SEATTLE, Washington — Women’s inequality is directly contributing to poverty around the world. Currently, harmful practices and barriers exist that limit women and, the entire world by extension, from reaching their fullest potential. Recently U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) introduced the Women’s Global Empowerment, Development and Prosperity Act to the Senate. This act is a step in the right direction for women and the world.
The Women’s Global Empowerment, Development, and Prosperity Act
The Women’s Global Empowerment, Development and Prosperity Act would establish a permanent Office of Global Women’s Issues at the State Department. This office has a focus on globally advancing the rights of women and girls. The Ambassador-at-Large, the leader of this office, would oversee all relevant issues relating to gender equality. This would include the White House’s Global Women’s Development and Prosperity Initiative (W-GDP). The Ambassador reports to the Secretary of State.
Commenting on The Women’s Global Empowerment, Development and Prosperity Act, Senator Shaheen said, “Advancing the rights of women and girls around the world is key to achieving global stability, peace and prosperity. That’s why Congress wants to prioritize these issues and ensure their integration across U.S. foreign policy.” Senator Shaheen explained that this new legislation would empower the Ambassador-at-Large in the Office of Global Women’s Issues to report directly to the Secretary of State and increase the supervision of important gender equality strategies.
Commenting on the importance of helping women around the world, Senator Shaheen said, “Creating more opportunities and investing in women and girls isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do. It builds a brighter, more prosperous future for not only women but their communities.” Senator Shaheen expressed her gratitude for the White House’s support of this legislation and hopes it will move quickly through Congress.
The 3 Pillars of the W-GDP
The W-GDP has three main pillars. They include:
- Women Prospering in the Workforce – The goal of the first pillar is to help advance women in the workforce by improving access to job and skills training so that they have the chance to establish themselves and thrive in their jobs and the economy.
- Women Succeeding as Entrepreneurs– The second pillar increases access to opportunities, including mentorship and support that would help women entrepreneurs to grow their businesses.
- Women Enabled in the Economy– This final pillar decreases “the legal, regulatory and cultural barriers” that prevent women from fully participating in the global economy. Foundational legal reforms that would support efforts related to this pillar include ensuring women’s access to institutions and women’s equal access to credit without discrimination based on gender or marital status. They also lift restrictions on women’s ability to own property, ensure that women can travel freely and eliminate barriers that prevent women from fully participating in the workforce on the basis of gender.
What does this Mean for Global Poverty?
Ensuring women’s equality not only benefits women and girls around the world but also is an investment in the communities and economies that these women inhabit. The World Bank Group released a report that found that if women in the 141 countries they studied had the same lifetime earnings as men, it would create an average increase in global wealth of $23,620 per person. That is a total of $160 trillion.
Countries with more gender equality in the workplace show greater growth, stability and innovation. Firms with more women on their boards outperform those with fewer women. In Africa, where only 5 percent of CEOs are women, businesses with the most women have a profit of more than 20 percent higher than other businesses. Equality in the workforce increases profit and helps improve the economies in the surrounding community. Furthermore, nations with more gender equality are more peaceful and less involved in violent conflict than nations with greater inequality. Conflict is a large contributor to global poverty.
Supporting The Women’s Global Empowerment, Development and Prosperity Act means supporting women and girls that are facing the barrier of inequality. It also means supporting the communities these women inhabit and the world at large by creating a more prosperous, innovative and peaceful place.
– Hannah White