Spurring Innovation for Women’s Economic Empowerment

Three creative approaches from the first year of the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative Fund

Mark Green
Feb 12, 2020 · 4 min read
Adviser to the President Ivanka Trump, USAID Administrator Mark Green, and Peace Corps Director Jody Olson with Fanny Parini (center in pink) and other beneficiaries of the Inclusive Value Chains project, after engaging in a roundtable discussion on opportunities and challenges for empowerment of rural women in Paraguay. / Teresa Torres/USAID

ne year ago today, I was proud to join President Trump and Advisor to the President Ivanka Trump to launch the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative (W-GDP), the first-ever whole-of-government approach focused on advancing women’s full participation in the global economy. This initiative also established the W-GDP Fund at the USAID, which has provided $100 million to finance innovative and effective programs that advance women’s economic empowerment around the world.

Through our fund, our programming, and our extensive field presence, we have made the promise of W-GDP real, and three creative approaches helped us boost women’s economic empowerment and equality between women and men across every region where we work.

Participants at the DISCOs for Women Conference in Nigeria. DISCOs, short for electricity ‘distribution companies,’ look to hire more women for this fast-growing energy sector. / IBEDC

Incentive Fund

Through a $27 million Incentive Fund, W-GDP is financing organizations in 22 countries that are working to reach 100,000 women, and will leverage nearly $150 million in non-U.S. Government funds through more than 200 public- and private-sector partners.

Our awardees are breaking barriers across Africa, Asia, and the Americas. In the Republic of Indonesia, the Incentive Fund will help create 2,000 registered, women-owned enterprises and support growth in income and revenue for 5,000 women in poultry supply-chains. In the Republic of Rwanda, the Women in Rwandan Energy activity will enable 1,400 women to break into the fast-growing energy sector, while working with the Rwandan Government and the private sector to bring even more women into this traditionally male-dominated field. And, in South America, funds will help scale successful programs that work with companies in the field of information and communications technology and equip 8,700 new women with the skills needed for placement and promotion in tech-sector jobs.

In West Bengal, India, the W-GDP Fund’s partnership with PepsiCo empowers female potato farmers who work on the supply chain for the brand’s Lay’s chips. / Rachael Baitel/USAID

Unique Partnerships

Over the course of the first year of W-GDP, we catalyzed private-sector investment, expanded existing partnerships, and built new ones with international and local businesses and non-profit organizations.

Our work with Mars Inc., is just one example of the nearly 250 partnerships we have cultivated in one year. The W-GDP Fund provided $2 million in funding — which leveraged an additional $2.5 million from Mars — to help establish a sustainable supply-chain for shea nuts in Northern Ghana and provide critical technical assistance and resources to women-led businesses there.

The W-GDP Fund’s partnership with NASA will work to close the gap between higher education and employment, and help women from 23 developing countries advance in careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

WomenConnect Challenge grantee HOT — that stands for Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team — partners with schools in Peru to train students to use new mapping and surveying tools, and to empower them to question gender norms and inequality through technology and digital maps. / GAL Group

WomenConnect Challenge

The WomenConnect Challenge (WCC) is a global call for solutions designed to close the gender digital divide. The first round of funding provided more than $1 million to nine organizations that are working to address barriers that limit women’s access to technology, and to connect nearly one million women in 12 countries to the internet. For example, Indian company Gram Vaani will develop a mobile-phone-based platform on which women in the northern part of the country can create and share vital information on issues such as labor rights and livelihood opportunities.

Our work is changing the lives of women globally, and we are just getting started. As we commemorate the first anniversary of W-GDP, we look back on our successes in investing in women over the past year, and we and our partners look forward to continuing to build on our lessons-learned and successes — because an investment in a woman is an investment in her community, and her country.

About the Author

Mark Green is the Administrator of USAID. Follow him @USAIDMarkGreen. Our development efforts advance American interests by promoting global security, prosperity, and self-reliance.

U.S. Agency for International Development

Stories of USAID’s Work from Around the World

Mark Green

Written by

Administrator of @USAID. Our development efforts advance American interests by promoting global security, prosperity and self-reliance.

U.S. Agency for International Development

Stories of USAID’s Work from Around the World

Mark Green

Written by

Administrator of @USAID. Our development efforts advance American interests by promoting global security, prosperity and self-reliance.

U.S. Agency for International Development

Stories of USAID’s Work from Around the World

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