This week the Trump transition team requested documents from the State Department outlining the details of their programs aimed at promoting gender equality, sending shock-waves through the Department and advocacy communities over fears that the programs might be cut.
The one-page memo requested information on the positions that work on these issues and how much money is spent on them. The memo is similar to the one sent to the Department of Energy recently requesting the names of people who have worked or attended conferences on climate change issues.
The programs in question work to end gender-based violence and promote women’s entrepreneurial, political, and educational participation.
“The women’s equality programs at the State Department have reached millions of women and girls, helping to elevate their status in many developing countries worldwide,” said Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation. “Women’s equality programs at the State Department help to create stability in nations and release the potential of half the population, which leads to the economic growth and well-being of everyone.
“For example, in Afghanistan the USAID PROMOTE programs have reduced maternal and infant mortality, allowed girls the opportunity to go to school, and helped train women for entrepreneurial, civic and public service leadership. Today in Afghanistan millions of girls are going to school, some 20 percent of the college students are women, there are over 200 female judges, and there are now women’s civic programs in all 34 provinces.”
While progress has been made, gains for Afghan women and girls are fragile, as Taliban terrorist attacks remain a persistent threat.