National Strategy on Gender Equity and Equality
The White House issued the first-ever national gender strategy to advance the full participation of all people – including women and girls – in the United States and around the world. The White House press release noted the COVID-19 pandemic has fueled a health crisis, economic crisis and a caregiving crisis that have manifested the challenges that women and girls have faced, especially women of color and those living in rural communities. The strategy adopts an intersectional approach that considers the barriers and challenges faced by those experience intersecting, and compounding forms of discrimination and bias related to gender, race, and other factors, including sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion, disability, age, and socioeconomic status.
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Supported by the new White House Gender Policy Council, gender mainstreaming is expanded and better institutionalized throughout the diplomatic, defense and development departments and agencies and better aligned with U.S. domestic policy. The elevation of gender equity and equality in the federal government’s work is an important milestone. This executive order requires every cabinet secretary to participate in advancing gender equality in both domestic and foreign policies.
Building on the groundwork laid by earlier administrations, gender equity is fundamental to ever individual’s economic security, safety, health, and ability to exercise their most basic rights. Understanding the gendered dimensions of national security and their importance could produce enormous impacts at home and abroad. Other policies should be leveraged to achieve even greater gains.
Earlier whole-of-government policies such as the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) Act of 2017 required the Department of Defense and other U.S. agencies to create strategies that prioritize perspectives, safety and meaningful participation of women across all facets of national security, which is a critical factor in addressing complex challenges facing U.S. security. All evidence shows the elevation and inclusion of women is required for creating sustainable peace.
U.S. Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Gender-based Violence Globally in 2012 directed all departments and agencies to implement this strategy to strengthen a government-wide approach that identifies, coordinates, integrates, and leverages current efforts and resources to address gender-based violence more holistically and effectively. The goals and actions included in this strategy are even more timely today, considering the horrific increases in reported GBV incidences that have arisen during the COVID-19 pandemic.