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USAID's Unflagging Effort to Empower Women


Women work on embroidery at a stall during a visit by U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Rajiv Shah (unseen) in an occasion to highlight the work of female micro entrepreneurs in Karachi.

“In order to end extreme poverty, feed the planet, and build vibrant economies, women and girls must gain access to capital, land, markets, training, education, and leadership opportunities.”

The U.S. Agency for International Development, or USAID, is the U.S. government agency primarily responsible for administering civilian foreign aid. Its mission is "to partner to end extreme poverty and to promote resilient, democratic societies while advancing the security and prosperity of the United States.” Why then does so much of USAID’s work revolve around empowering women and girls?

According to the World Bank, countries with greater gender equality are more prosperous and competitive.

“In order to end extreme poverty, feed the planet, and build vibrant economies, women and girls must gain access to capital, land, markets, training, education, and leadership opportunities,” said USAID Senior Coordinator for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment, Susan Markham.

Although 40 percent of the world’s farmers are women, anywhere from 3 to 20 percent are landholders. In Africa, women own only 10 percent of all businesses, and just 8 percent of small and medium businesses in South Asia. “Women,” Ms. Markham said, “hold fewer assets, earn less, own a fraction of the world’s enterprises, and are often denied more opportunities than men even when they have the same or higher level of education.”

USAID is working to ensure all of its programs address the unique perspective and development needs of women and girls.

That’s why USAID is working to ensure all of its programs address the unique perspective and development needs of women and girls. Ignore than 80 countries, it runs initiatives focused exclusively on advancing gender equality. . “We know that women are key drivers of economic growth,” said Senior Coordinator Susan Markham. That’s why the United States is partnering with Japan to empower women and girls in Afghanistan through a program called Promote. Promote is USAID’s largest women’s empowerment program ever. The program supports Afghan women to become leaders in politics, the private sector, and civil society.

“For more than 50 years, USAID has been a leader in empowering women and girls globally, because the evidence shows that investing in women and girls accelerates progress in every area. From ending extreme poverty to countering violent extremism, women are not only impacted by these issues, they are invaluable and have knowledge on how to solve them,” said Senior Coordinator Markham.

“Empowering Women is the Smartest Investment We Can Make.”

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