Sidebar on Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment

Bureau of Resource Management
February 24, 2012

"If we decide - as societies, governments and businesses - to invest in women and girls, we will strengthen our efforts to fight poverty, drive development and spread stability. When women thrive, families, communities and countries thrive - and the world becomes more peaceful and prosperous."

- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
on Empowering Women Helps World Growth, March 8, 2011

Gender equality and female empowerment are essential to effective and sustainable development outcomes. A growing body of research demonstrates that societies with greater gender equality experience faster economic growth and benefit from greater agricultural productivity and improved food security. Empowering women to participate in and lead public and private institutions makes them more representative and effective. Increasing girls' and women's education and access to resources improves health and education for the next generation. Promoting women's participation in conflict prevention, management, and resolution activities, as well as in post conflict relief and recovery efforts, helps to advance peace, national security, economic and social development, and international cooperation.

Over the last year, USAID and the Department of State have worked closely together, as well as with interagency partners, to further advance women's economic, political, and social empowerment globally. These efforts are yielding concrete results. For example, the Department of State and USAID collaborated with the White House and Department of Defense to produce the first ever U.S. National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security, in recognition of women's important role as peace builders and guarantors of security.

The Feed the Future initiative developed an enhanced monitoring and evaluation system that will comprehensively track the impact of our work on women and girls using a newly designed women's empowerment index that USAID created in collaboration with the International Food Policy and Research Institute and the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative. A key component of the U.S. Global Health Initiative is the Women, Girls, and Gender Equality (WGGE) Principle, which seeks to understand gender roles and their impact on health, to address gender imbalances related to health, to promote the empowerment of women and girls, and to improve health outcomes for individuals, families and communities. In April 2011, the Department of State and USAID released the WGGE Principle Supplemental Guidance to help countries incorporate the principle into their strategies.

USAID expanded funding to support women's leadership in a range of sectors. U.S. Government funds are supporting women's direct participation in peace negotiations, humanitarian and post-conflict donor conferences, and government and political transitions. These funds also are being used to expand women's leadership in the mobile phone industry, increase women's leadership of small and medium-sized enterprises, and increase the extent to which higher education programs cultivate women leaders in business, academe, research and other fields. Funds will also be used to help strengthen the skills and capacity of women members of legislatures, support the creation of a South Asian female parliamentarians network, and support the Inter-Parliamentary Union's work tracking and studying the impact of women in government around the world. Women's leadership components are also being added to programs that combat gender-based violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

For further information about new and innovative efforts to address women's and girl's issues, visit the Department of State's Office of Global Women's Issues website and USAID's Office of Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment website.