This week, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and other U.S. Senate Republicans threw their support behind U.S. Sen. Bill Hagerty’s, R-Tenn., proposal to codify the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity (W-GDP) Initiative.
Hagerty brought out the proposal on Tuesday and Rubio’s office offered some of the rationales behind the bill.
“W-GDP was established in February 2019 as a groundbreaking, whole-of-government approach to advance women’s economic empowerment. It reached 12 million women worldwide during its first year and seeks to reach 50 million women by 2025. Yet, the Biden administration is proposing to eliminate this program in favor of a new initiative called the Gender Equity and Equality Action Fund, which would instead focus on climate change and other vaguely described goals, rather than promoting economic opportunity for women,” Rubio’s office noted.
“As a father of two daughters, it is heartbreaking that there are nations around the world that still rob women of opportunity. The United States has a duty to seek reform so that women and girls can pursue education and entrepreneurship, wherever they live,” Hagerty said. “Under President Trump and Ivanka Trump’s leadership, W-GDP was launched and has shown great promise, but, sadly, the Biden administration would rather dismiss the initiative simply because the previous administration launched it. It’s vindictive politics, but along with a number of colleagues, I’m fighting to protect W-GDP for generations of women around the globe who dream of a chance for a better life.”
“As the Biden administration continues with its approach of eliminating Trump-era initiatives, I’m proud to join my Senate colleagues in codifying the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative,” Rubio said. “Advancing women’s economic empowerment worldwide and enabling their participation in society and the workforce should not be a partisan cause.”
Rubio is one of seven Republican co-sponsors who is backing Hagerty’s proposal.
“This legislation would continue the work that began under the Trump administration to advance women’s economic empowerment around the world by: removing educational and skills barriers to female participation in the workforce; promoting women’s entrepreneurship and increasing female access to capital and markets; reforming laws and practices that prevent women’s full and free participation in the global economy; and requiring neutrality on the issue of abortion and preventing the diversion of funds to abortion-related work to ensure that the Initiative remains focused on economic empowerment. To ensure politically accountable management of W-GDP, the legislation requires the appointment of a Senate-confirmed Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues and the W-GDP Initiative who reports directly to the Secretary of State. The Secretary must report annually to Congress regarding the use of funds to implement the Initiative,” Rubio’s office noted.
The bill also keeps the W-GDP Initiative funded at $200 million a year.
Ivanka Trump, who had championed the proposal during her father’s presidency, is also backing the proposal.
“As the world has watched the Taliban take control of Afghanistan, we are reminded once again of the pain, suffering, and lack of opportunity that far too many women and girls are forced to endure under oppressive regimes,” she said. “Now more than ever, it’s critical that the United States share our values for human rights, education, and economic opportunity for all. I commend the Senate for taking action to codify W-GDP — an impactful program launched during the Trump administration— to ensure women around the world can legally, fully and freely participate in their local economies and provide for their families.”
The bill was sent to the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee. So far, there is no companion proposal in the U.S. House.