Geeta Rao Gupta, PhD was confirmed by the US Senate on May 10, 2023, in a largely partisan vote of 51-47m, nearly one and a half years since she was nominated by President Joe Biden. She will now assume her role as Ambassador at Large for Global Women’s Issues at the U.S. State Department.
Rao Gupta was nominated on Nov. 12, 2021, to head the State Department’s Office of Global Women’s Issues which was set up in 2009, to ensure US foreign policy integrated women’s development issues.
The Ambassador at Large for Global Women’s Issues works closely with the White House, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the Department of Defense and other agencies, civil society organizations, and the private sector to advance gender equity in the U.S. and globally.
United States Senator Jeanne Shaheen, D-New Hampshire, who has been a strong supporter of Rao Gupta’s nomination, noted how the confirmation of the Indian American nominee had stalled.
“The Ambassador at Large for Global Women’s Issues will lead our efforts to support women and girls in some of the most precarious situations in the world. Once confirmed, Dr. Gupta will work to support Afghan women who courageously risk their lives to fight for their hard-won rights, ensure justice for Ukrainian women assaulted by invading Russian forces and defend Sudanese women who face gender-based violence as the situation in their country deteriorates.
And those are only a handful of examples of the immense responsibilities that this position is tasked with,” Shaheen said on the Senate floor, May 4, a week before the actual confirmation on. “Despite a great deal of partisan obstruction, this nomination is finally moving forward. I appreciate the support from the few Republican lawmakers who put our national security over party politics to help advance this urgently needed nomination. Dr. Gupta is immensely qualified, and I am sure she will serve admirably.”
Women for Women International, in a statement May 15, said it welcomed Rao Gupta’s confirmation by the US Senate. “The Ambassador-at-Large is the highest-ranking official dedicated to advancing gender equity in the U.S. and globally,” it noted. “At a time when global conflicts and crises are on the rise and human rights -and especially women’s and girls’ rights – are being rolled back within the U.S. and across the globe, this role is more necessary than ever and we welcome Dr. Gupta’s leadership and expertise as she takes it on.”
A Senior Fellow at the United Nations Foundation and President of the International Center for Research on Women, ICRW, for 20 years, Rao Gupta has spent her career on development of women’s agendas for various multilateral agencies, philanthropies, and other organizations and communities.
Rao Gupta ran the Women Studies Program at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, and also served as Senior Fellow for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, later becoming the Deputy Executive Director at UNICEF, and Executive Director of the UN Foundation’s 3D Program for Girls and Women.
Born in Bombay, Rao Gupta is a graduate of Bangalore University’s doctoral psychology program, and has a master’s degree in philosophy and a master of arts from Delhi University.