US Vice President Kamala Harris today announced a slew of commitments from the government, private sector entities, and various organizations to support women’s economic empowerment in Latin America.
Companies including Accion, CARE International, Cargill, Mastercard, Microsoft, and PepsiCo, who have responded to the VP’s Call to Action, have gone a step further and pledged full participation in strengthening women’s access to quality employment, resources, and networks for business development and growth. Additionally, these programs will also address gender-based violence in Central America and help create safer, stronger, and more prosperous communities living harmoniously across the region.
Along with the Partnership for Central America, the Vice President, on the day, launched ‘In Her Hands’, a private sector initiative to empower, train, and protect women in northern Central America and across the Western Hemisphere. The program aims to connect more than 1.4 million women and their communities to the financial system and digital economy, accelerate women’s participation in the agroindustry, train more than 500,000 women and girls in core job skills, promote gender parity, and elevate them within companies across the region.
These initiatives are committed in support of the U.S. Strategy to Address the Root Causes of Migration in northern Central America, which the Vice President launched in July 2021. Harris has been engaged in tackling the root causes of rising migration into the country, an issue seized upon by the rival Republican Party that has become a top priority for President Joe Biden at a week-long Summit of the Americas. Migration remains at alarming highs amid deteriorating conditions in Latin America, made worse by the Coronavirus pandemic.
Since being tasked with this portfolio last year, Harris has leaned on the private sector to shore up support for Central America. In May, on her way to the United Arab Emirates, Harris called the leaders of the Partnership for Central Americas while on Air Force Two. The partnership acts as a liaison between companies and the US government. Experts credit her ability to secure private sector investments as her most visible action in the region to date, yielding commitments from major companies.
Building off her leadership of collaborative public-private partnerships, the Vice President announced the following government initiatives to complement private sector commitments to empower women and girls in the Latin American region:
- Gender-Based Violence (“GBV”) Prevention, Protection, and Accountability Initiative: The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) announced new programs in northern Central America to end the scourge of GBV, homicide, extortion, and corruption, as well as human trafficking that act as significant drivers of migration.
- GBV Analysis and Roadmap: With migration patterns and GBV deeply intertwined, USAID’s new initiative will take adequate steps to prevent sexual, gender-based, and domestic violence, hold perpetrators accountable and protect and provide services for victims in northern Central America.
- Women’s Entrepreneurship and Labor Rights: To promote economic security for all, the Department of State will provide $4.5 million through the Gender Equity and Equality Action (GEEA) Fund to support and encourage the economic participation of women and girls across the region.
- Domestic Workers Rights Program: This $1 million project of the State Department will expand its “Promoting the Rights of Domestic Workers in Mexico” program to protect the labor rights of domestic workers and support their transition to the formal workforce.
- Women’s Digital Inclusion Initiative: The U.S. Mission to the Organization of American States (OAS), in partnership with the OAS Secretariat for Integral Development and Meta, will launch the 36-month, $1.5 million “Economically Empowered Women for Equitable and Resilient Societies” project. This will aim to increase the knowledge and capacity of women to effectively function in the digital economy, build sustainable livelihoods, and increase their participation in policymaking and leadership in their societies.
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