For Immediate Release

Office of Press Relations

Press Release

At the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), we wholeheartedly believe that “When a woman rises, the world rises.” We put those words into action every day, and today we reaffirm them as we celebrate International Women’s Day.

USAID celebrates all women and girls around the world, in all of their diversity. Gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls have long been a part of USAID’s work—we seek to create environments that help women succeed economically, prevent and respond to gender-based violence (GBV), provide voluntary family planning and other reproductive health services for women, and ensure women’s leadership and meaningful participation in all areas of life. We also work with men and boys as key allies to create sustainable and long-lasting change.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on women and girls worldwide. Movement has been restricted, social services and resources have become limited, and households are facing even more pressures. Incidents of GBV, including domestic and intimate partner violence, as well as child, early, and forced marriages have all increased.

In the face of COVID-19, unlocking the potential of women is more important than ever. The economic success of women and girls has a ripple effect that leads to better nutrition and health, expanded access to safe water, and greater resilience. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has exacerbated the already disproportionate burden of unpaid care and domestic work on women and girls, preventing them from generating income and ultimately undercutting economic recovery for entire communities. This year, everyone has faced unprecedented obstacles in the ongoing fight against gender inequality. But, we continue to make progress together.

We celebrate programs such as USAID’s Helping Mothers and Children Thrive (HEMAYAT) in Afghanistan, which provides personal protective equipment, COVID-19 response training, and mentorship for midwives such as Muzhda Rasooli. Since the pandemic began, more pregnant women have sought Muzhda’s assistance because of government mandates that limit travel. HEMAYAT taught midwives including Muzhda about safety precautions that protect both mom and baby.

Through the U.S. government’s Feed the Future initiative, USAID celebrates entrepreneurs such as Sylvia Natukunda in Ugandaa who are pivoting their businesses despite challenges of COVID-19. With support from USAID and a local business services company, Sylvia has started marketing on social media and selling directly and safely to consumers, enabling her yogurt company to stay in business and provide food locally.

In Georgia, USAID is expanding a youth and women entrepreneurship program to help participants succeed in the pandemic. We celebrate leaders such as Malo Kotua, Ana Kopadze, and Rena Ajalova, who are setting an example for Georgia’s next generation of women entrepreneurs. Through the program, these women gained valuable skills, made connections, successfully applied for financing, expanded their businesses, and are now thriving despite the pandemic.

Preventing GBV has always been a core goal for USAID. On this International Women’s Day, we pause to celebrate youth leaders such as Luisanny Cordero in the Dominican Republic. Her workshops for the At-Risk Youth Initiative aim to break the cycle of GBV. During quarantine, the program has moved online, using virtual meetings and social media to reach youth in need.

The environment has a huge effect on women’s livelihoods across the globe, and women and girls are important environmental stewards, benefitting their communities. We want to recognize their crucial roles this International Women’s Day. We celebrate USAID’s Resilient, Inclusive, & Sustainable Environments (RISE) Challenge, which addresses the intersection of GBV and the environment. RISE works with local organizations worldwide to implement programs focused on artisanal small mining, land rights, and wildlife conservation.

Finally, USAID emphasizes and values promoting women in leadership roles and educating future women leaders. For International Women’s Day, we salute teachers such as Roziya Boboeva and their efforts to improve women’s rights globally. Roziya is working with The Read with Me project in Tajikistan to provide reading instruction to women and girls with visual impairments.

Today and throughout the month of March, USAID will feature stories of 31 women leaders from around the globe on our Instagram feed, and we invite you to follow along with us.

International Women’s Day goes beyond one woman, one day, one community, or one nation. It is a celebration of the human rights of all women and girls across the globe. As we look to the future with a renewed sense of dedication, vigor, and commitment, we will continue to strive to empower women and girls. We will continue to emphasize that they should exercise their rights fully, use their voices freely, determine their life outcomes, and live their lives free from intimidation, harassment, and violence. We will help them rise, and along with them, the world.

International Women’s Day
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