Representative Ted Yoho
In February, U.S. Representative Ted Yoho (R-FL). proposed an overhaul to foreign aid. This April, with the support of U.S. Representative Adam Smith (D-WA), and Senators Bob Corker (R-TN) and Chris Coons (D-DE), the Better Utilization of Investments Leading to Development Act (BUILD Act) has gained significant momentum.

The International Development Finance Corporation

The BUILD Act, also known as S.2463, aims to consolidate the disparate U.S. agencies currently providing foreign aid into a single, new agency, to be called the International Development Finance Corporation (IDFC). More specifically, there would be a consolidation of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), USAID’s Credit Authority, USAID’s Office of Private Capital and Microenterprise, and USAID’s Enterprise Funds. According to U.S. Representative Yoho, this consolidation would increase efficiency of foreign spending, and promote U.S. security, economic and diplomatic interests abroad.

The proposed agency will also benefit recipients of U.S. foreign aid. More streamlined and efficient spending in the U.S. government will allow for other countries to become stronger trading partners; in doing so, this change would also open new markets, and encourage self-sufficient economic development in communities worldwide. Supporters of the BUILD Act argue that it will help combat humanitarian concerns that plague many developing nations, including poverty, hunger and disease.

In recent weeks the BUILD Act has been publically supported by the Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, U.S. Representative Ed Royce (R-CA), the committee saying that older agencies such as OPIC need to be modernized, and as Americans, not as Democrats or Republicans, will strengthen American foreign aid and make the U.S. competitive.

What is the BUILD Act?

So what exactly does the BUILD Act propose? It gives the new agency, the IDFC, grantmaking capability, the ability to make equity investments, and an increased spending cap. These capabilities increase U.S. foreign aid spending, and encourage the participation of private sector capital to complement development assistance objectives. It is important to note however, that there is a regulation on how much of foreign aid spending can be used to make equity investments.

The text of the bill describes the purpose of the BUILD Act in Section 101 of the bill as, “to mobilize private capital in support of sustainable, broad-based economic growth, poverty reduction, and development through demand-driven partnerships with the private sector that further the foreign policy interests of the United States,” highlighting the benefits of the BUILD Act going both to the U.S. and international aid recipients.

While some are concerned about how the organization will actually take over USAID’s and OPIC’s duties, many are excited by the fact that the creation of the IDFC will create further accountability and cost no money, making it an increasingly appealing bill. While more work needs to be done concerning the transition, oversight on the IDFC will fall to Congress, and external auditors, who will preform regular audits of the organization.

Allied For a Cause

U.S. Representative Adam Smith, a co-sponsor on the initial proposal, announced a press release that reads: “Through our partnerships with friends and allies, we work to raise up local communities – strengthening institutions, combating hunger and disease, and ensuring that development projects have sustainable, long lasting impacts.” Representative Smith identifies how this increased spending on development improves the lives of individuals abroad.

The BUILD Act is gaining momentum in Washington, and purports to improve efficiency and effectiveness of U.S. foreign aid deployment.

– Katherine Kirker
Photo: Flickr

Women’s Entrepreneurship and Economic Empowerment Act
The Women’s Entrepreneurship and Economic Empowerment Act (WEE) of 2018, H.R. 5480, was introduced in the House earlier this month. The House of Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce and Representative Louis Frankle (D-FL-22), 
Co-Chair of the bipartisan Congressional Caucus for Women’s Issues, worked together to propose this bipartisan legislation.

“By confronting these barriers women face, we can help lift people out of poverty and drive economic growth – by some estimates adding trillions of dollars to annual global GDP,” says Chairman Royce.

Introduction to the WEE Bill

The aim of the WEE bill is to improve the status of women worldwide through empowerment and education so that women play a greater role in entrepreneurship. An introduction to the “Women’s Entrepreneurship and Economic Empowerment Act” means that the bill would supplement programs that promote women’s economic roles through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

The “Women’s Entrepreneurship and Economic Empowerment Act” specifically focuses on:

  • Ensuring the reduction of gender disparities including gender-based violence, women’s property rights and economic participation as part of U.S. policy
  • Ensuring that all USAID programs incorporate gender-specific issues in attempts to empower women
  • Advocating for small and medium-sized enterprises that are owned, controlled or managed by women
  • Increasing women’s use and jurisdiction over resources such as land and financial inclusion

It’s no secret that the majority of the world’s poor are women. According to the U.N. Women Deputy Executive Director, Lakshmi Puri, If women and men have the equal access to land, technology, financial services, education and markets, the consequent 20-30 percent increase in agricultural production on women’s farms could lead to 100-150 million less hungry people.”

