WASHINGTON—The Senate Foreign Relations Committee advanced legislation today introduced by U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD) and John Boozman (R-AR) that aims to eliminate global gender-related barriers and empower female entrepreneurs around the world.
The Women’s Entrepreneurship and Economic Empowerment (WEEE) Act passed with a committee amendment.
“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. “When women are able to be fully engaged in society and hold financial and decision-making power, they are more likely to invest their income in food, clean water, education, and health care for their children. I thank my colleagues for moving this important bipartisan legislation forward.”
“This is an important step to reducing financial hurdles that women in developing countries face. Providing access to economic tools will put more women in control of their financial success and facilitate improvements in their homes and communities. I appreciate the leadership of Chairman Corker to advance this legislation and help level the playing field for women around the world,” Boozman said.
Specifically, the WEEE Act seeks to:
- 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.
- Require the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to ensure that all strategies and projects of the agency are shaped by a gender analysis and that gender equality and female empowerment are integrated throughout USAID’s 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.
The U.S. House of Representatives passed a companion bill in July.