Oxfam welcomes launch of women’s economic empowerment initiative

Oxfam cautiously welcomed the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative announced by President Trump and Ivanka Trump at the White House today.

“It is very promising to see the first ever cross-agency initiative to put women at the center of US assistance, and we’re looking to see how it will be put in practice,” said Aria Grabowski, Senior Policy Advisor for Oxfam America. “We hope that this bold initiative goes beyond this media moment and that it will drive real change for women around the world.”

Women’s economic empowerment certainly deserves attention, especially at a time when the World Economic Forum estimates it will take 202 years to close the economic gender gaps.  And that’s no surprise given that 104 countries have laws limiting women’s ability to work certain jobs, 59 countries do not have laws protecting women from sexual harassment in the workplace, and in 18 countries husbands can legally prevent their wives from working, according to the World Bank.

“For this ambitious and much needed initiative to deliver, it will have to address critical barriers to women’s economic empowerment, be driven by women’s rights, must include the most marginalized, and must fully fund foreign assistance so that there are adequate resources and staff to do gender analysis and sufficiently address issues related to women’s economic empowerment,” continued Grabowski. “Given this administration’s poor track record on gender equality efforts, we do have serious reservations about how this initiative will be implemented.”

In order for this initiative to work, it must be funded and staffed adequately, so the rubber meets the road in the President’s FY2020 budget request. Last year, the President’s budget request proposed a 35% cut for gender equality programs, but the cuts were ultimately rejected by Congress.

“Women deserve to have the same opportunities men do around the world, and it is high time we address their needs as well,” continued Grabowski.  “Gender equality is critical to creating a more prosperous world. When women have the opportunity to determine their futures, everybody wins.”

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