What’s In America’s First-Ever Strategy on Gender Equality?

It’s finally happening: America is charting its course as a nation to remedy our problems with gender equity and equality. What is contained in the momentous document, and how will it affect funding for gender issues?

The Biden-Harris administration’s Gender Policy Council recently released the country’s first National Strategy on Gender Equity and Equality. (Image credit: White House Report)

The President and Vice President begin the document by locating the issue in our current context of heightened stakes for women and girls in the US and across the globe:

This document, the first-ever United States government strategy on gender equity and equality, is a part of that noble American tradition [of valuing equality]. It comes at an inflection point for the economic security, safety, health, and well-being of women and girls in our nation and around the globe. COVID-19 has exacerbated preexisting economic, health, and caregiving crises that disproportionately impacted women and girls long before the pandemic struck. Following the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression, women’s participation in the American labor force plummeted to its lowest level in over 30 years. Rates of gender-based violence have risen significantly, and racial and ethnic inequity has deepened.

The plan offers an intersectional approach and defines “interconnecting priorities” for the nation to focus on. The nine identified priorities are:

  1. Good jobs for women.
  2. Ending gender-based violence.
  3. Protecting reproductive health.
  4. Improve access to education for women and other marginalized groups.
  5. Gender equity and fairness in justice and immigration systems.
  6. Advance gender equality under the law.
  7. Integrate gender equality into climate change mitigation.
  8. Close STEM gender gaps.
  9. Grow women’s leadership across all sectors of society.

This agenda will have a “whole-of-government” implementation strategy and an Annual Report submitted to President Biden will be made public.

In order to produce this strategy, over 250 stakeholders including nonprofits, unions, worker organizations and academics convened a total of 15 issue-based events hosted by the Gender Policy Council. In addition, over 270 youth leaders added their ideas in youth-focused listening sessions. Members of Congress, state leaders, Tribal and local leaders also contributed to the formation of this plan.

What Does All This Mean for Nonprofits and Funders for Gender Equality?

It’s hard to say for sure, but it would seem that this development — a national commitment of unprecedented scope and magnitude to gender equality — might mean that, as they say, “help is finally on the way” for the battle-weary feminists who have been raising this flag for decades. It will be interesting to see what kinds of of funding investments agencies ask for to accomplish these “whole-of-government” approaches. As we discuss frequently here at Philanthropy Women, gender equality funding is the smallest subsector of philanthropic funding, and is currently suffering a lot of setbacks due to divestments of funding made under Trump, and diversions of funding related to COVID.


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Author: Kiersten Marek

Kiersten Marek, LICSW, is the founder of Philanthropy Women. She practices clinical social work and writes about how women donors and their allies are advancing social change.

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