Globally, women have faced disproportionate socioeconomic impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, women’s employment loss was 5 percent, compared to 3.9 percent for men (International Labour Organization, 2020). In addition, women-led enterprises have reported more closures compared to those led by men, and have experienced more significant blows to sales, profits, liquidity, and growth (FP Analytics, 2021). Within this context, now more than ever, defending human rights requires a focus on gender equality and women’s economic empowerment.
Banyan Global addressed these challenges by implementing the Women’s Economic Empowerment and Equality Technical Assistance (WE3 TA) project, a task order under the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded Advancing the Agenda of Gender Equality (ADVANTAGE) contract. Under the direction of the USAID Bureau for Development, Democracy, and Innovation, Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Hub (DDI/GenDev), Banyan Global provided advisory services to stakeholders to better analyze, design, implement, and monitor interventions addressing women’s economic empowerment and equality constraints and opportunities. Such efforts were in support of USAID’s 2012 Gender Equality and Female Empowerment Policy.
The WE3 TA project was not just about adding women’s economic empowerment and equality considerations into future projects; the project also aimed to make WE3 integration an integral component of current development programming. Banyan Global’s WE3 team produced a six-unit Women’s Economic Empowerment and Gender Equality (WEEGE) Technical Guide to enable USAID staff to design, procure, implement, monitor, evaluate, and learn from WEEGE in programs. The Guide presents practical tools, resources, and samples for integrating WEEGE into the USAID program cycle. The team also finalized two tools related to USAID’s digital strategy on the gender digital divide: the Gender Digital Divide Desk Review and a Risk Management Technical Note.
In addition, the WE3 TA project conducted WE3 analyses of various sectors in order to strengthen donors’ and implementers’ approaches to WE3 in these fields. For example, the Banyan Global team conducted a cutting-edge WE3-specific gender analysis of the solid waste management and recycling sector globally, with a specific focus on Latin America and the Caribbean. The team also conducted a WE3 assessment on integrating WE3 into labor, small and medium enterprise development, and the enabling environment in Sri Lanka, and led a training for USAID staff and implementing partners on the links between WE3 and the fisheries sector. Furthermore, the team on the WE3 TA project completed a report with WE3-related findings and recommendations on promoting WE3 in customs and border agency services, operations, and personnel management to support women in trade.
Banyan Global’s work under the WE3 TA project has been invaluable to improving how USAID and its partners integrate WE3 into development programs. By presenting findings from the WE3 analyses and assessments at conferences around the globe, Banyan Global has reached technical specialists who work in those sectors every day. One specialist remarked, “Great work on the WE3 waste [and recycling report]. Very useful insight to build into current programming.”
Through the WE3 TA project, Banyan Global provided USAID and its partners with evidence-based research, models, and tools, which advance its approach to WE3 to achieve sustainable development outcomes and encourage continuous WE3 collaboration, learning, and adaptation. By improving WE3-related USAID staff capacity, creating WE3 tools and resources, and enabling USAID/DDI/GenDev to respond to mission and operating unit requests for WE3 support, Banyan Global has helped to ensure that the development community is addressing WE3 in its global programming across all sectors. Thanks to the WE3 TA project, development practitioners have the tools they need to improve women’s economic empowerment worldwide. It is time to put those tools into practice.