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US launches women's economic development initiative, questions remain (Devex)

February 8, 2019

From the article:

WASHINGTON — U.S. President Donald Trump signed a national security presidential memorandum on Thursday officially launching the long-discussed White House women’s economic empowerment initiative — the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity initiative, or W-GDP.

While the first government initiative of its kind was applauded by several aid advocates, it also raised a number of questions about how it fits into the administration’s broader foreign aid priorities, especially as the White House has repeatedly proposed cutting foreign aid budgets.

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Charles Kenny, a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development, wrote in a statement Thursday that the first two pillars of the initiative “seem to suggest a rebranding of existing funding for women’s economic empowerment efforts in USAID [U.S. Agency for International Development] and a repackaging of previously announced initiatives at the World Bank and Overseas Private Investment Corporation.”

“But the third pillar is potentially more encouraging,” Kenny said, adding that “quite what is being proposed in this area isn’t yet clear.” He suggested that there is a lot the U.S. can do to combat laws that require a man’s permission to participate in the economy, own property, or leave the house, including making legal reforms a precondition of trade agreements and passing legislation that would push the private sector to work on these issues.

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Director of Technology and Development and Senior Fellow