It is a well-known fact that women comprise half of the world’s population.  But it is a lesser-known fact that they also make up 40 percent of the global work force. According to the UN Statistics Division’s 2015 report on The World’s Women,[1] when both paid and unpaid work (e.g., household chores and caring for children) are taken into account, women work longer hours than men—an average of 30 minutes a day longer in developed countries and 50 minutes in developing countries. 

Despite that, women’s access to health, education, and power and decision making remains lower than men’s. And, in many countries women continue to be economically dependent on their spouses[A1] . 

Twenty-plus years after the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the most progressive blueprint ever for advancing women’s rights, women still face many challenges to achieving gender equality.  According to the same UN report, “poor access to information and education, early marriage…increase women’s exposure to sexually transmitted infections, unwanted pregnancies and the risk of unsafe abortion.” Further, one in three women have experienced physical/sexual violence at some point in their lives.

We in the development community know the importance of  achieving stronger roles for women and girls in all facets of social, economic, and political life.  We also know that engaging men and boys in this effort, is at the center of any sustainable development to this quest.  We also acknowledge the importance of education. For example, for each additional year of education for women of reproductive age, child mortality falls by 9.5 percent., , And, when women are included in peace processes, there is a 20 percent increase in the probability of achieving an agreement lasting at least 2 years, and a 35 percent increase in the probability of an agreement lasting at least 15 years[2].   Understanding this crux of development assistance, EnCompass LLC has, since its founding in 1999, applied a gender-aware and inclusive lens to our work.  This has meant integrating the essential standards and principles of human rights – participation, non-discrimination, and accountability – into all our services to strengthen our clients’ knowledge and skills to identify and address gender inequalities that prevent achievement of desired development outcomes. What are some examples?

When USAID developed the Gender Equality and Female Empowerment Policy, EnCompass was ready to support the agency to position women as equal partners in securing global prosperity and security. As a small business, EnCompass is able to nimbly deliver our expertise across multiple sectors, including agriculture, education, health and democracy and security.  During, the past couple of years, we have capitalized on this ability and have made several noteworthy contributions to USAID’s implementation of its policies,  across several program areas.

To help USAID’s efforts to prevent and respond to gender-based violence (GBV), EnCompass designed and wrote two sector-specific resource guides on this subject for USAID staff: one focused on the education sector, and one focused on the energy and infrastructure sector.[3] We then used the content of these guides to develop a four-day training session to enable USAID technical experts to better recognize and address unintended consequences of development programs on the safety and security of women and men, girls and boys in host-country environments. Under the USAID-funded AIDSFree project, EnCompass has designed a number of resources and provided technical assistance to host country partners on how to address gender inequalities to achieve better HIV prevention, care and treatment outcomes. And, from a GBV analysis we completed for USAID/Honduras, recommendations are informing the Mission’s programming on increasing citizen security in urban, high-crime areas across the country. 

Malala Yousafzai said: "I raise up my voice — not so I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard … we cannot succeed when half of us are held back."

As a strong believer that the true wealth of our world lies in attaining equal rights and freedom for all to make a contribution, EnCompass takes pride in its work to support our clients.  We are dedicated to promote gender equality and reduce gender-based violence.  And, we believe in enabling all groups of people, so that they can participate in creating opportunities – and share in the benefits of sustainable development.

A women-owned small business, EnCompass offers innovative solutions for organizational excellence.  We seek to enhance the impact and capacity of government and multilateral agencies, corporations, and nonprofits around the world through customized services in organizational and leadership development, training, technical assistance, and evaluation.

[2] Laurel Stone (2015). Study of 156 peace agreements, controlling for other variables, Quantitative Analysis of Women’s participation in Peace Processes in Reimagining Peacemaking: Women’s Roles in Peace Processes, Annex II  – See more at:

[3] Electronic copies of these Resource Guides are available at: and

 [A1]Photo c/o USAID via Creative Commons