USAID announces partnership to advance women's economic empowerment in India
A top American aid agency and a non-profit business advocacy group here on Friday announced a public-private partnership to advance women's economic empowerment in India.
"I'm here to announce today the launch of the US India Alliance for Women's Economic Empowerment, along with the US, India Strategic and Partnership Forum (USISPF), and George Washington University (GWU)," Samantha Power, Administrator of United States Agency for International Development (USAID), told a virtual audience during the Fourth Annual Leadership Summit of the USISPF.
The partnership aims to bring together American investors into Indian businesses, philanthropists, academic institutions, and civil society.
The goal is to support women entrepreneurs, provide better job access, build careers, along with mentorship, Power said, participating in the USAID discussion with former US Ambassador to India, Richard Verma.
The President Joe Biden-led US administration is pursuing a comprehensive plan to promote women's economic empowerment, help end gender-based violence and tackle other inequalities, she said.
USISPF president Mukesh Aghi will co-chair the alliance with Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Don Lu, Senior Official for the Office of Global Women's Issues Katrina Fotovat and USAID Assistant Administrator for Asia Karen Freeman.
Speaking at the virtual event, Aghi said, "As we celebrate India at 75, the USISPF has taken a close look at what more we can do to truly achieve inclusive prosperity in India."
Noting India's demographic scape, he said greater inclusion of women in the economy will be critical to advancing India's economic growth.
He pointed out that the International Monetary Fund projects are increasing gender parity in the economy, enabling it to target double-digit Gross Domestic Product growth.
Earlier this year, the USAID and the USISPF launched South Asian Women and Energy Effort, an initiative to increase the presence of women in the sector.
A key study by Food and Agriculture Organization recently said if women farmers had the same access to resources as their male counterparts, the number of hungry people in the world could reduce by 100 million to 150 million people, Power said, explaining the need of gender equality in the economy.
"So, this alliance has been in the works for some time, well before my time coming on board, and joining the Biden administration. Launching the alliance is the first step," she said.
Power announced the alliance's first two initiatives Women@Work and the India Million Women Mentors Initiative.
Women@Work will develop a coalition of businesses, philanthropic organisations, and other stakeholders to address the needs of marginalised women economically impacted by the pandemic.
Women@Work fosters access to finance and business digitisation, accelerates women's empowerment through supplier diversity, helps grow the care economy, and assists in the transition of women business owners in the informal economy to become formally registered.
Aspects of Women@Work are supported by the USAID-funded platform REVIVE Alliance.
The India Million Women Mentors Initiative aims to connect one million women and girls in India with mentors over the next five years.