U.N. Women and Women Everywhere

The Borgen Project’s main goal is to eliminate global poverty; nevertheless, the facts cannot be ignored that when women play a greater role in the economy, it brings innumerable benefits to the nation and the world as a whole. According to U.N. Women, by increasing female labor force participation, education, shared household income, and women’s overall participation in the economic world, it would bring exponential benefits to the country as a whole.

Not only would economic empowerment bring millions of families out of poverty, child mortality would decrease and economies grow faster. Finally, the Mckinsey Global Institute study proposes that “closing gender gaps in labour-force participation rates, part-time versus full-time work and the composition of employment would add 12-25 percent to global GDP by 2025.”

An introduction to the “Women’s Entrepreneurship and Economic Empowerment Act” understands the obstacles when empowering women’s economic standing. The bill symbolizes a step in the right direction for U.S. efforts to help eliminate global poverty.

– Emma Martin

Photo: Flickr

digital gap act
The Digital Global Access Policy (GAP) Act was passed in the House of Representatives on January 24, 2017. This bill is a vital step in reducing global poverty in developing nations, creating more interconnectedness between people and nations and saving millions of lives.

Currently, nearly 60 percent of the world’s 7.6 billion people remain offline. In this increasingly global society, access to the internet is becoming a necessary service alongside electricity and running water. Developing nations and governments need internet access to connect systems, provide services to residents and lift themselves out of poverty to participate in global markets.

The Digital GAP Act, introduced by Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), had overwhelming bipartisan support in the House. On its way to the Senate, the bill will bring mobile or broadband internet access to 1.5 billion people for the first time. The passing of the Digital GAP Act will spur economic growth in developing nations, save millions of lives through increasing global health and crisis response and fight to bring more women online in the fight for global equality and human rights.

Economic Benefits of the Digital GAP Act

Closing the digital divide would boost global commerce by billions of dollars. Providing internet access to communities will increase thhe earning potential of individuals and communities, allowing for more prosperous people.

The availability of internet means emerging markets in need of data plans. The new sales of platforms and data plans open up a market opportunity worth $50 to $70 billion. Furthermore, the addition of internet access to disadvantaged communities will allow companies and businesses to invest in the area. The creation and attraction of local and foreign businesses to establish themselves within communities previously without internet access will drum up industry and increase economic growth and opportunity.

The More Women Online, the More Prosperity

On the House floor, prior to the vote which passed the Digital GAP Act, Rep. Chairman Ed Royce highlighted the way women are disproportionately affected by the digital gap and the importance to bringing more women online. “[Women are] …serving as the principal consumers, caregivers, educators, peacemakers and income-earners across the developing world. Bringing women online will not only deepen the benefit of existing investments in governance and global health, it will accelerate economic growth,” Rep. Royce said.

Intel Corporation argues that bringing even just 150 million more women online has immense benefits for the women themselves, their families and their communities. Seeing another 600 million women online would contribute an estimated $13 to $18 billion to the annual GDP across 144 developing countries.

Providing internet access to more women would expand opportunities as 180 million women would see improved abilities to generate income for themselves and their families. Passing the Digital GAP Act would see nearly 500 million women able to improve their education and see greater freedom and connectivity to the public sphere as a result of being online.

Increasing Global Health and Crisis Response Saves Lives

In 2014, the Ebola virus claimed over 11,000 lives, with Liberia suffering the worst. Liberia, without reliable internet access, saw community health centers struggle to coordinate efforts to save lives. With 60 percent of the world left out of the technological revolution, there is a lack of coordination, communication and response to global health crises. The lack of internet access resulted in more deaths from Ebola.

Today, many communities struggle with the Zika virus, which disproportionately affects women and infants. Without internet access, communities are unable to track the virus. This means individuals in communities affected by the virus will remain completely unaware of its presence until it is too late. This allows the virus to spread over borders with more ease.

Not only does the addition of internet access increase crisis response capacity, but it also increases education surrounding global health. With access to information about disease, sanitation and general health and well-being, communities have more tools to prevent health crises. In rural areas where clinics may be expensive or difficult to travel to, access to health advice and knowledge about ailments can allow communities to make better decisions regarding global health.

