22 U.S. Code § 2151–2. Actions to improve the international gender policy of the United States Agency for International Development
(a) Gender analysis definedIn this section, the term “gender analysis”—
(1) means a socioeconomic analysis of available or gathered quantitative and qualitative information to identify, understand, and explain gaps between men and women which typically involves examining—
differences in the status of women and men and their differential access to and control over assets, resources, education, opportunities, and services;
the influence of gender roles, structural barriers, and norms on the division of time between paid employment, unpaid work (including the subsistence production and care for family members), and volunteer activities;
the influence of gender roles, structural barriers, and norms on leadership roles and decision making; constraints, opportunities, and entry points for narrowing gender gaps and empowering women; and
(b) International development cooperation policyIt shall be the international development cooperation policy of the United States—
to reduce gender disparities with respect to economic, social, political, educational, and cultural resources, wealth, opportunities, and services;
to strive to eliminate gender-based violence and mitigate its harmful effects on individuals and communities including through efforts to develop standards and capacity to reduce gender-based violence in the workplace and other places where women work;
(3) to support activities that secure private property rights and land tenure for women in developing countries, including—
legal frameworks that give women equal rights to own, register, use, profit from, and inherit land and property;
improving legal literacy to enable women to exercise the rights described in subparagraph (A); and
to increase the capability of women and girls to fully exercise their rights, determine their life outcomes, assume leadership roles, and influence decision-making in households, communities, and societies; and
(c) ActionsIn order to advance the policy described in subsection (b), the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development shall ensure that—
strategies, projects, and activities of the Agency are shaped by a gender analysis;
standard indicators are used to assess such strategies, projects, and activities, if applicable; and
gender equality and female empowerment are integrated throughout the Agency’s program cycle and related processes for purposes of strategic planning, project design and implementation, monitoring, and evaluation.
Section was enacted as part of the Women’s Entrepreneurship and Economic Empowerment Act of 2018, and not as part of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 which comprises this chapter.
“Congress finds the following:
Because women make up the majority of the world’s poor and gender inequalities prevail in incomes, wages, access to finance, ownership of assets, and control over the allocation of resources, women’s entrepreneurship and economic empowerment is important to achieve inclusive economic growth at all levels of society.
Research shows that when women exert greater influence over household finances, economic outcomes for families improve, and childhood survival rates, food security, and educational attainment increase. Women also tend to place a greater emphasis on household savings which improves family financial resiliency.
A 2016 report by the McKinsey Global Institute estimated that achieving global gender parity in economic activity could add as much as $28,000,000,000,000 to annual global gross domestic product by 2025.
Lack of access to financial services that address gender-specific constraints impedes women’s economic inclusion. Roughly 1,000,000,000 women around the world are currently left out of the formal financial system, which causes many women to rely on informal means of saving and borrowing that are riskier and less reliable.
Among other consequences, this lack of access hampers the success of women entrepreneurs, including women who are seeking to run or grow small and medium-sized enterprises. The International Finance Corporation has estimated that 70 percent of women-owned small and medium-sized enterprises in the formal sector are unserved or underserved in terms of access to financial services, resulting in a financing gap of $300,000,000,000 for women-owned small businesses.
“(6) Women’s economic empowerment is inextricably linked to a myriad of other women’s human rights that are essential to their ability to thrive as economic actors across the lifecycle, including—
living lives free of violence and exploitation;
achieving the highest possible standard of health and well-being;
enjoying full legal and human rights, such as access to registration, identification, and citizenship documents;
benefitting from formal and informal education;
equal protection of and access to land and property rights;
access to fundamental labor rights;
policies to address disproportionate care burdens; and
business and management skills and leadership opportunities.
Discriminatory legal and regulatory systems and banking practices are obstacles to women’s access to capital and assets, including land, machinery, production facilities, technology, and human resources. These barriers are often connected to a woman’s marital status, which can determine whether she is able to inherit land or own property in her name. These constraints contribute to women frequently running smaller businesses, with fewer employees and lower asset values.
Evidence shows that, once a saving group is linked to a bank, the average savings per member increases between 40 to 100 percent and the average profit per member doubles. Investing in financial literacy, business leadership training, and mentorship are key elements to these outcomes.
United States support for microenterprise and microfinance development programs, which seek to reduce poverty in low-income countries by giving small loans to small-scale entrepreneurs without collateral, have been a useful mechanism to help families weather economic shocks, but many microcredit borrowers largely remain in poverty.
The vast majority of microcredit borrowers are women who would like to move up the economic ladder, but are held back by binding constraints that create a missing middle – large numbers of microenterprises, a handful of large firms or conglomerates, and very few small and medium-sized enterprises in between, which are critical to driving economic growth in developing countries.
According to the World Bank, small and medium-sized enterprises create 4 out of 5 new positions in emerging markets, but approximately 50 percent of formal small and medium-sized enterprises lack access to formal credit. The financing gap is even larger when micro and informal enterprises are taken into account. Overall, approximately 70 percent of all micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises in emerging markets lack access to credit.”