Harris launches $1B fund to empower women during Ghana visit

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris arrives at Cape Coast Castle in Ghana, Tuesday March 28, 2023. This castle was one of around 40 “slave castles” that served as prisons and embarkation points for slaves en route to the Americas. Harris is on a seven-day African visit that will also take her to Tanzania and Zambia. (AP Photo/Misper Apawu)

Vice President Harris on Wednesday announced a global initiative to support women in the economy, touting $1 billion in funding from private sector and government investments.

The White House released details of the initiative during Harris’ final day in Ghana, the first stop on a three-country visit to Africa. A significant portion of the funding will go toward increasing economic opportunities for women on the continent.

“Advancing the economic status of women and girls is not only a matter of human rights, justice, and fairness—it is also a strategic imperative that reduces poverty and promotes sustainable economic growth, increases access to education, improves health outcomes, advances political stability, and fosters democracy,” the White House said in a statement.

Harris on Wednesday will host a roundtable in Ghana with women entrepreneurs to discuss economic empowerment and inclusion to highlight the initiative.

The announcement includes $528 million in private sector commitments to support women’s economic empowerment in Africa, with investments from Vista Bank Group, Kuramo Capital Management, The Tony Elumelu Foundation and The African Women Impact Fund Initiative (AWIF), which is supported by the Standard Bank Group.

Private sector groups are also committing $400 million to specifically support closing the gender digital divide. The White House noted that roughly 260 million more men used the internet in 2022 than women, a gap that is especially wide in Africa.

Funding for the digital effort will come from companies such as Mastercard, Microsoft, Procter & Gamble and the Visa Foundation.

The money will be used to improve access to digital finance and other online services and to “address social norms that prevent women from participating fully in the digital economy,” the White House statement said.

Other investments announced Wednesday include $47 million in U.S. government initiatives to advance gender equality across Africa by increasing women’s involvement in political, economic and social matters, and $60 million from the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to address the gender digital divide globally.

Harris is set to depart Ghana on Wednesday for Tanzania, and she will travel later this week to Zambia before returning to Washington, D.C.

While in Ghana, Harris toured an old slave trading post and reflected on the need to learn from history during emotional remarks. 

Harris on Monday announced $100 million in funding to support conflict prevention and stabilization efforts in the region, which is aimed at combating violent extremism and other forms of instability that threaten key Democratic allies in Coastal West Africa.

Tags Africa Biden administration Kamala Harris white house

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