity and entrepreneurship in the world is good. But ultimately, starting in this country, we have to change the culture. And we’re not going to change that culture until not a single woman who is abused ever asks herself: 'What did I do?'”
Although he also commended the executives and politicians for creating economic opportunities for women — hailing it as the “exponential change” in recent decades — he said that women still face discrimination and violence in their work environment.
If world leaders really want economic progress, it really is substantial that they stop overlooking this abuse and make women feel more secure.