Gender Equality

FY2016 Funding Recommendation:  
$1.9 billion

 

Funding History

       Enacted   

       President's FY2016 Request   

       InterAction's FY2016 Recommendation


Justification

 Key Facts

  • Greater economic and educational opportunity for a woman means her babies are more likely to survive infancy, her children are more likely to go to school, and her family is more likely to eat nutritious meals.

  • Making agricultural resources and services equally available to women as they are to men could reduce the number of hungry people in the world by 100-150 million.

  • A survey of 14 countries reveals that closing the joblessness gap between women and men would yield an increase in GDP of up to 5.4% in a single year.

  • One in three women worldwide will experience gender-based violence in her lifetime. Strikingly, between 40 and 50 percent of women experience unwanted sexual advances, physical contact or other forms of sexual harassment at work. GBV imposes enormous costs on families, communities, and countries. A 2014 World Bank study found that women who experienced violence earned 29-61% less than women who did not experience violence, and the cost to overall economies can reach as high as 3.7% of a country’s GDP.

Decades of research and experience show that investing in women and girls is one of the best ways to reduce global poverty. The U.S. government rightly allocates significant funding for programs that improve the lives of women and girls, and ensure they are considered at every stage of project design and implementation.

Since this funding is dispersed across various accounts, however, it can be difficult to track. Adding a line to the appropriations bill that captures this funding across all accounts would be a major step forward: allowing for more transparency and better tracking, and ensuring that women and girls are truly at the center of our investments in international development.

Our recommended consolidated funding level of $1.9 billion largely reflects monies already accounted for in the budget lines of various accounts, including Global Health Programs, Development Assistance, Migration and Refugee Assistance, and International Organizations and Programs. The allocation also includes specific funding for the Department of State Office of Global Women’s Issues; programs to enhance women’s political participation and leadership; and activities enumerated in the USAID Gender Equality and Female Empowerment Policy, the U.S. Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Gender-Based Violence Globally, and the National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security.

When addressing the greatest global development and humanitarian challenges of our time, we must ensure that women and girls are part of the solution. Providing an appropriations line that brings together the U.S. investment in more than half of the world’s population would be a critical tool for ensuring both that we meet this challenge, and that the U.S. receives credit for its contributions to this essential effort.

Success Story:

Guatemala’s 24-hour courts increase women’s access to justice

Cindy, a teenage girl in Guatemala, was repeatedly raped and sexually abused by her uncle at the age of 13. For two years Cindy endured the repeated attacks, afraid of death threats made against her mother and grandmother, until her uncle was finally formally charged.

In Guatemala, like so many countries, gender-based violence is pervasive. The country has long been seen as one of the worst examples of widespread violence against women. In the past decade, nearly 4,000 women were killed. 

Like Cindy, so many women and girls are afraid to speak out due to threats made by perpetrators of violence and the stigma they face in their communities. Even when reported, cases of gender-based violence often fall through the cracks of an overburdened criminal justice system. In 2009, authorities passed a law aimed at addressing femicide, violence, sexual abuse, and human trafficking; however, initially this led to few convictions.

At the request of Guatemala’s leadership, USAID provided technical assistance, training and equipment for a new specialized 24-hour court. On October 2012, the court opened its doors in the Attorney General’s office in Guatemala City. This innovative model included a criminal court, public defense office, police substation, and a forensic clinic. Prosecutors, psychologists, doctors, and lawyers staffed the program. This model ensured that victims receive comprehensive services, and that criminal investigations were strengthened by a timely response and the use of scientific evidence.

Since opened its doors, Guatemala’s 24-hour court has authorized more than 846 protection measures for women and 307 arrest warrants. The court has sent 125 people to prison for violence against women and sexual exploitation. This represents a fundamental change in Guatemala’s justice system. While Cindy’s horror can never be erased, USAID’s work with the government of Guatemala helps to paving the way for justice for Guatemala’s women and girls.

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