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Megan O’Donnell is the assistant director of CGD’s gender program and a senior policy analyst. She works on issues related to women’s economic empowerment and financial inclusion, gender data and measurement, and development effectiveness. Prior to CGD, O’Donnell worked at the ONE Campaign, an international advocacy organization focused on sub Saharan Africa, where she led the development of ONE’s gender and inclusive growth-focused policy recommendations to donors and country governments. Before joining ONE, she coordinated CGD’s gender research program and has also worked with the Inter-American Development Bank, the International Center for Research on Women, CARE USA, Banyan Global, and the Middle East Institute. She has a master’s degree in Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Oxford and a bachelor’s degree in Politics and French from the University of Virginia.
If you thought there was one Sustainable Development Goal about gender, you’d be right, but not entirely. SDG 5 is the “gender goal” (“Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls”), but gender equality and women’s empowerment are crucial to development aims throughout the 17 global goals.
CGD, along with Data2X and the World Bank Group, recently hosted an event on the intersections of civil registration and vital statistics (CRVS), legal identification, and gender equality. That sounds like a mouthful, to be sure, but it all comes down to one simple idea: both men and women need to be able to prove who they are, so that they can exercise their rights as citizens and be counted by their governments.
Using the 1986 Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act as a model, our proposal encourages US firms based abroad to mitigate the impact of discriminatory laws, and in doing so allow women to better access employment and participate fully in the workforce.
For the third year running, CGD just co-hosted Girl Summit DC. Since 2014, the annual event has drawn together hundreds of researchers, practitioners, advocates, and government representatives to explore how to improve the lives of adolescent girls. These discussions have helped galvanize action from domestic and international policymakers. Again this year, we discussed solutions capable of affecting real change in girls’ lives—and opportunities for the next US administration to build upon its previous efforts and strengthen its commitment to girls in low- and middle-income countries.
The third annual Girl Summit DC—taking place this week and co-hosted by CGD, IWHC, Girls Not Brides USA, Population Council, the International Center for Research on Women, and CARE—will be an opportunity to push for more research in specific policy areas, including how to address harmful cultural norms and practices facing girls. Traditions that impact girls in the formative years of their lives is the focus of research at CGD by Joyce Banda, former president of Malawi and now a distinguished visiting fellow at the Center. President Banda will be speaking about the need to better understand some of these widespread practices.