The First-Ever Interagency Strategy on Women’s Economic Security Places Women Front and Center in Development Goals
In January 2023, the United States Government launched the first-ever interagency U.S. Strategy on Global Women’s Economic Security. The strategy’s vision recognizes that women’s economic security is essential to their human rights and to strengthened communities, peaceful nations, and resilient, growing economies. Particularly in the context of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, and other global conflicts and crises that amplify existing gender inequalities, the Strategy places the advancement of women’s economic security and equitable opportunities as central to achieving policy and development goals across all sectors.
“When we advance women’s economic security and ensure equal opportunity, we advance economic development and prosperity for all.” – U.S. Strategy on Global Women’s Economic Security
How does the Feed the Future Advancing Women’s Empowerment Program support the goals of the U.S. Strategy on Global Women’s Economic Security?
Women are key contributors to food and agriculture systems, playing an important role in agricultural value chains and the production, processing, marketing, and distribution of food. Women comprise 43 percent of the agricultural labor force in developing countries, and 64 percent of women in low-income countries work in agriculture (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, FAO, 2015; Employment in Agriculture, Female, World Bank, 2021). Yet, gender inequalities in access to land ownership, inputs, finance, and participation in groups limit women’s capacity to fully contribute to and benefit from food and agriculture system growth.
As outlined in the Strategy, women’s economic security relies on a multifaceted approach to increasing their access to economic opportunities, such as increasing control over income and resources, eliminating gender-based violence, improving the enabling environment to promote women’s entrepreneurship and inclusion, closing systemic gender gaps in employment sectors, improving and expanding access to quality services and education, and ensuring gender equity in mitigating climate change. Supporting women’s and girls’ ability to fulfill their potential and make strategic life choices within agriculture and market systems requires that systems of inequality are closely examined to identify where women and girls face key empowerment gaps.
The Feed the Future Advancing Women’s Empowerment (AWE) Program supports these approaches by providing technical assistance to missions, implementing partners, the Bureau for Resilience and Food Security, and other USAID offices to ensure they have the knowledge, practices, and resources to understand and address gender inequality throughout their work and to assess and enhance program efficiency and sustainability. AWE takes a systems approach and values co-design, participation, quality, and actionable leave-behinds to provide technical support aligned with the Strategy’s vision.
Some key areas where AWE’s work and tools aligns with the new strategy’s priorities are:
- Promoting Economic Competitiveness Through Well-Paying, Quality Jobs through capturing learning and building capacity for market-driven skills building, promoting the business case for inclusion, increasing private sector inclusion capacity, and promoting women’s entrepreneurship.
- Advancing Care Infrastructure and Valuing Domestic Work through capturing learning and building capacity for promoting the business case for inclusion and investments in the care economy, addressing unequal time use and care burdens, engaging men in sharing the responsibilities of care work, and promoting equitable decision-making in households and communities.
- Promoting Entrepreneurship and Financial and Digital Inclusion, Including Through Trade and Investment through capturing learning and building capacity for the private sector to promote women’s entrepreneurship, innovation, and economic inclusion; capacity-strengthening for women entrepreneurs; the promotion of women’s increased access to trade and markets; support on the integration of a gender lens to financial, digital, and marketing products and services; promotion of increased women’s access to, control over, and benefit from assets and productive resources; the promotion of increased financial and digital investment; and the promotion of women’s participation and leadership in businesses, organizations, and associations.
- Dismantling Systemic Barriers to Women’s Participation through capturing learning and strengthening capacity on the role of women and rural land users in climate change adaptation and mitigation; addressing and mitigating gender-based violence in agriculture and market systems development; promoting the increased understanding and use of gender- and sex-disaggregated data, and assessing women’s empowerment in beyond production agriculture activities.
Activity Example: AWE Virtual Learning Series
AWE is implementing an exciting activity for those who are interested in engaging in a conversation about how to promote women’s economic security by partnering with the private sector—the AWE Virtual Learning Series. The Virtual Learning Series was launched in November 2022 and is running through June 2023. The series is focused on three key themes:
- Creating alignment with the private sector to produce inclusive development results.
- Conducting and using inclusive market research.
- Engaging the private sector to capture and apply evidence.
The series opened with a kickoff webinar introducing the series and recently shared a learning burst focused on Theme 1. AWE is excited to announce that the second learning burst, focused on Theme 2, will address private sector use of conducting and using inclusive market research, to be released in April. More information can be found on Agrilinks, and you can stay up to date by becoming a member of the AWE Virtual Learning Group and accessing AWE’s online resources and toolkits.