The Big Ideas Coalition (BIC), in collaboration with the gender equality community, led on and contributed to the below. The analysis and recommendations below are the product of the feedback, insights, and experience of a wide group of global gender equality experts. The positions presented, recommendations, and initiatives named below do not necessarily represent the views of all BIC members.
Coalition Response to the Confirmation of Dr. Geeta Rao Gupta as Ambassador-At-Large for Global Women’s Issues
As co-chairs of the Big Ideas for Women and Girls coalition, we applaud the Senate confirmation of the new U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues, Dr. Geeta Rao Gupta. The Ambassador is the highest-ranking US official dedicated to advancing global gender equality, and Dr. Gupta’s leadership will be welcomed by a wide range of partners and allies in the United States and globally. Click the link below for our full statement.
Coalition Response to the 2023 USAID Gender Policy
The Big Ideas Coalition for Women and Girls Coalition (BIC) welcomes the newly updated policy on gender from USAID, which is a significant and positive update to the 2020 version. We are grateful to the Administration for conducting a consultative process with stakeholders from civil society and the Global South, and appreciate their meaningful consideration of our coalition’s concerns about the 2020 version of the policy and recommendations for this update. This policy is clearly a result of strong engagement with key stakeholders in civil society, USAID, and in Congress. We congratulate the Administration and USAID on the release of a holistic and strong policy that works to build upon evidence in the field and ensure we can address gender inequality globally. Click the link below for our full review.
Resources for Gender Integration in Cross-Cutting Sectors
As gender mainstreaming becomes a mandate across U.S. government agencies, the Big Ideas Coalition is eager to assist actors who may not be as familiar with core gender terms, resources, and experts. Use the link below for an up-to-date resource to guide the work of your organization or others in your network as you seek to include gender equality and equity into you work.
U.S. Government Gender Equity and Equality Strategy
As a global leader that wields a great deal of political power and influence, and the largest donor of foreign assistance in the world in terms of donor dollars, the U.S. government has both a tremendous opportunity and a responsibility to drive global progress on gender equity and equality. In order to achieve such goals, U.S. foreign policy and assistance requires a transformation and to intentionally shift the structural power dynamics that are reinforced at every level. This requires prioritizing the achievement of gender equity and equality through robust funding for gender capacity, staffing and gender data, and critically, flexible and sustained funding streams for women’s rights organizations working in aid recipient communities. Read recommendations from the Big Ideas Coalition below!
Qualifications for the Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues at the U.S. Department of State
As re-established in the Executive Order of March 8, 2021, empowering women and girls and advancing gender equity and equality are central to U.S. foreign policy. As stated in the order, investing in gender equity and equality “is a matter of human rights, justice and fairness.” It is also a matter of national security, economic growth, political stability, and necessary for improving health outcomes, among numerous other benefits to United States citizens and those abroad. The Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues (GWI) leads the Department of State’s work to promote gender equality, and the rights and empowerment of women and girls in U.S. foreign policy. The Office of Global Women’s Issues, which has had long-standing bipartisan support, leads the Department’s efforts to include women and girls in U.S. diplomacy, partnerships, and programs. This Senate-confirmed position is the highest-ranking official with this mandate in the State Department. The office also has the ability to act as an incubator for pilot approaches, and can build the evidence base for effective work through their ability to distribute small grants. Any nominee for this post should, at a minimum, be a proven champion for the equality, human rights, and empowerment of women and girls globally, and have substantive knowledge of the ways in which others are marginalized or discriminated against due to their gender identity or expression, or sexual orientation. Candidates for this important post should be carefully considered throughout the nomination and confirmation process. Read the Big Ideas Coalition’s recommendations below for the minimum qualifications and experience that successful candidates for this critical role should be able to demonstrate.
Transition & the First 100 Days of the New Administration:
The actions that the next Administration takes in the first 100 days will establish the pace and direction of rejuvenating global peace and prosperity, and progress towards global gender equality, for years to come. The incoming Administration has an opportunity to set a strong, feminist course to ensure that women’s and girls’ rights are respected, protected, and fulfilled at home and abroad, that global gender equality is a priority, and that the most marginalized are centered in policymaking going forward to create a better future for everyone. Overall, the U.S. government must recognize that achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and contributing to the end of gender inequality and discrimination requires systemic and structural change, and improved opportunities for individual women and girls.
USAID Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Policy:
Advancing gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls is a vital goal of US foreign assistance. In response to the draft 2020 Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Policy released for public comment in August 2020, our coalition shared several concerns about both the process of developing this new policy and its content. While the final text contains some useful updates, our coalition’s major concerns remain unresolved.
We call on the Biden Administration to pause implementation of this new policy as a matter of urgency and revert to the 2012 policy to ensure continued guidance for USAID staff and partners. We further urge the new Administration to launch a consultative process with internal and external experts – including local women- and girl-led organizations, faith-based organizations, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocates, and civil society – to update the 2012 Gender Equality and Female Empowerment Policy so that it better advances gender equality and the needs of women and girls, and reflects the expertise of the world’s premier development agency.
COVID-19 Response and Recovery
The current COVID-19 global pandemic heightens the urgency of ensuring that gender equality is at the heart of all USG foreign policy and assistance efforts. Evidence has shown that regardless of the source of the emergency, crises like COVID-19 expose and exacerbate existing inequalities that result in women, girls, and people of diverse gender identities facing disproportionate negative impacts. The immediate and long-term consequences of COVID-19 on women and girls will reverse decades of progress on gender equality and related development outcomes, including negative impacts on women’s and girls’ education, health, economic empowerment, and inclusive political participation, while simultaneously weakening community- and national- level resilience and self-reliance efforts.
We urge the U.S. government to take a holistic evidence-based and data driven approach and take all necessary steps to ensure that the disproportionate impacts faced by women and girls, due to underlying gender inequality and discrimination, are identified and prioritized in global COVID-19 containment, response and recovery efforts.
Other Resources and Activities:
- Baseline qualifications criteria for Ambassador for the Office of Global Women’s Issues at the State Department
- Draft Effective partnering and Procurement Reform Recommendations- Public Comments from the Big Ideas Coalition
- Draft USAID Policy Framework- Public Comments from the Big Ideas Coalition
- Bi-partisan Dear Colleagues Letter on the mainstreaming of gender equality in the USAID “Journey to Self-Reliance” signed by 8 Members of the U.S. House of Representatives
- Private sector CEO sign-on letter on advancing gender equality in U.S. foreign policy