Passed in the House and on its way to the Senate, the Digital GAP Act can save lives, spur economic growth and opportunity and achieve gender equality. Now more than ever, it is important to support poverty reducing legislation that will make a difference in millions of lives.

– Kelilani Johnson

Photo: Flickr

Literacy education
The Reinforcing Education Accountability in Development (READ) Act helps promote global literacy education, which aids in protecting children from human traffickers, reducing the number of people who get indoctrinated by terrorist groups and decreasing the rate of violent crimes in an area.

The READ Act was ratified in the House of Representatives by mobilizing people to contact their congressional representatives, and is now one of the many laws The Borgen Project strives to get passed into law.

Literacy has been shown to reduce violent criminal behavior.

Literate people who have an education are much less likely to engage in violent and destructive behaviors than people who are illiterate. Media literacy is an important tool that can be used to prevent disenfranchised people from adopting violent ideological beliefs.

Statistics show that people who are even functionally literate (reading at the first-grade level) are less likely to turn to violence than people who do not know how to read. Thus, education is a powerful tool to end the cycle of violence.

Lack of access to schools hinders literacy education in impoverished areas.

Many people who live in impoverished countries cannot afford to send their children to school; this problem is magnified in counties that have more then one spoken language.

The odds that the language that the child speaks at home will differ from the language that is taught in the school system is very high, so these situations can lead to a child becoming literate in one language but unable to communicate with the people in his or her local village.

Literacy education can lead to improved productivity and quality of life.

Having a population of literate workers can increase long-term economic growth by over 3.5 percent and can increase the per capita income of the people who live in an improvised area by at least 6 percent. Another benefit of literacy is the ability to critically analyze medical advice to ensure that people understand the risks inherent in any medical procedure.

Uneducated children are at risk of radicalization.

Terror groups tend to recruit children who are not in school, and some terror groups offer to educate the children so that they can indoctrinate the children with violent ideological messages. The READ Act helps to ensure that children are able to have access to an education without getting a message from a terrorist group as part of their education.

Edward Everett summarizes the power of education with the quote: “Education is a better safeguard of liberty than a standing army.” Providing literary education to impoverished areas is less costly, both on the financial level and in terms of human lives, than sending in soldiers to deal with terrorists.

The READ Act is just one of many policies that The Borgen Project has helped pass into law. Literacy is an important tool that can be used to improve the living conditions in impoverished areas, and the READ Act helps ensure that people who live in third-world countries have access to the benefits offered by literacy.

– Michael Israel

Photo: Flickr

Food For Peace Modernization Act
On March 14, the Food For Peace Modernization Act (H.R. 5276) 
was introduced on the House floor. Though this bill has not received much attention from the media, it is an important piece of legislation that could have a drastic impact on global food insecurity if passed.

The Food For Peace Modernization Act

The Food For Peace Modernization Act is a bipartisan bill introduced by Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) and Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) in an effort to reform the Food For Peace program, which was originally signed into law by President Eisenhower in 1954. The goal of the program is to deliver healthy food to people all over the world who suffer from malnutrition.

Since its creation, the Food For Peace program has provided aid to over 3 billion people and is widely considered a success; however, lawmakers now address that the effort hasn’t yet reached its full potential.

As it currently stands, the law requires that all food used for foreign assistance purposes has to be produced in the U.S. While this may sound like a good way to promote American farming, it is an extreme burden for the Food For Peace program. Due to the costs incurred by transporting all of the food overseas, only 30 percent of the program’s funds are spent on actual food.

The Food For Peace Modernization act seeks to change this aspect of the law. Instead of requiring 100 percent of food products to be made in the U.S., the revised version of the bill drops this number to just 25 percent. This would mean that the majority of food can be derived from within the countries the program is trying to assist.

The Monetization System

Another part of the law the Food For Peace Modernization Act hopes to alter is the “monetization” system. Currently, NGOs are required to take food which was donated to them by the U.S., sell it in overseas markets, and use the profits to fund their food insecurity programs. However, this process often negatively affects the communities in which the food is sold because it forces local farmers to drive down their prices in order to compete. The new version of the bill (S. 2551) would eliminate this requirement.

Not only will these revisions allow more money to be spent on actually feeding the hungry, it may also boost the economies of the local food markets in impoverished countries and ultimately decrease their dependence on U.S. assistance — all at no extra cost to the American taxpayers.

Overall the hope is that, if passed, the bill will redirect the focus of the Food For Peace program to be on the people who need assistance, rather than the business ventures of U.S. corporations.

