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Gender Community Statement on Foreign Assistance

Each year when Congress budgets and appropriates federal spending to provide for our common prosperity and security, it makes important decisions about American values and reflects those values to the nation and the world. Typically, this includes investing in the long-held and cherished American tradition of supporting vulnerable people at home and abroad, including the most marginalized, with the critical assistance they need to build healthy, self-sufficient lives. Increasingly, the U.S. has shown bold leadership supporting women and girls to achieve their full potential, including those that make up 70 percent of the 1.3 billion people worldwide living in extreme poverty.

By spending less than one percent of the budget, our foreign assistance dollars provide lifesaving assistance and transform lives and economies for the better across the globe. It is worth the penny on the dollar to support women entrepreneurs, business owners, and small shareholder farmers to become more self-reliant because doing so helps them lift themselves and their communities out of poverty. Including women in humanitarian and peacekeeping efforts not only brings their perspectives to the table, but also makes America’s noteworthy assistance in conflict and emergency settings more efficient and impactful. Preventing violence against women – which affects an estimated 35 percent of women worldwide– helps women be more secure, productive members of their societies and builds lasting peace both abroad and for Americans here at home. Foreign assistance is such a small sum, yet it means the difference between life or death for millions of women and girls globally.

For decades, foreign assistance has reflected and advanced American values globally. This strong bipartisan effort has helped people escape the cycle of poverty and oppression so they can lead secure and productive lives. Investments in women and girls bring high returns for economic growth, well-being, and democratic governance, which maximize the benefits gained from the investment of United States’ taxpayer dollars. In fact, research has shown that gender inequality is bad for economic growth. If women were able to participate in the economy equally, it would yield a 26 percent increase in global GDP, or $28 trillion in 2025. As history has shown, foreign assistance also helps America develop strong trade, political and military partners – for instance, 11 of America’s top 15 trading partners were once recipients of U.S. foreign aid.

In this work, the U.S. has been a model and beacon of hope to women and girls who survive violence, poverty, health threats and various forms of discrimination. Through the years, both Republican and Democratic administrations have invested in girls' education, women’s health, economic opportunity, political participation, human rights, education and much more. For example, the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) started under the leadership of President George W. Bush has now reached tens of millions of people through life-saving medications and one million adolescent girls via critical HIV prevention interventions. These initiatives have become core to our foreign policy, our response to humanitarian emergencies, and our efforts to fight poverty around the world. We have already seen that investments in women and girls makes U.S. aid more effective. Cuts to any part of the foreign assistance budget will necessarily mean cuts to critical programs for women and girls, and for many such cuts could be life-threatening.

The U.S. Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)--including through the leadership of an Ambassador for Global Women's Issues at State and a Senior Coordinator for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment at USAID--have been strong partners in advancing the bipartisan goal of empowering women and girls. Increasingly, agencies like MCC, Peace Corps, Labor and Agriculture, have also joined in this effort. Together, their efforts have made the United States a global powerhouse in leading the advancement of women and girls worldwide. Yet this work could be lost if it is not prioritized with appropriations and political commitment.

This appropriations cycle, we call on you to remember the millions of women and girls who are counting on you to continue the proud, bipartisan and noble tradition of American goodwill and global leadership, leadership that they too often fail to see in their own countries. Congress must maintain funding for the international affairs budget at robust levels, including international development and humanitarian assistance, to provide lifesaving and impactful support for girls and women globally.

  • 1,000 Days
  • Advancing Girls' Education in Africa (AGE Africa)
  • Advocates for Youth
  • AFL-CIO
  • Alliance for Peacebuilding
  • American Association of University Women (AAUW)
  • American Jewish World Service
  • American Medical Student Association
  • American University Washington College of Law
  • Amnesty International USA
  • AVAC
  • Baha'is of the United States
  • Breakthrough
  • CARE USA
  • Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE)
  • Center for Inquiry
  • Center for Reproductive Rights
  • ChildFund International
  • ChildVoice International
  • CORE Group
  • Council for Global Equality
  • Double Hope Films
  • EngenderHealth
  • Equality Now
  • Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
  • Feminist Majority Foundation
  • Free the Slaves
  • Friends of UNFPA

  • Futures Without Violence

  • Georgetown University School of Nursing and Health Sciences

  • Girl Determined

  • Girl Rising

  • Girl Up

  • GirlForward

  • Girls Rights Project

  • Global Fund for Women

  • Global Network of Black People working in HIV

  • Global Progressive Hub

  • Global Rights for Women

  • GreeneWorks

  • Handicap International

  • Health GAP (Global Access Project)

  • Heartland Alliance International

  • Heifer International

  • Human Rights Campaign

  • Institute for Reproductive Health, Georgetown University

  • International Center for Research on Women (ICRW)

  • International Civil Society Action Network

  • International HIV/AIDS Alliance

  • International Justice Mission (IJM)

  • International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF)

  • International Rescue Committee

  • International Women's Health Coalition

  • International Youth Alliance for Family Planning

  • International Youth Foundation

  • IntraHealth International

  • IPPF/WHR

  • IREX

  • Islamic Relief USA

  • John Snow, Inc. (JSI)

  • Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing

  • Management Sciences for Health

  • Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns

  • Mercy Corps

  • Mercy-USA for Aid and Development

  • National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd

  • National Association of Social Workers

  • PAI

  • Pastoralist Child Foundation

  • PATH

  • Pathfinder

  • Peace X Peace

  • Peaceful Families Project

  • Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon

  • Plan International USA

  • Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA)

  • Population Council

  • Population Institute

  • Population Media Center

  • Population Reference Bureau (PRB)

  • Promundo

  • Promundo-US

  • Protect the People (PTP)

  • Refugees International

  • Saferworld

  • Sahiyo

  • Save the Children

  • Shadhika Project, Inc.

  • Sierra Club

  • Sisters of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, US Provinces

  • Smash Strategies

  • Solidarity Center

  • Tahirih Justice Center

  • The Global Fund for Children

  • The Hunger Project

  • The United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society

  • The WomanStats Project

  • Too Young to Wed

  • U.S. National Committee for UN Women

  • UN Association of the USA

  • Unchained At Last

  • USA Mali charitable association of NYC

  • Vital Voices Global Partnership

  • Volunteers for Economic Growth Alliance (VEGA)

  • Weill Cornell School of Medicine

  • Winrock International

  • Women Deliver

  • Women Enabled International

  • Women for Women International

  • Women Graduates USA

  • Women of Reform Judaism

  • Women Thrive Alliance

  • Women's Action for New Directions

  • Women's Global Education Project

  • Women's Refugee Commission

  • World Education, Inc.

  • World Hope International

  • ZanaAfrica Foundation

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