Winning the fight against global poverty means fighting for women to win in the global economy. As we mark our 10th anniversary, the Millennium Challenge Corporation remains committed to designing, implementing and evaluating the impact of our worldwide development investments to ensure that both men and women contribute to and benefit from economic prosperity. Among our achievements, we are proud of getting our partner countries to change their laws, practices, policies, and institutions to advance gender equality.
While the work of reform is far from glamorous, it is fundamental for success and sustainability. We work with our partner countries to ensure that policies make sense and institutions perform well so men and women are included in the economic vitality of their communities.
Because of MCC’s focus on gender inequality, a married woman in Lesotho can now own a business and obtain a loan without her husband’s consent. Women in Mongolia are securing titles to land, using them for collateral. Women in Tanzania are benefiting from MCC-funded training that provides income-generating skills. Women in Cabo Verde will have access to affordable water and sanitation because a social and gender unit established within the new national water and sanitation agency will be looking out for their interests. And research funded through MCC’s investment in Indonesia will empower women politically and economically, supporting President Obama’s Equal Futures Partnership.
In these partner countries and others, progress is possible because MCC turns policy into action. We translate the promise of gender equality into reality through required operational steps, even waiting to disburse funds until our gender requirements are met.
For example, when MCC selects countries to partner with, we consider gender rights. Among the 20 objective third-party indicators we use to evaluate countries is the gender in the economy indicator, which assesses a government’s commitment to gender equality in economic rights.
Once a country is selected for MCC assistance and begins to develop a proposal for funding, we conduct an Initial Social and Gender Assessment. This examines how cultural beliefs and preferences, social norms and practices, formal and informal institutions, and legal and policy frameworks affect the ability of particular social groups—including women—to participate in and benefit from growth-focused investments.
We hold our partners accountable for gender equality at a level not often seen. As we move from developing projects to implementing them and assessing their performance and impact, MCC requires that each investment include a Social and Gender Integration Plan. Outlining objectives, activities and targets toward social inclusion and gender equality, this plan must be part of all projects.
With such rigorous analysis and planning behind our investments, MCC creates economic opportunities for both women and men. As the U.S. government works to empower women and girls around the world, I am proud that MCC is helping to lead the way. By making sure the right policies, tools and institutions are in place early on, MCC deepens gender equality and brings our partners closer to sustainable development for the long run.
Daniel W. Yohannes is the Chief Executive Officer of the Millennium Challenge Corporation.