Representative Ed Royce (R-CA-39) captured this sentiment in a statement to the House Foreign Affairs Committee stating, “Just as aid can’t be an entitlement for those overseas, it shouldn’t be an entitlement here at home. This includes food aid, which for too long has been treated as an entitlement for a handful of shipping companies rather than as a humanitarian program meant to save lives.”

– Maddi Roy

Photo: Flickr

International Violence Against Women Act

On Feb. 15, 2018, Representative Janice Schakowsky of Illinois introduced the International Violence Against Women Act of 2018 to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. The overarching goal of the bill is to stop violence against women, with a focus on women in other countries, particularly those who live in poverty.

Why the Bill is Necessary

The bill provides several alarming statistics to show that poverty and violence against women are closely intertwined, such as the fact that one out of three women around the world will face violence and abuse in her lifetime. Also, around 70 percent of women in other countries have said they have personally experienced gender-based violence in their life.

Violence, particularly sexual abuse toward adolescents and pre-adolescents, is significantly prevalent. Surveys in Swaziland, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Kenya and Haiti showed that, on average, 28 to 38 percent of young girls and 9 to 18 percent of young boys said they had experienced sexual abuse before they were 18 years of age. Forced marriage of child brides is expected to occur to around 140,000,000 girls between 2011 and 2020. Furthermore, female genital mutilation/cutting has affected around 125,000,000 young girls and women alive today.

The Connection Between Violence and Poverty

However, these distressing statistics do not demonstrate the connection that exists between these forms of violence and poverty. The International Violence Against Women Act further notes that violence against women generally prevents women from engaging in their communities socially, economically and politically.

To be clear, the bill states that economies are affected because, around the world, women are often stuck working low-paying, insecure jobs where they are unable to have basic workers’ rights such as safe reporting systems, access to justice and legal and medical services. The subsequent lack of these rights and resources forces women in poverty to use dangerous methods in order to provide for themselves and their families, which often leads to them experiencing violence and abuse.

Furthermore, violence impacts a woman’s ability to work efficiently and be productive in the workplace and at home, which can hinder food production. As a result, this decreases food security and has the potential risk of subjecting women to more violence. The International Violence Against Women Act noted that research in India, Colombia, South Africa and Uganda found that women who have greater economic power and more control over economic assets are less likely to experience violence.

Strategies of the Bill

The bill aims to end violence against women in multiple ways. First, the bill will work through the continued implementation and monitoring of the United States Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Gender-Based Violence Globally. This strategy was originally passed into law by President Obama in 2012 and was last updated in 2016. The strategy works in three ways:

  1. Prevention of gender-based violence through working closely with a country’s local organizations and civil society, which includes educating men about violence toward women.
  2. Protection for victims of violence by providing related services.
  3. Accountability to create justice for victims and improving legal and judicial systems so that aggressors face consequences for their crimes.

The second strategy described in the International Violence Against Women Act is adding amendments to The Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, a law that affirms the U.S.’s goal of helping developing countries achieve security and stable economies. The bill adds amendments that specifically include gender-based violence into the law.

Lastly, the bill seeks the creation of the Office of Global Women’s Issues, to be added as a subset to the existing Secretary of State’s office in the Department of State. The role of the Office of Global Women’s Issues will be to generally promote gender equality and ensure that the status of women and girls around the world remains included in U.S. foreign policy.

– Jennifer Jones

Photo: Google

Global Food Security Reauthorization Act of 2018 Introduced to House Committee on Foreign Affairs
On February 27th 2018, Representative Chris Smith introduced a bill to reauthorize the Global Food Security Act for four years from 2018 through 2021.

The Original Law

The original Global Food Security Act, also introduced by Rep. Chris Smith, became a law in 2016. The law only lasted a year, and has since encountered difficulty being reintroduced.

The law sought to outline a clear approach for the United States’ foreign assistance, so that its role was not just to increase food security in developing countries (as the name of the bill suggests), but to also provide economic growth through sustainable agricultural means, increase nutrition and resilience, help women and children particularly to receive that nutrition and fight against hunger and poverty in general.

The bill became law in 2016 under then-President Obama, who said of the law at the White House Summit on Global Development: “No society can flourish, children can’t flourish if they’re going hungry. We can’t ask a child to feed her mind when she can barely feed her stomach.”

