Washington, D.C. — The Women’s Refugee Commission (WRC) welcomes today’s release of the U.S. National Strategy on Gender Equity and Equality. Mandated by President Biden on International Women’s Day 2021, this whole-of-government strategy is the first of its kind in the U.S. and aims to address the wide range of gender equity issues both domestically and globally. According to the strategy, the Biden administration aims to elevate gender equality in security and humanitarian relief as a key priority. It also specifies the importance of addressing issues affecting displaced women and girls, persons with disabilities, LGBTQI+ individuals, and other marginalized populations.
In response to the new strategy, Gayatri Patel, vice president of external relations at WRC, issued the following statement:
“The National Strategy on Gender Equity and Equality sets the stage for the path ahead for U.S. foreign policy and programs in humanitarian crises. It commits the U.S. government to ensuring prevention and response to gender-based violence at the outset of emergencies; integrating comprehensive sexual and reproductive health care services into humanitarian assistance; and prioritizing girls’ education and women’s access to livelihoods opportunities in crisis contexts.
“By putting U.S. government support behind women-led organizations as critical to the humanitarian system, the strategy underscores what should be a fundamental shift in humanitarian practice — to center the voices of women and girls affected by the crisis in the relief programs meant to help them.
“Broader policy commitments in the strategy, if implemented, will also improve gender equality and equity for displaced women and girls, including ending the harmful Global Gag Rule, which restricts access to lifesaving sexual and reproductive health services critically important in humanitarian emergencies, such as safe abortions and contraceptives. The strategy also integrates intersectionality and the need to design policies and programs that address the overlapping impacts of gender, race, sexual identity or orientation, disability, and other factors, and include a diversity of actors, including in humanitarian crises.
“While WRC is encouraged by much of what is in this new strategy, we hope to see robust action moving forward. Specifically, we call on the Biden administration to reverse course on many of its own policies and practices, including those related to immigration and asylum. While this strategy commits to supporting a fair and humane immigration system … that welcomes immigrants, keeps families together,’ the administration’s policies at the U.S. border — particularly to summarily expel most people seeking asylum, including at ports of entry, and to re-implement the ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy — are completely out of step with those commitments.
“We also urge the Biden administration to ensure that U.S. agencies prioritize meeting the broader goals and dedicate real resources toward action and tangible outcomes. Embedding this work into U.S. foreign policy and humanitarian assistance now can save lives and improve the world for women and girls long after President Biden leaves office. We call on the administration to put all necessary resources toward implementing these commitments and taking meaningful action to ensure this strategy achieves its purpose.”
Learn more about WRC’s work on gender equality.