Gender equality is a fundamental human right that is crucial for sustainable development. USAID, the United States Agency for International Development, advances gender equality through its policies, programs, and partnerships. USAID has implemented a range of strategies to promote gender equality, including the following three:
The Women’s Global Development and Prosperity (W-GDP) Initiative
The Women’s Global Development and Prosperity (W-GDP) Initiative was launched in 2019 by the Trump administration to promote women’s economic empowerment globally. The initiative has reached over 12 million women in its first year and aims to reach 50 million women in developing countries before 2025 through various programs, partnerships, and initiatives. W-GDP focuses on three pillars:
- Women Prospering in the Workforce: This pillar aims to support women’s entrepreneurship, increase their access to capital and improve their workforce development skills.
- Women Succeeding as Entrepreneurs: This pillar focuses on supporting women-owned and women-led businesses, improving access to markets and promoting innovation and technology.
- Women Enabled in the Economy: This pillar aims to increase women’s access to financial services and assets and remove legal, regulatory and cultural barriers that hinder women’s economic participation.
W-GDP has already made significant progress toward its goals to advance gender equality. The initiative has launched several innovative programs and initiatives that have helped thousands of women entrepreneurs and business owners in the developing world.
U.S. Strategy on Women, Peace and Security
The U.S. Strategy on Women, Peace and Security (2019) is a comprehensive plan that aims to advance gender equality by promoting women’s participation in peace processes and conflict prevention. The strategy recognizes the importance of women’s leadership and participation in decision-making processes. It seeks to address the unique needs and challenges faced by women and girls in conflict-affected areas. The strategy outlines four main objectives:
- To increase women’s participation in peace negotiations, conflict prevention and resolution.
- To promote women’s protection and access to relief and recovery services in conflict-affected areas.
- To support women’s economic empowerment and access to education and training in conflict-affected areas.
- To improve data collection and monitoring of women’s participation and protection in conflict-affected areas.
During the fiscal year 2021, USAID supported more than 77,000 women’s participation in leadership, legal, political, conflict mediation and peacebuilding processes. Additionally, over 5.3 million gender-based violence survivors received crucial health care, legal aid, economic services and psychosocial support. To support women and girls in countries affected by natural disasters, crisis, violent extremism and conflict, USAID invested more than $243 million in various programs.
Ending Child Marriage and Meeting the Needs of Married Children
This document outlines USAID’s strategy for addressing child marriage and supporting married children. The report recognizes child marriage as a harmful practice that can have devastating consequences for girls, including limited access to education, health care and economic opportunities as well as increased risk of gender-based violence. It is estimated that every year around 10 million girls are married before they turn 18. In developing nations, 1 in 7 girls is married before turning 15 and some child brides are as young as 8 or 9. Orphans and young girls without involved caregivers are especially at risk of early marriage. 1 in 9 girls between the ages of 10 and 14 were coerced into a marriage.
The report outlines several key strategies for ending child marriage and supporting married children:
- Addressing the root causes of child marriage, such as poverty, focusing on approaches that advance gender equality and social norms that devalue girls.
- Increasing access to education and economic opportunities for girls which can help delay marriage and provide alternatives to child marriage.
- Promoting laws and policies that protect girls’ rights and prohibit child marriage.
- Strengthening health systems to provide reproductive health services and support for married children.
- Engaging with communities and religious leaders to shift social norms and attitudes towards child marriage.
Different stakeholders, including governments, civil society organizations and religious leaders must cooperate to address child marriage and support married children. There is a need for data and evidence-based programming to address the issue effectively. The report presents a comprehensive vision for ending child marriage and meeting the needs of married children and provides a roadmap for USAID’s efforts in this area.
USAID’s strategies that advance gender equality demonstrate its commitment to promoting women’s empowerment, reducing gender disparities and improving the lives of women and girls globally. Through its policies, programs and partnerships, USAID strives to create a more just and equitable world where everyone can thrive.
– Nino Basaria