Around the world, we have seen how even modest investments in the abilities and potential of women and girls can yield transformative results not just for women and girls themselves, but for their families and communities. The Office of Global Women’s Issues works (S/GWI) across the U.S. government, including with diplomatic missions, overseas to identify organizations in countries around the world that are striving to meet the critical needs of women and girls, and boost their economic, political, and social status.
S/GWI advances U.S. security, prosperity, and interests by ensuring that women and girls are included in the formulation and conduct of U.S. foreign policy. Our programs catalyze gender equality work across the Department and in public-private partnerships, while creating models for implementing programs that advance the status of women and girls with U.S. foreign policy goals and American values. In addition to region and country-specific activities, S/GWI supports a number of global initiatives to advance gender equality and empower women and girls.
The Alliance for Artisan Enterprise
The Alliance for Artisan Enterprise is a public-private partnership with the U.S. Department of State and the Aspen Institute. It brings together artisan businesses, artisan support organizations, corporations, foundations, government and multilateral agencies, and individuals working to support the full potential of artisan enterprise around the world. The Alliance leverages the collective strength of its members to break down barriers commonly faced in the artisan sector.
Recently, the Alliance launched the Artisan Innovation Workshop, a tool that brings together stakeholders to address barriers artisans face in the process to source, create and bring products to market. By bringing together stakeholders from across the value chain, this model creates the kind of collaboration and creativity that we need to find real, tangible solutions for local artisan businesses.
The tool will also drive change on a broader level. Since much of the artisan activity takes place in the informal economy, data on the nature and productivity of this sector is limited. The workshops will allow us to collect data, identify gaps and trends, and then develop an informed response to address the critical needs of those working in the field. Through this tool, we’ll start to see some of the bigger trends, which will allow the U.S. government, along with the Alliance, to bring our full weight to bear in finding solutions.
Voices Against Violence Consortium: The Gender Based Violence Initiative (VAV)
The Gender Based Violence Initiative (VAV) is an S/GWI and DRL Public-Private Partnership, led by the Avon Foundation. The VAV provides emergency assistance, including medical, livelihood, and legal services, to survivors of the worst forms of GBV. Through the Avon Foundation, the VAV provides justice trainings to provide further protection to victims. The VAV provides a new approach to combating gender-based violence, especially in areas of conflict, including engaging men and boys as partners. The VAV was launched by Deputy Secretary of State Sullivan in December 2017.
Women Entrepreneurship Finance Initiative Facility (We-Fi)
The United States is committed to increasing women’s economic empowerment through investment, financing, and global economic partnerships. The USG supported We-Fi with $50 million, and with international partners has galvanized more than $346 million to advance women’s entrepreneurship around the globe. The White House initiated We-Fi, a new multi-donor facility, which was launched at the G20 Summit in 2017. We-Fi aims to engage private sector finance and catalyze increased lending and investment for women’s businesses. We-Fi combines that with complementary technical assistance, such as skills enhancements and market access, to enable women-owned and women-led small and medium enterprises to thrive.
Women Empowered – Realizing Inclusive & Sustainable Economies (WE RISE) is a women’s economic empowerment initiative. To account for the deeply interconnected nature of women’s experiences, WE RISE programs employ approaches that are highly collaborative, integrated, multidisciplinary, and inclusive, addressing women’s economic empowerment in the context of legal and practical barriers such as gender-based violence, conflict, and insecurity. WE RISE has three central goals: (1) Strengthen the capacity of civil society organizations to support women’s economic empowerment; (2) Provide women with the resources they need to succeed as equal and active participants in the global economy; (3) Engage in collaborative research and learning to build a body of evidence on relevant promising practices. WE RISE’s pilot strategic initiative, Reducing Barriers to Women’s Economic Empowerment in El Salvador and Honduras, was launched in 2018.
Asian University for Women
With S/GWI support, the Asian University for Women is aiming to produce the next generation of women leaders for Asia and the Middle East by providing a liberal arts, sciences, and sports education to women of great potential who would otherwise have few opportunities, accomplished by providing scholarships for young female students from conflict zones across specific countries in those regions to attend AUW’s four-year undergraduate program.
Afghan Women Leadership Initiative
The Afghan Women Leadership Initiative (AWLI) is a United States government program aimed at empowering Afghan women and girls to fully participate in their communities. The initiative promotes women in the economy, increases young women’s access to education, invests in adolescent girls to delay marriage, trains women survivors of gender-based violence, and helps women’s shelters become financially sustainable.
Providing Women Safe Spaces and Livelihood Training
AWLI supports women’s protection centers that provide safe spaces for women escaping dangerous or violent situations. The initiative offers vocational training that ranges from baking and restaurant management to financial literacy and mentorship. The trainings prepare women for the workforce while also generating income for the centers.
Promoting Women in the Economy
Changing business environments takes time. That is why AWLI offers Afghan women courses on how to market their goods or services and empowers them to be a part of the economy. The initiative also works towards long-term, national-level change through projects that give businesswomen a platform to raise their concerns to policymakers in Afghanistan.
Investing in Adolescent Girls and Young Women
AWLI has programs that address early and forced marriage, including a campaign that highlights the negative health, economic, and social consequences of this practice for girls, their families and communities. The initiative offers life-skills training to young girls to help them build leadership skills and know their rights.