This is a guest post by Ashley Harden, research associate in CFR's Women and Foreign Policy Program, on the "The Development Channel" blog. She examines efforts to integrate gender concerns into development programs, arguing that the United States and international actors must do more to put their commitments to gender equality into practice.
It's the end of September and New York is abuzz with diplomats, foreign dignitaries, and U.S. foreign policy leaders in town for the opening of the 2012 United Nations General Assembly, the Clinton Global Initiative, and many other high-profile events. While issues of food security, public health, and international diplomacy are being discussed, several meetings have focused on the economic and international development ramifications of gender inequality.
As Daniel W. Yohannes, chief executive officer of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), noted at an event this week, "strong societies depend on gender equality and women's empowerment." Given the widely recognized connection between growth, gender equity, and poverty reduction, international institutions and several arms of the U.S. government have attempted to integrate gender into their institutional policies and development practices (a strategy known as "gender mainstreaming"). However, it is unclear whether these mechanisms are effective, and there remains a gap between rhetoric, policy, and implementation.