Senator Robert P. Casey Jr. attempted to reintroduce the law in 2017. The law was read twice and referred to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations in December of that year, but never made it to a vote.

New Changes

Rep. Chris Smith’s Global Food Security Reauthorization Act of 2018 would add several amendments to the old law. The first change would be to one of the goals in the Statement of Policy Objectives. The new objective focuses on providing adequate nutrition to women and children, and increasing maternal and child health.

Aside from the goal of improving nutrition and encouraging more diverse diets, the 2018 version of the act would add a new emphasis on deworming programs. The second amendment includes The Inter-American Foundation in the list of relevant federal departments and agencies for the Global Food Security Reauthorization Act.

The last three changes update the language of the bill so that the act will extend from September of 2018 through 2021.

Foreign Assistance Act of 1961

Another addition to the Global Food Security Reauthorization Act of 2018 is that it amends the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 to reflect the extension of the years to 2021.

The Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 is a law that was originally signed by President John F. Kennedy in November of that same year. Its goal was to promote the United States’ general welfare, security and foreign policy through helping developing countries achieve security and a stable economy.

The Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 and the Global Food Security Reauthorization Act of 2018 are both important not just for the benefit of developing countries, but also for achieving the best national security interest for the U.S. The original 2016 act states that helping developing countries by encouraging economic growth based on agriculture is an important step to end global poverty and hunger.

So far, the Global Food Security Reauthorization Act of 2018 has been referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. To help get this bill signed into law, you can use the Borgen Project’s website to contact your representative and encourage them to support it.

– Jennifer Jones

Photo: Flickr

What is the Current State of Poverty in Haiti?

Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and one of the most poverty-stricken countries in the developing world. Despite this, the Trump Administration is abruptly ending the Temporary Protected Status for Haitians. The humanitarian program allowed about 59,000 Haitians to live and work in the U.S. since the 2010 earthquake which killed 150,000 people.

Haitians will be expected to leave the U.S. by July 2019 or face deportation. This is devastating news for Haitians who earn money in the U.S. to send to their families and for those receiving an education.

Poverty in Haiti

According to the World Bank, life expectancy for Haitians is only 57 years. Less than half of the population is literate and only about one child in five of secondary-school age actually attends secondary school.

Health conditions are poor and about one-fourth of the population has access to safe water. The population continues to grow at a high rate, estimated at almost 200,000 people per year, with the overwhelming majority living in extreme poverty.

Key factors of poverty in Haiti include political instability, inadequate growth in private investment, underinvestment in human capital, and poverty traps including environmental degradation, crime, systematic human rights violations, and outward migration.

Steps to be taken

  1. Strengthen essential public sector institutions, improve coordination and consultation within government, and re-establish and consolidate political stability.
  2. Strengthen macroeconomic stability and reduce distortions in order to encourage private sector investment and increase productivity.
  3. Improve the quality of government spending, invest in the provision of basic human needs, and raise the level of human capital.
  4. Ration the assistance provided by external donors.

There is clearly a lot of work to be done, but instead of abandoning Haitians when they need help the most, the U.S. needs to directly help with overturning their situation of dire poverty.

– Julia Lee

Photo: Flickr

The Link Between Poverty and EpidemicsOn Jan. 18, 2018, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation to continue funding for H.R. 1660, or the Global Health Innovation Act, with an overwhelming vote of 423-3. The Global Health Innovation Act will support the progress of health innovations for USAID, the top U.S. government agency that works to end global poverty.

According to the original bill H.R. 2241, nearly nine million people die per year due to diseases and health conditions, many of which are preventable. USAID’s goal is to lower this statistic as much as possible and create democratic governments within underdeveloped societies.

The Global Health Innovation Act was reintroduced by Democratic Representative Albio Sires and other U.S. Representatives on March 21, 2017. Republican U.S. Representative of Florida Mario Diaz-Balart stated in a press release, “I am proud to reintroduce this critical piece of legislation with my friend, Rep. Albio Sires. It is more important than ever that the United States invest in global health and continue to deliver state-of-the-art medical devices and technologies.”

The Global Health Innovation Act will cost an estimated $500,000 or less from 2018-2022. This estimated amount by the Congressional Budget Office is subject to the availability of funds during each fiscal year. The bill would require USAID to track and report four annual updates to Congress of the developed health innovations and programs implemented.

These annual reports would track the extent to which health innovations have advanced, how progress is being measured and how these innovations are reaching set goals. The reports will also describe drugs, devices, vaccines, medical devices and technologies which are funded by the act. This detail is included to guarantee U.S. tax dollars are being spent in a logical and effective manner.

