THE BACKGROUND

Historically women have had fewer opportunities for economic participation, restricted access to education, increased health and safety risks, and less political representation than their male counterparts. They are more likely to be the victims of gender-based violence such as sexual assault, domestic, financial, physical, and economic abuse; forced marriage and child marriage; and human trafficking.

While much has been done to combat gender inequality, according to the 2018 Global Gender Gap report, women around the world, on average, are only 68% of the way to achieving gender parity.

Education is one of the key drivers to gender parity. Girls who are able to go to school are more likely to grow up to be healthier, earn higher incomes and participate more in the formal labor market, to marry later in life, as well as have few children and healthier children. While education has the potential to reduce many of the drivers of gender inequality, barriers like violence and poverty often limit girls’ access to education. This gap is closing however, the 2018 Global Gender Gap report found that the gender gap for education is now at 5% and is projected to be closed in the next 14 years.

Growing evidence suggests that women’s advancement plays a crucial role in increasing global stability. Research also shows a link between inequality and terrorism. Countries where women are empowered are more secure in terms of food security, combating violent extremism, and conflict resolution. States with higher levels of gender equality are less likely to resort to violent means to settle disputes. Women’s participation in peace negotiations makes them 64% less likely to fail and 35% more likely to last at least fifteen years.

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In 2012, USAID implemented a bold Gender Equality and Female Empowerment policy with the goal of achieving three outcomes (1) to reduce gender disparities in access to, control over and benefit from resources, wealth, opportunities and services ­ economic, social, political, and cultural; (2) to reduce gender-­based violence and mitigate its harmful effects on individuals and communities; and (3) to increase capability of women and girls to realize their rights, determine their life outcomes, and influence decision ­making in households, communities, and societies. However, a 2016 implementation report found that USAID did not have the time or financial resources to fully integrate gender within the policy cycle.

The December 2017 National Security Strategy, reiterated the country’s commitment, “support efforts to advance women’s equality, protect the rights of women and girls, and promote women and youth empowerment programs”, but does not propose any concrete measures in order to carry out this commitment or acknowledge the links between women’s empowerment and national security and women’s role in peace-building efforts.

THE LATEST

In October of 2017, President Trump signed the Women, Peace, and Security Act of 2017, and was required to submit a public Women, Peace, and Security Strategy that would be to be implemented in collaboration with agencies like the Office of Global Women’s Issues by October 2018. As of April 2019, no strategy has been proposed or implemented.

In February 2019, the White House launched the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative led by First Daughter and senior advisor to the president Ivanka Trump. The program has a goal of achieving economic security for 50 million women across the world by 2025. The program received $50 million in funding from USAID as well as partnerships with private companies such as Walmart and UPS. President Trump requested an additional $100 million for this initiative in his FY 2020 budget, which is the only gender equality related request in the President’s in the FY 2020 International Affairs budget.

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

Last Congress, Senator Shaheen and Congresswoman Schakowsky introduced the International Violence Against Women Act. Call them today at (202) 224-3121 to ask them to reintroduce this important piece of legislation and encourage your representative and senators to support legislation that works to end violence against women and girls globally. Be sure to mention:

  • Violence against women and girls harms millions of women and girls globally, it knows no national or cultural barriers and it must end.

  • 1 out of 3 women will experience violence or abuse during their lifetime and that this violence is a violation of their human rights and is a barrier to solving global challenges.

  • This bill elevates the issues of gender-based violence and women's empowerment at the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development and requires the U.S. government to implement a long-term comprehensive strategy to prevent and respond to gender-based violence.

RESOURCES