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Biden Administration: Increase funding for gender equity worldwide

It is time for the Biden Administration to increase investments in global gender equality. The pandemic has exacerbated existing gaps in gender equality and equity in wages, education, access to healthcare, and more. At the same time, there has been an overall decrease in the federal budget’s commitments to gender equality, where the United States currently ranks 3rd from last. Investing in women and girls increases the likelihood of peace, promotes sustainable development, strengths national security, and reduces poverty worldwide. Our nation must be a leader in providing resources to gender equity efforts.


Dear Acting Director Young,

We, the undersigned organizations, are writing to urge you to boldly increase investments in global gender equality through the Biden Administration’s FY 2023 funding request. Over the past 18 months, it has been clear that the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated an already wide gap in gender equality and equity around the world. It is similarly clear that, unless the United States dedicates significant resources to closing those gaps, decades of incremental progress for women and girls globally will be lost. To effectively build back better and achieve the Biden Administration’s ambitious and commendable vision for advancing gender equity, robust funding for gender programming is not only strategic, it is urgently required. One cannot be accomplished without the other.

On March 8, 2021, President Biden’s Executive Order establishing the White House Gender Policy Council stated, “Advancing gender equity and equality is a matter of human rights, justice, and fairness. It is also a strategic imperative that reduces poverty and promotes economic growth, increases access to education, improves health outcomes, advances political stability, and fosters democracy. The full participation of all people — including women and girls — across all aspects of our society is essential to the economic well-being, health, and security of our Nation and of the world.”

To meet the President’s own call to action, the Biden Administration must reverse the trend of underinvestment in women and girls. Over the past 6 years, our community has repeatedly sounded the alarm that resources allocated to gender equality are falling well short of the global need. The budget request attributed to gender has steadily declined since 2014 and while the FY22 request marks an increase from the historic lows under the Trump Administration, it remains about a billion dollars less than the FY14 peak request when adjusted for inflation. This leaves the United States far behind its allies in its commitments to gender equality, where the U.S. currently ranks 3rd from last.

This decline in resources requested is happening despite the continuous and persistent assault on the rights and opportunities of women and girls worldwide:132 million girls are not in school today, the majority of world’s poor are women; 12 million girls are married before the age of 18 each year; and 1 in 3 women worldwide will experience gender-based violence in her lifetime. The global cost of violence against women had previously been estimated at approximately $1.5 trillion. These figures are rising dramatically as a result of the pandemic, which has laid bare the underlying inequities affecting communities -- and largely the women and girls in them -- worldwide.

As such, we respectfully urge you to at a minimum request $2.25 billion to integrate gender equality into U.S. foreign assistance and advance gender equality globally. This is an investment not just in saving lives but in building a system with wide-ranging impact for women and girls, communities, nations, and the global community as a whole.

We understand you face difficult budget choices and there are many priorities you must consider, but our nation must be a leader in providing these essential resources. We look forward to working with you and with Congress to secure the funding necessary to advance gender equality, which will not only support millions of women and girls, but will in turn promote sustainable development, strengthen national security, and reduce poverty around the world, and note that any increases to the accounts listed above should not come at the expense of other poverty-focused development or humanitarian assistance accounts.

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