Office of Gender Equality & Women’s Empowerment

Men and women in Egypt engaging in dialogue
Men and women in Egypt engaging in dialogue.


USAID has a long history of support for women and gender equality issues. In 2012, the Agency adopted a suite of new gender equality policies and strategies; reformed budgeting and reporting requirements to capture gender equality results; and created incentive funds to promote women’s leadership, reduce gender-based violence, and accelerate investments in women peacebuilders, parliamentarians, agricultural producers, and owners of small and medium enterprises. Together, we expect these efforts to lead to powerful changes within societies. Some examples of these efforts include:

  • Over the past four years, over $65 million in funding has been directed to support women’s leadership in a range of sectors. Funds are supporting women’s direct participation in peace negotiations, humanitarian and post-conflict donor conferences, and government and political transitions. They are also being used to expand women’s leadership in the mobile phone industry, increase women’s leadership of small and medium-sized enterprises, and increase the extent to which higher education programs cultivate women leaders in business, academia, research and other fields.
  • Over $30 million was used in the Democratic Republic of Congo to expand efforts to support gender-based violence survivors. USAID’s programs increase access to medical, psychological, social, legal, and economic support services. In 2013, USAID’s social protection programs provided social services to over 9,000 survivors, trained over 4,000 service providers, and strengthened nearly 1,000 local organizations that serve populations affected by gender-based violence. USAID’s programs supported nearly 20,000 survivors and vulnerable individuals, including over 16,000 women and girls, with economic activities.

USAID Strategy and Program Focus

Under its Gender Equality and Female Empowerment Policy, USAID makes investments to achieve three overarching outcomes:

  1. Reduce gender disparities in access to, control over, and benefits from resources, wealth, opportunities, and services¬—economic, social, political, and cultural.
  2. Reduce gender-based violence and mitigate its harmful effects on individuals.
  3. Increase capability of women and girls to realize their rights, determine their life outcomes, and influence decision-making in households, communities, and societies.

These outcomes are especially important for males and females who are marginalized or excluded due to ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, lack of income, disability, or other factors.

Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment (GenDev)’s Role

Situated in the Bureau for Economic Growth, Education, and Environment (E3), the GenDev Office provides strategic leadership and technical assistance for USAID’s work on gender. GenDev:

  • Manages centrally funded technical assistance and gender training contracts.
  • Pilots innovative programs aimed at promoting gender equality and female empowerment.
  • Advances and scales up successes through the regular program cycle.
  • Coordinates working groups for cross sector issues.
  • Maintains a repository of best practices on gender integration, and coordinates knowledge management on gender integration through the Agency’s webpage on gender equality and female empowerment.

The GenDev Office provides technical leadership for training on gender equality and female empowerment. In cooperation with Regional Gender Advisors, over 1,500 USAID staff in Washington and in the field have been trained to date. In July 2013, the GenDev office launched Gender 101, a mandatory on-line training module to socialize new policies and increase understanding of the role of gender in development and in the workplace. Two additional on-line trainings will launch in 2014 that will assist USAID staff to engender programs, perform gender analyses, and better support USAID’s gender work worldwide.

GenDev’s Partners 

In order to operationalize the Gender Equality and Female Empowerment Policy, the GenDev Office and the Senior Coordinator’s Office for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment work closely with Missions, Regional Bureaus, Country Offices, and Pillar Bureaus; The Office of Acquisition and Assistance; The Office of the General Counsel and Regional Legal Advisors; The Office of Human Resources; The Bureau for Policy, Planning and Learning; and The Office of the Administrator. In addition, we seek to build partnerships across a wide range of external stakeholders and key actors. This includes host governments; international and host country civil society; women’s organizations; the donor community; foundations; lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocates; and the private sector, including women-led businesses. For example:

  • Through a landmark Global Development Alliance with GSMA, AusAID, and Visa, we are working to close the mobile phone gender gap and accelerate women’s empowerment. In September 2012, mobile operators Asiacell (Iraq) and Indosat (Indonesia) announced increased economic opportunities through new mobile products and services for women. In a few short months, over one million women signed up for their services in each country.
  • USAID has developed three new innovative Public-Private Partnerships using multi-media tools such as documentary film, mobile games, and short videos, along with customized grassroots engagement campaigns to create positive social change for global gender equality. The campaigns, Half the Sky, Women and Girls Lead Global, and Girl Rising, aim to raise public dialogue; create positive shifts in knowledge, attitudes and behavior; and nurture institutional policy changes to support gender equality.

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