Women’s meaningful economic participation is integral to achieving greater security and stability around the world. When women are empowered economically, they invest in their families and communities, spurring economic growth and creating more stable societies.
Accelerating women’s economic empowerment is critical to ensuring developing countries can achieve economic self-reliance and transition from being aid partners to trade partners.
The Women’s Global Development and Prosperity (W-GDP) Initiative is the first-ever whole-of-government approach to women’s economic empowerment. Through W-GDP, the United States seeks to reach 50 million women across the developing world by 2025. In the first year of the Initiative alone, 12 million women were reached through United States Government programs and partnerships.
W-GDP focuses on three pillars – providing vocational training for women; empowering women to succeed as entrepreneurs; and eliminating legal and societal barriers that prevent women from fully participating in the economy. Under the leadership of the White House, the State Department serves as the lead coordinating agency for W-GDP, and a W-GDP Unit has been established within the Secretary’s Office of Global Women’s Issues to support the Initiative.
This mandate is consistent with W-GDP’s legal and policy reforms under the Initiative’s Pillar III. Women often face institutional barriers to entering the economic marketplace. Globally, 90 economies still have laws preventing women from working in specific jobs.
The State Department is uniquely positioned to elevate women’s economic empowerment across our diplomatic engagements, reinforcing the United States Government’s foreign assistance programs and partnerships, including:
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 $354 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, and which supports the White House-led Women’s Global Development and Prosperity (W-GDP) Initiative. 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, and supports the White House-led Women’s Global Development and Prosperity (W-GDP) Initiative.