Fostering Women's Leadership

Women's Leadership - Peace Consulting
A Gari woman speaks at a community consultation on the draft peace accord in Hudet, Somali Region, Ethiopia.
Photo by Mercy Corps

Women are under-utilized in the effort to promote global well-being. They are under-represented at senior levels in government and business. They are a disproportionately small share of business owners, elected officials, students and peace mediators.

  • Women’s marginalization works to the detriment of efforts to promote sustainable development.
  • Women offer unique perspectives and views.
  • When women participate [PDF] in peace processes, they build coalitions across ethnic and sectarian lines and speak on behalf of other marginalized groups.
  • More robust women’s participation in the economy can dramatically enhance the competitiveness and growth of economies.
  • Whether it is ending a conflict, running a business, developing a life-saving treatment, or rebuilding a country, women have an enormous amount to contribute.

The 2010 Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review reflects our commitment to cultivating women’s leadership. It places women at the center of U.S. diplomacy and development—not simply as beneficiaries, but as agents of development, growth, stability, peace and reconciliation. 

The United States’ National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security and USAID's Implementation of the Women, Peace and Security Action Plan are part of a suite of policies and strategies that guide our work in ensuring meaningful participation and leadership of women in peacebuilding, reconstruction, and transitional political processes, and the protection of women and girls in countries affected by crisis and conflict. Our Making Progress report highlights major milestones and results achieved in the first year of USAID's National Action Plan implementation.


 USAID’s Gender Equality and Female Empowerment Policy further emphasizes our intent to elevate women as leaders and increase the participation of women at all levels of decision-making.USAID has significantly expanded efforts to support women’s leadership. The Agency provides financial support for female negotiators and for the inclusion of women in high level decision­-making processes, including formal peace negotiations, donor conferences and transitional political processes.

Programs have been created to cultivate women leaders in business, academia and research; strengthen the skills of female legislators and legislative branch staff; foster women’s leadership as part of social protection programs; and elevate women’s leadership in the business community.

USAID will support additional programs that promote women’s empowerment by:

  • Improving women’s access to capital, markets and mobile technology
  • Building women’s capacities and skills in agriculture
  • Supporting women’s desires to own businesses

Our efforts will help maximize the leadership potential of women and leverage their skills for greater impact.

Last updated: July 29, 2015

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