Around the world, women and girls face significant obstacles to their full and equal participation in society.
They 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 2023 Global Gender Gap report, women around the world, on average, are only 68.4% percent of the way to achieving gender parity, and if the current rate of progress holds, it would take 131 years to close this gap.
These trends not only threaten inclusive development, but also peace and security. Studies have shown that the full inclusion of women strengthens economies and enhances efforts to prevent and end conflicts and sustain peace – important U.S. foreign policy objectives. Indeed, countries where women are empowered are more secure in terms of food security, combating violent extremism, and conflict resolution. Women’s participation in peace negotiations makes the outcome 64 percent less likely to fail and 35 percent more likely to last at least 15 years.
“Accelerating progress towards gender parity will not only improve outcomes for women and girls but benefit economies and societies more widely, reviving growth, boosting innovation and increasing resilience.”— Global Gender Gap Report 2023 Hear this quote in context
Continued American leadership is critical to moving the needle on these issues. The State Department and USAID have a well-established history of working to encourage the political and economic empowerment of women and girls, prevent gender-based violence, and engage women in peacebuilding efforts around the world. Numerous opportunities exist to expand on that international leadership today. You can ask your elected representatives in Congress to support a broad range of legislative initiatives to promote gender equity in partner countries, including initiatives to prevent and respond to gender-based violence, increase education access for young girls, and fund the UN Population Fund—which works to improve reproductive and maternal health worldwide.