For the second time in two years, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in India has been selected for funding from the White House-led Women’s Global Development and Prosperity (W-GDP) Initiative, the United States Government’s first whole-of-government effort to advance women’s economic empowerment globally. Through the W-GDP Fund, USAID will be partnering with the Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) Bharat, a national federation of women-led institutions providing economic and social support to women workers in the informal economy.
Highlighting the need to support opportunities for women and women-owned businesses, U.S. Ambassador to India, Kenneth I. Juster, said: “The U.S. Government recognizes that women are indispensable contributors to a country’s economy and is committed to tackling barriers that prevent women from doing so. The COVID-19 pandemic has made it more difficult for women entrepreneurs to participate and succeed in economic activity. This partnership between USAID and SEWA Bharat will help women overcome barriers and help women contribute more fully to the Indian economy as it recovers from the impact of the pandemic.”
The women-owned cooperatives and women micro-entrepreneurs who are members of SEWA Bharat face unique challenges related to the global COVID-19 pandemic that threaten their livelihoods. Through the new “W-GDP Building Resilient Women Entrepreneurs” project, USAID and SEWA aim to reach 135,000 women by strengthening SEWA agriculture, garments, social security, and finance cooperatives to help members prepare for and respond to COVID-19 through market-based approaches; helping micro entrepreneurs identify opportunities to diversify or expand businesses in the current COVID-19 context; and supporting an enabling environment that allows micro-entrepreneurs and cooperatives to thrive.
The W-GDP Initiative and the associated W-GDP Fund was created by Advisor to the President, Ivanka Trump and established by President Donald J. Trump in February 2019. In its first two years, the W-GDP Fund has totaled $200 million and partnered with more than 450 private sector, nongovernmental, local organizations, and country governments to work across more than 60 countries around the world.
At an August 11 event in Washington, Advisor to the President, Ivanka Trump announced $122 million in W-GDP programs, including the “W-GDP Building Resilient Women Entrepreneurs” project in India and noted: “The W-GDP Fund was created to source and scale the most innovative programs to advance women’s economic empowerment. We are leveraging the resources and expertise of the U.S. government and the private sector so that activities have enduring, deep effects on the communities they reach.”
John Barsa, Acting Administrator, USAID said: “Global prosperity will remain out of reach if we exclude half the population. At the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), we believe investment in women is key to unlocking human potential on transformational scale. The W-GDP Fund at USAID is financing innovative solutions to close the economic gap between women and men and help our partners advance on their Journeys to Self-Reliance.”
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