President Donald Trump signed into law a bipartisan women's economic empowerment bill supported by his daughter, White House senior adviser Ivanka Trump, in a ceremony behind closed doors Wednesday.
The Women’s Entrepreneurship and Economic Empowerment (WEEE) Act, authored by Democratic Rep. Lois Frankel and Republican Rep. Ed Royce, aims to provide support for women-led ventures in developing countries and help them overcome gender-related barriers to economic growth, such as facing gender-based violence and having limited access to education and healthcare.
"When women and girls are educated, free from violence, and have access to tools to support their families, their communities are safer, stronger, and more peaceful," Frankel said in a statement provided to Refinery29. "There’s an undeniable link between women’s economic success and global prosperity, and the WEEE Act gives more women and girls the chance to thrive."
According to Frankel's office, as of today more than one billion women across the world are left out from the formal financial system, which in turn hampers economic growth. But research shows that by advancing women's rights and gender equality, we could add between $12 trillion and $28 trillion to the global gross domestic product (GDP) by 2025. (The McKinsey Global Institute has said the former scenario would happen if "all countries match the rate of improvement of the fastest-improving country in their region," while the latter ambitiously proposes that "women play an identical role in labor markets to that of men.")
As a senior adviser to the president, Trump made women's economic empowerment a priority in her portfolio, next to promoting STEM education and criminal justice reform. When it came to the WEEE Act, Trump began lobbying in favor of the legislation last summer. The measure had similar goals to the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi), a project she helped launch with the World Bank in mid-2017.
Some of the things the WEEE Act will do is mandating the U.S.Agency for International Development (USAID) to direct 50% of its small- and medium-sized enterprise (SME) resources to women-owned ventures; codifying USAID's use of a gender-lens for shaping its policies and activities; requiring the agency tracks progress in women's economic empowerment, from employment and enterprise development to control over their income; among other stipulations.