Hagerty, Colleagues Introduce Legislation to Advance W-GDP Initiative

September 28, 2021

Ivanka Trump praised the work of these Senators to codify this impactful women’s economic empowerment program

WASHINGTON—United States Senator Bill Hagerty (R-TN), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and former U.S. Ambassador to Japan, along with Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Steve Daines (R-MT), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Mike Braun (R-IN), and Rob Portman (R-OH), have introduced legislation to codify the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity (W-GDP) Initiative.

W-GDP, which was established in February 2019 as a groundbreaking, whole-of-government approach to advancing women’s economic empowerment, reached 12 million women worldwide during its first year and seeks to reach 50 million women by 2025. Yet, the Biden Administration is proposing to eliminate this program in favor of a new initiative focusing on climate change and other vaguely described goals, rather than promoting economic opportunity for women.

“As a father of two daughters, it is heartbreaking that there are nations around the world that still rob women of opportunity. The United States has a duty to seek reform so that women and girls can pursue education and entrepreneurship, wherever they live,” Senator Hagerty said. “Under President Trump and Ivanka Trump’s leadership, W-GDP was launched and has shown great promise, but sadly the Biden Administration would rather dismiss the initiative simply because the previous administration launched it. It’s vindictive politics, but along with a number of colleagues, I’m fighting to protect W-GDP for generations of women around the globe who dream of a chance for a better life.”

“I am very proud to support this groundbreaking legislation to empower women throughout the world.  I also want to thank Ivanka Trump, who played an instrumental role in spearheading this important initiative,” said Senator Graham. “Under this legislation, the United States will adopt a whole-government approach to improve opportunities available to women by improving education, enhancing women’s ability to inherit property, and increasing access to banking and credit.  Today, there are multiple countries that prevent women from inheriting property and women’s ability to borrow money is virtually non-existent.  We seek to address and eliminate those barriers to women’s empowerment with this legislation.  I’m confident that over time this groundbreaking initiative will benefit women across the world and also pay dividends for women here at home in the United States.”

“Empowering the next generation of female leaders is something I’ve always thought is incredibly important, and as the first female senator from West Virginia, it’s something I feel a responsibility to do,” Senator Capito said. “Women in the United States have so many opportunities that women in other countries around the world just don’t have, especially in countries that deal with violent conflicts on a daily basis. Our legislation will help cement the previous administration’s efforts to implement a strategy that will help advance women’s economic empowerment, which also includes the Women, Peace and Security Act I led with Senator Shaheen.”

“As the Biden Administration continues with its approach of eliminating Trump-era initiatives, I’m proud to join my Senate colleagues in codifying the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative,” Senator Rubio said. “Advancing women’s economic empowerment worldwide and enabling their participation in society and the workforce should not be a partisan cause.”  

“Under the Trump administration, the United States made great strides to further opportunity and education for women and girls across the world. Now, the Biden administration is trying to get rid of this important program that helps improve the lives of millions of women,” Senator Daines said. “As a proud father of two girls and grandfather to one, I believe it’s critical that we protect the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative that empowers all girls, no matter where they live.”  

“Women across the world deserve to engage meaningfully in the economy,” Senator Blackburn said. “The Trump administration’s W-GDP program strived for that goal, providing greater security, opportunity, and equality for women in developing nations. President Biden’s mission to eradicate W-GDP is a partisan effort to undermine any initiative from the Trump administration. This legislation will do the work the current administration refuses to do — put the wellbeing of women above partisan politics.”

“It’s important that women across the globe are provided the tools and opportunity for economic success. The W-GDP Initiative established under the Trump Administration, did just that,” said Senator Braun. “I am proud to join my colleagues in introducing legislation that will continue the work of the W-GDP and advance economic opportunities for women.”

“I am pleased to cosponsor this important legislation to codify the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative, an initiative I have supported since its inception in 2019. The W-GDP does critical work, striving to reach tens of millions of women in developing countries in order to help them prosper in the workforce, succeed as entrepreneurs, and have a meaningful foothold in their economies,” said Senator Portman. “Congress must act immediately to pass this legislation, and in so doing, reaffirm our commitment to advancing the interest of women and girls around the world.”

Ivanka Trump, who served as Advisor to the 45th President of the United States Donald J. Trump and spearheaded the creation and launch of W-GDP, praised the introduction of this legislation saying, “As the world has watched the Taliban take control of Afghanistan, we are reminded once again of the pain, suffering, and lack of opportunity that far too many women and girls are forced to endure under oppressive regimes. Now more than ever, it’s critical that the United States share our values for human rights, education and economic opportunity for all. I commend the Senate for taking action to codify W-GDP— an impactful program launched during the Trump Administration— to ensure women around the world can legally, fully and freely participate in their local economies and provide for their families.”

This legislation would continue the work that began under the Trump Administration to advance women’s economic empowerment around the world by: (1) removing educational and skills barriers to female participation in the workforce; (2) promoting women’s entrepreneurship and increasing female access to capital and markets; and (3) reforming laws and practices that prevent women’s full and free participation in the global economy. It also requires neutrality with respect to abortion and prevents the diversion of funds to abortion-related work to ensure that the Initiative remains focused on economic empowerment.

To ensure politically accountable management of W-GDP, the legislation requires appointment of a Senate-confirmed Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues and the W-GDP Initiative who reports directly to the Secretary of State. The Secretary must report annually to Congress regarding the use of funds to implement the Initiative.

Last year, Congress appropriated up to $200 million for the W-GDP fund. This bill authorizes $200 million of the funds made available for USAID development assistance programs for a W-GDP Fund to support the program.

In March, Hagerty pressed USAID Administrator Samantha Power during her confirmation hearing for a commitment to implement W-GDP.