Gender inequality stymies economic growth and development. In fact, countries with the greatest degree of gender inequality experience some of the highest levels of poverty. That is because women have a unique ability to pull families and communities out of poverty and set them on a path toward prosperity.
The United States believes that any country desiring to diminish its financial woes should empower its women and girls and work toward the elimination of gender inequality. This principle is one of the drivers of U.S. development aid policy.
In 2006, the Millennium Challenge Corporation, or MCC -- an independent U.S. Government foreign assistance agency which provides grants to developing, well-performing countries that meet specific criteria -- instituted its ground-breaking Gender Policy which now plays a role at every stage of the assistance process. From selecting partner countries, to developing and implementing proposals for funding, to monitoring and evaluating the program results, the host government’s efforts toward minimizing and eliminating gender inequality is always a serious consideration.
This year, the MCC introduced a Gender in the Economy indicator. It measures the legal capacity of married and unmarried women to execute ten economic activities: get a job, register a business, sign a contract, open a bank account, choose where to live, obtain a passport, travel domestically and abroad, pass citizenship onto their children, and become head of a household. In short, the policy indicator assesses a government's commitment to promoting gender equality and helps to determine if it would make a suitable partner for investment.
This is a good way of determining where to allocate development dollars, because a country where half the population is forbidden from contributing to its development cannot approach its full potential and is therefore not a good investment.
Through its aid and development agencies, including the Millennium Challenge Corporation, the United States continues to further its commitment to strengthening gender equality, and to improving the lives of men and women around the world.