Gender Equality

FY2017 Funding Recommendation:  
$1.9 billion

 

Funding History

       Enacted   

       President's FY2017 Request   

       InterAction's FY2017 Recommendation

*In recent years, the Administration has aggregated several streams of Gender-related funding to create a unified total. While those totals have not been previously included in final law, InterAction urges Congress to include an aggregate level of Gender funding in FY17.


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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.

  • A 2014 World Bank study found that one in three women worldwide will experience gender-based violence in her lifetime. Strikingly, between 40 and 50% of women experience unwanted sexual advances, physical contact or other forms of sexual harassment at work.

  • The same study found that gender-based violence imposes enormous costs on families, communities, and countries. 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 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 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, the National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security and the forthcoming Adolescent Girls Strategy.

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

IMA World Health Helps Congolese Women Overcome Sexual and Gender-Based Violence

Involving women in decision-making bodies is necessary for the sustainable development of communities. However, women in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) are often overwhelmed with ensuring their own survival in the face of impoverishing violence and frequent pregnancies.

The problem of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) in the eastern DRC has its roots in chronic and unequal gender relations. To address this, efforts have been underway to assist survivors of SGBV, combat impunity, empower women to exercise their rights, and engage communities in long-term attitude change. Since July 2010, IMA World Health (IMA) has led a USAID-funded project in the DRC called Ushindi, which means “to overcome” in Swahili. The project has been very successful in helping SBGV survivors heal and reintegrate into their communities. From 2010 to 2015, Ushindi has provided medical assistance to 18,000 survivors and psychosocial support to over 25,000 women.

Elisabeth is one such beneficiary. Like many women in this part of the world, Elisabeth, a single mother, has suffered an obstetric fistula. Fistulas occur from obstructed (unattended) labor and cause ongoing incontinence in urine or feces or both. Often the woman is rejected by the community and suffers from insomnia and loneliness. Project Ushindi, through Heal Africa, IMA’s implementing partner in four health zones, provided Elisabeth with transportation, medical treatment, psychosocial support, lodging, and food. After her treatment she returned home and joined one of Ushindi’s Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLA) and was able to generate an income for herself through these activities. Elisabeth is now in good health, fully reintegrated into her community, teaching again, and proudly able to support her young children. Ushindi has created 432 VSLAs in North and South Kivu, a region still suffering from protracted conflict.

In late 2015, the U.S. Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights Sarah Sewall visited the Ushindi project in Goma in an effort to gain better understanding of what USAID-funded projects are like on the ground. Touring the Heal Africa hospital and meeting SBGV survivors in a confidential setting, she noted the program is held in high regard in Washington and she was also pleased with what she was seeing during her visit.

Because of Ushindi, thousands of women in eastern DRC are overcoming the many challenges they face and are able to work toward the sustainable development needed for their communities to thrive.

Photo: IMA World Health/Crystal Stafford

 

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