Dr. Boozman's Check-up

Women make up the majority of the world’s poor. They are often held back by gender-specific constraints to economic empowerment, such as lack of access to financial services and credit. This shouldn’t be so, not only because equality and fairness demand that women have the same opportunities as men, but also because we know that women can make a tremendously positive impact on the economy. Women entrepreneurs face additional challenges, like a nearly $300 billion credit gap when it comes to business financing.

Recognizing the need to correct this disparity and ensure that women’s potential contributions to the world economy are not hindered or forgone, I’m leading an effort in the Senate to use our country’s international aid programs to leverage more access and equity for women who live in countries with significant barriers to full economic participation.

I’ve introduced a bill – the Women’s Entrepreneurship and Economic Empowerment Act – which aims to achieve global gender parity in economic activity by expanding access to U.S. backed enterprise development programs for micro, small, and medium sized businesses and integrating gender analysis and equality into the strategies and projects undertaken by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). This is a bipartisan effort and a companion bill has already passed the House.

We’re working to build a broad coalition in support of this initiative and we’re being joined by many partners including non-profit groups like CARE, a global leader in ending poverty worldwide, as well as the administration.

In fact, I also met recently with Ivanka Trump who is a proponent of our bill and is working to help us get consensus so it can pass the Senate. My conversation with Ivanka was encouraging because she clearly understands just how important it is to help aspiring female business leaders and entrepreneurs in the developing world. We can help women worldwide lift themselves and their communities out of poverty and onto a path toward sustainability and success.

Ivanka, in addition to each of the bill’s supporters, appreciates just how much women have to contribute to the global economy and wants to help us in the endeavor to improve their access to and position within it. I’m pleased she, along with CARE and the bill’s cosponsors, have joined in this effort because leveling the playing field is not only the right thing to do – it will also uplift women, their families and the world economy.

I’ll keep working to help make the intent behind this legislation a reality because it is good for the United States and the world.