In blistering review, experts call USAID draft gender policy "step back in time"

Two prominent development voices, George Ingram (a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institute), and Nora O'Connell (the Vice President for Public Policy and Advocacy at Save the Children), described the United States Agency for International Development's (USAID's) new draft gender policy as a retrenchment on gender equality and a "step back in time".

Against the backdrop of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, which has both exacerbated and revealed the level of gender inequality globally, experts say the current draft policy would undermine the agency's ability to address issues such as increased caregiving responsibilities placed upon women globally, a loss of economic and educational opportunities, gender-based violence, and conjugal slavery (including forced and child marriage).

Critics highlighted that the use of terminology such as "unalienable rights" and "basic and legal rights" in place of "human rights" narrows the scope of legal protections that the policy will offer. The draft also adopts a binary gender definition, eliminating references to the LGBTQ+ population and failing to address intersectionality, a philosophy which recognizes that some people face multiple forms of discrimination.

Ingram and O'Connell decry the policy's "retrograde concept of gender equality", which they say appears to be driven by ideology rather than concerns about the impact of the proposed changes.

Op-ed - Brookings Institute