Africa: USAID Awards $6 Million to Empower Women Affected By Conflict

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Washington — The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has awarded more than $6 million for programs aimed at protecting and empowering women in areas affected by crisis, conflict and transition.

USAID Deputy Assistant Administrator Sarah Mendelson announced the awards during a December 19 event at which participants discussed USAID's implementation of the two-year-old U.S. National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security.

Since the plan was established, USAID has "enhanced and accelerated long-standing efforts to bring women's participation, perspectives and skills to bear on the challenges facing societies threatened by crisis, conflict and insecurity," according to Making Progress, USAID's report highlighting its implementation of the plan.

The new funds are intended to help USAID offices build on already successful programs and start new activities to benefit the following populations:

- In Papua New Guinea, USAID programs will aim to increase the capacity of women's civil society organizations that can provide recovery services for survivors of conflict-related trauma and domestic and sexual violence, and advocate for the implementation of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville's National Action Plan.

- In Kenya, USAID funding will strengthen the ability of female leaders to participate in decision-making at local and national levels of government by defining resources and needs, and by building a network of women leaders to mentor and provide peer-to-peer teaching.

- In Sierra Leone, USAID programs will provide effective services for survivors of gender-based violence by improving existing referral systems and police-response procedures, and by developing a network of safe shelters.

- In Libya, USAID will aim to expand the potential of women entrepreneurs through business skills training, improve women's access to financing through brokered relationships with financial institutions, and offer matching grants and technical assistance to accelerate business growth and job creation.

Elsewhere in the Middle East and North Africa, USAID will support the development of regional television programs designed to promote positive shifts in attitudes and behaviors related to women's participation in politics and governance.

Additionally, USAID supports efforts to build an international roster of experts in investigating and prosecuting conflict-related sexual violence.

Looking ahead, USAID says it plans to expand successful programs that focus on women and peace and security, and to coordinate with host governments on advocacy for women's increased participation in high-level decision-making. It also aims to link protection and empowerment activities in crisis and conflict settings in ways that recognize women's and girls' diverse capabilities.

USAID says it will focus on women and girls in its efforts to combat illicit activities and gang violence, and increase its focus on women's engagement in economic recovery after conflict. The agency also says it will increase its efforts to engage men and boys in preventing violence and in championing women's and girls' social, political and economic empowerment.

The report Making Progress is available on USAID's website.

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