WASHINGTON—United States Senator Bill Hagerty (R-TN), a member of the Foreign Relations Committee and former U.S. Ambassador to Japan, today pressed USAID nominee Samantha Power during her confirmation hearing for a commitment to implement the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative (W-GDP), which Congress has already appropriated funding for on a bipartisan basis and was launched by the previous administration.
“Using U.S. leverage to empower women economically in nations that far too often rob them of opportunity is too important a goal to let go, especially given that the W-GDP initiative has already been launched and funded. I hope Ms. Power will encourage this administration to preserve the W-GDP initiative and avoid using the worthy cause of women’s empowerment as a pretense for imposing radical social policy,” Senator Hagerty said.
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Partial Transcript Below:
Hagerty: …and to the extent that the United States spends development funds overseas, I know we all want to make certain that those funds are spent in a manner that is efficient and as effective as possible in serving our interests. So I’d like to turn our attention to women’s empowerment. As you know, to the extent that women flourish in a nation, their economies flourish, their democracies flourish, and we tend to see more stability. The previous administration put together a tremendous program – The Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative (W-GDP), and Congress has allocated some $200 million this fiscal year. It enjoys great bipartisan support from this committee and I think it has tremendous potential. Ambassador, I’d like to ask you first, if you’re aware of this program and then further, how would you go about the implementation and making sure that we see this program through, as its intended?
Power: Thank you Senator, just to wholeheartedly agree with your various premises about the link between women’s empowerment and education and increased GDPs, peace processes last longer when women are included and at the table. As to the program that you’re referencing, I have certainly read about it. I would like, if I could, to dig into it again, if I’m fortunate enough to be confirmed and look at also how it fits alongside other USAID investments, for example, in girls’ education, in other efforts to catalyze entrepreneurship for women and girls. Again, I share your premises and I’m happy to consult with you on that going forward.
Hagerty: I appreciate that. And I would underscore that this is a terrific program and I think it has tremendous potential. So I hope that it’ll take a premier role as you evaluate what you may do if confirmed, in the implementation of programs that will help advance our interests overseas…