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House lawmakers introduce legislation to promote women’s global empowerment

Stefani Reynolds

A group of bipartisan lawmakers introduced legislation on Monday intended to encourage women’s participation in the global workforce. 

The Development Prosperity (W-GDP) initiative, which was launched in February 2018 with White House senior advisor Ivanka Trump — the president’s daughter — at the helm, aims to develop economic stability for 50 million women in developing countries by 2025.

The W-GDP Act — led by Reps. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), Ann Wagner (R-Mo.), Chrissy Houlahan (D-Pa.) and Lois Frankel (D-Fla.) — would authorize two existing positions at the State Department and United States Agency for International Development (USAID) dedicated to working on the initiative and create an interagency steering group and advocacy counsel to assist with its implementation.

The bill would also authorize $200 million annually over the course of half a decade that would be placed in a W-GDP Fund at USAID to fund the programs and “prioritize efforts to leverage private sector resources to complement W-GDP efforts and programs.”

Under the legislation, the agencies would be required to provide an implementation report to ensure the money is being spent effectively and properly.

McCaul, who joined Trump at the launch of the initiative last year in Ivory Coast and has been working closely with her on expanding the efforts, praised the progress they’ve made in the last year, adding that he feels it could prove to be instrumental in combating extremism and promoting stability in third-world countries.

“This legislation will build on the tremendous success of the Administration’s W-GDP initiative, which reached 12 million women in developing countries in its first year alone and seeks to reach 50 million by 2025,” he said in a statement.

“Our whole-of-government effort will help women support their families, contribute to their local economies, and increase prosperity worldwide. From fighting instability and terrorism to promoting economic development abroad, women’s empowerment is critical to our foreign policy objectives and national security. The biggest threat to extremism is an empowered woman.”

Houlahan echoed McCaul’s sentiments, praising the legislation for providing the resources needed to further their efforts.

“Data shows that when women are empowered, communities are more prosperous, and the world is more stable and more peaceful,” the Pennsylvania Democrat said in a statement. 

“That’s why I’m proud to introduce the W-GDP Act, a bipartisan and bi-cameral effort that will push women and women’s issues to the forefront of U.S. foreign policy. This legislation works to ensure women around the world have the tools to succeed as entrepreneurs and leaders,” she said,

Trump thanked McCaul, Houlahan, Wagner and Frankel in a statement, applauding their work on the initiative.

“I applaud their leadership advancing women’s economic empowerment and am grateful for their hard work. The W-GDP Act builds on the bipartisan, bicameral support for the Administration’s trailblazing W-GDP Initiative and I look forward to working with Congress to see this legislation signed into law,” she said.  

Tags Ann Wagner Ivanka Trump Lois Frankel Michael McCaul W-GDP women empowerment

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