WASHINGTON — The Women’s Entrepreneurship and Economic Empowerment (WEEE) Act, legislation introduced in the Senate by Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and John Boozman (R-Ark.) that seeks to eliminate global gender-related barriers and empower female entrepreneurs around the world, was signed into law today.
“Investing in women creates a positive cycle of change that can lift women, families, communities and entire countries out of poverty,” said Cardin, ranking member of the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee and a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “I believe in the power of women to change the world, and I am proud that our leadership on this new, bipartisan law will empower women entrepreneurs and sharpen our diplomatic and development tools to better fight global poverty and injustice.”
“Providing women access to tools for economic success supports global prosperity. The WEEE Act empowers women to gain control of their financial futures while simultaneously facilitating improvements in their homes and communities. I’m proud to have led the effort in the Senate to help level the economic playing field for women around the world and I appreciate the tremendous support we received from many in the public and non-profit sectors to help this critical legislation become law,” Boozman said.
Specifically, the WEEE Act will:
- Establish a development cooperation policy of the United States to reduce gender disparities related to economic participation and opportunity, strive to eliminate gender-based violence, support women’s property rights and increase the capability of women and girls to determine life outcomes.
- Direct the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to include efforts that promote equality and female empowerment throughout its programs.
- Expand USAID’s microenterprise development assistance authority to include small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), with an emphasis on supporting SMEs owned, managed and controlled by women; and
- Modernize USAID’s development assistance toolkit to include innovative credit scoring models, financial technology, financial literacy, insurance and actions to improve property and inheritance rights.
In addition to Senators Cardin and Boozman, the Senate bill was cosponsored by Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Chris Coons (D-DE), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Susan Collins (R-ME), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA).
The bill was led by Representatives Ed Royce (R-CA) and Lois Frankel (D-FL) in the House of Representatives.