Gender Equality

FY2018 Funding Recommendation:  
$1.9 billion

 

Funding History

       Enacted   

       House/Senate FY2017 Request   

       InterAction's FY2018 Recommendation

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Justification

 Key Facts

  • A peace agreement is 35% more likely to last at least 15 years if women are involved in its creation, according to a study of 40 peace processes in 35 countries over the course of three decades.

  • Greater economic and educational opportunity for women and girls means that girls avoid marriage as children, lower rates of maternal mortality, have fewer and healthier babies, and that those children are better off and more likely to survive infancy and early childhood, eat nutritious meals, and go to school. 

  • In Niger, as just one example, preliminary estimates indicate that - through reduced population growth, increased educational outcomes for girls and budget savings for the provision of education alone - eliminating child marriage could, between years 2014 to 2030, lead to benefits valued at more than $25 billion.

  • 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 inactivity gap between girls and boys would yield an increase in GDP of up to 5.4%. When accounting for students, wage gaps, and labor demand elasticities, shrinking the joblessness gap between men and women yields a 1.2% GDP increase in a single year.

  • A 2013 World Health Organization study found that one in three women worldwide will experience gender-based violence in her lifetime.

  • The economic impact of violence against women and children has been estimated to cost the global economy $8 trillion

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

Transparency in funding for gender would be a major step forward. As this funding is currently 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 allow for more increased efficiency and accountability, and would ensure 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 women’s economic empowerment, global health including maternal and child health, development assistance, refugee and migration assistance and support for international organizations and programs. 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.

The allocation also includes specific funding to maximize the existing architecture to support gendered topics, including the Department of State’s Office of Global Women’s Issues; USAID’s  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 U.S. Global Strategy to Empower Adolescent Girls. 

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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