What work does USAID do?

USAID works toward sustainable global health by prioritizing three major goals: preventing child and mother deaths, controlling the HIV and AIDs epidemic and fighting infectious diseases. The overall goal of USAID is to improve health globally by bringing attainable medical innovations to impoverished countries in order to build better health systems. Through donors and partners, USAID has been working toward these goals and the Global Health Innovation Act will help bring these goals to reality.

Who is rallying for the Global Health Innovation Act?

U.S. Democratic Representatives Gerald Connolly (VA), Eliot Engel (NY), Brad Sherman (CA), David Cicilline (RI) and William Keating (WA) cosponsored the H.R. 1660 bill on March 21, 2017. Slowly, more Democratic Representatives joined them, including Suzan DelBene (WA), Joyce Beatty (OH), Nydia Velazquez (NY), Zoe Lofgren (CA), Ted Lieu (CA) and Timothy Walz (MN). Now that the bill has passed in the House of Representatives, it is important to continue rallying for its success as it still must pass in the Senate and be signed by President Trump.

How does it benefit the U.S.?

Global health is an important humanitarian concern as well as a business investment. Investing in global health creates new jobs and economic growth. According to Congressman Sires, between 2007 and 2015 global health investments generated $33 billion and 200,000 jobs. Investing in global health research and development has already impacted the U.S. with new health technologies. H.R. 1660 will continue to open doors for not only global health but also for the U.S. economy and technology.

What can be done to mobilize Congress?

Constituents across the U.S. can rally in support of the Global Health Innovation Act by calling or emailing Congress through a very simple process. Find the contact information for the appropriate Representatives here and Senators here. The Borgen Project has also provided a helpful tool to send emails through a template to Congress, which can be found here.

Contacting U.S. Senators and Representatives is effective because Congress staffers take a tally of every issue that constituents reach out for. This small bit of activism keeps important bills on the radar for Congressional leaders and can make a significant difference in a bill’s success. Even the smallest efforts can help create global change for people facing poverty.

– Courtney Hambrecht

Photo: Flickr

House Passes the Women, Peace, and Security Act

The Women, Peace, and Security Act (S. 1141) became a public law at the beginning of October 2017. The purpose of the bill is to ensure that women play meaningful roles in diplomacy and leadership, especially in regions of violent conflict.

The bill recognizes the importance of women as peacemakers in their communities and the power they have in promoting inclusive, democratic societies. If signed into law, this bipartisan legislation would establish gender equality as a priority in U.S. foreign policy.

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) first introduced the bill to the Senate in May. It then passed the Senate body without amendment in early August. The bill is the Senate-companion bill to H.R. 2484, which passed the House earlier this session.

The Women, Peace, and Security Act is really a culmination of years of bipartisan work throughout the course of several administrations. Versions of this bill have been presented in past sessions; in fact, a hallmark of the Obama administration’s foreign policy was the implementation of the National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security. Like the S. 1141, the executive order was established to promote global gender integration as a means of conflict prevention and peace-building.

A wealth of research demonstrates the successful outcomes gleaned from the participation of women in leadership roles. Women in conflict-affected areas have been shown to be effective in combatting violent extremism, countering terrorism and resolving disputes through nonviolent negotiation. Furthermore, the presence of women in government is critical in the creation of sustainable, democratic policies in post-conflict relief scenarios.

When women are invited to participate in decision-making, the whole community is elevated. Studies suggest a positive correlation between a country’s gender equality and the strength of its economy. Thus, not only would women in leadership promote global security, but it would also fight poverty.

Representative Eliot L. Engel, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, stands firmly behind the Women, Peace, and Security Act. He is concerned, however, about the current foreign aid budget. The new budget would see funding reduced by more than one third.

He said of the proposed cuts, “The Administration’s budget proposal would slash funding for diplomacy and development to dangerous levels, and a current redesign effort at the State Department might strip out initiatives like women, peace, and security. I hope that won’t happen.”

Indeed, with mounting evidence to verify the importance of female leaders, programs that endorse the progress of women cannot afford to be forgotten in a time of such global upheaval. Were this bill to pass into law, it would reaffirm the United States’ stance on gender equality. Furthermore, it would pave the way for comprehensive global policies that sustain peace and economic security.

Micaela Fischer
Photo: Flickr