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Posts Tagged ‘economic growth’

Celebrating International Women’s Day

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011
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Tuesday, March 8 marks the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day, but MFAN Partner Women Thrive Worldwide is drawing attention to the importance of women’s empowerment a few days early. Tomorrow morning they will have their 3rd annual International Women’s Day breakfast as the community takes stock of the progress made in agricultural development and food security and explores important questions for charting a path forward for gender equality. Just five days later Women Thrive Worldwide will be partnering with MFAN and American Jewish World Service to host a discussion on “Forging the Path to Effective Development: Getting Gender Policy Right”. For details about the event, see below. Be sure to visit ModernizeAid later this week and next for more highlights on International Women’s Day and what our partners are doing to mark the occasion.

Forging the Path to Effective Development: Getting Gender Policy Right

With Keynote Remarks By:

Deputy Administrator Donald K. Steinberg

U.S. Agency for International Development

Who Will Join a Panel With:

Ruth Messinger and Ritu Sharma

Presidents of American Jewish World Service and Women Thrive Worldwide

Moderated by

Dee Dee Myers

Political Analyst and Commentator

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

8:30a.m.-10:00a.m.

Reserve Officers Association Building, Minuteman Ballroom A

One Constitution Avenue, N.E., Washington, DC

To RSVP for this event, please e-mail rsvp-dc@ajws.org.

The first government-wide global development policy issued by the President last fall and the State Department’s recently released Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR) both commit the United States to consider the unique needs of women and girls, as well as men and boys, in designing U.S. diplomacy and poverty-fighting efforts around the world.  When gender is taken into account, foreign assistance can truly reach the people it is intended to benefit—so that both women and men can contribute to the growth and development of their countries. However, without a commitment to gender integration, women are usually the ones left behind; even though research shows that investments in women yield economic, health, and education benefits in lifting families and communities out of poverty.

Join us on International Women’s Day for this timely discussion with Deputy Administrator Steinberg on the importance of taking gender into account when designing development and foreign assistance programs. Hear about a new analysis and recommendations for the QDDR from Women Thrive Worldwide, as well as a new AJWS paper, entitled Empowering Girls as Agents of Change: A Human Rights-Based Approach to U.S. Development Policy.

Another foreign assistance casualty of the 112th Congress?

Monday, February 14th, 2011
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A Guest Post by Bama Athreya: Trade, Aid and Security Coalition

Editorial writers for the New York Times, Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal agree:  this is no time to impose tariff barriers on the world’s least developed countries.

Congress allowed a longstanding trade access program to lapse in December, 2010.  That program, the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), allowed over 100 poor developing countries around the world to export their goods to the United States. The program has been in place since 1974, and has succeeded in enabling low-income countries to expand their economies and create jobs for their citizens, thereby becoming less aid-dependent.  The program is consistent with a long-term vision of sustainable economic development.

Congress knew what it was doing, when it first passed this legislation in 1974.  The GSP program was premised on the concept that ‘trade, not aid,’ would ensure that the billions of dollars spent by the U.S. on direct foreign assistance would be complemented by   benefits that helped economies to grow.  Thus  countries could become self-sustaining and direct foreign aid could be phased out.  Should this not be exactly the approach that the US would want to foster in this time of constrained resources?

The expiration of the program could not have come at a worse time for the world’s working poor.  The global economic crisis is estimated to have cost poor countries hundreds of billions of dollars in lost exports and remittances.  The ILO has estimated that tens of millions of jobs have been lost in the developing world as a result of the crisis.  Now, new tariff barriers that will be imposed on imports from these countries may result in further shrinkage of these economies, and further job loss, pushing many more into poverty and dependency on humanitarian assistance for survival.

While the market access provided by GSP is far from comprehensive, and the rules governing the program have long needed reform, nevertheless the right approach, particularly from those in Congress who purport to be pro-trade, is to expand and reform the program, not to kill it.

MFAN Partner ONE Speaks Out on Aid Reform and the Budget

Friday, February 11th, 2011
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ONEMFAN Principal Larry Nowels, ONE’s U.S. policy director, urged policymakers to think through cuts to the International Affairs budget and the impact such cuts would have on ongoing national security efforts in a recent op-ed in The Hill. Nowels points to the reform effort in the Obama Administration as evidence that U.S. development programs recognize the need to become more efficient and effective and better respond to the challenges, both here and abroad. Read the full piece here and see excerpts below:

“Smartly, some among the Obama foreign assistance team have been scrutinizing their agency budgets for some time and identifying where cuts can be made. In a speech three weeks ago hosted by the Center for Global Development, Raj Shah, the Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, acknowledged that USAID would need to do “more with less” or at least with a stagnant budget. Administrator Shah previewed some reductions, announcing the graduation from foreign aid of at least seven countries by 2015, the closure of expensive offices in Europe and Tokyo, and administrative savings of $50 million over five years.”

“Now, the RSC is again calling for USAID’s termination, but offers no suggestions on where or who would manage the roughly $18 billion in programs overseen by the agency. And if the assumption is that the State Department or some other government agency would assume this responsibility, rolling their budgets back to 2008 would not exactly prepare for an orderly transition. Who would conduct oversight to ensure the funds are spent as intended and not lost to corruption or mismanagement? And most of all, who would provide the development expertise of experienced USAID staff that are responsible for planning, implementing, and measuring impact of our foreign aid dollars?”

“This month marks the beginning of what is sure to be a difficult and contentious year-long, and perhaps years-long, debate over U.S. spending. Foreign aid should and will be part of that discussion and cuts are certain, whether they come from the Administration or Congress. But my hope is that they will be “smart” cuts that will not minimize the goal of advancing American interests, scale back aid programs that have proven to be effective, or stifle promising new initiatives that will bring greater efficiency, accountability, and impact to that less-than-1% of the budget that is foreign aid.”

Sara Messer, policy manager for aid effectiveness at MFAN Partner ONE, posted a blog today about a significant leap forward for aid transparency and accountability that occurred earlier this week. On Tuesday the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) Steering Committee met and agreed upon a new set of standards for publishing aid information—establishing a common language and format. Several MFAN Partners were key to behind-the-scenes work around IATI, including Publish What You Fund whose director Karin Christensen commented, “For the first time, a standard exists which means more aid information will actually be better aid information. And that is what we need to make aid transparent; not only to other governments, and aid agencies, but to the public in all of our countries too.” When everyone can see how much aid is being spent where, and on what, governments – whether giving or receiving aid – can be held accountable by their citizens for spending it well.” Read more of Messer’s recap and the important next steps toward greater accountability here.

Building a Better, Safer World Starting on Capitol Hill

Thursday, February 10th, 2011
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A Guest Post by Mary Deering

Advocacy Program Manager, Truman National Security Project

Two weeks ago representatives from NGO’s, the private sector, and retired military service members convened on Capitol Hill to meet face-to-face with close to two thirds of freshman legislators and their staffs. The day, orchestrated by the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, was focused on educating these new lawmakers on the importance of the International Affairs budget to our national security and economic prosperity. At a time when budgets are tight, it is more important than ever that our members of Congress  see how a strong and effective International Affairs budget is a wise investment for the American people.

Broad, bipartisan groups of constituents criss-crossed the Hill, traveling from meeting to meeting throughout the morning to make the case for  a strong and effective International Affairs Budget. We also shared with the new Members that groundbreaking reforms to make foreign assistance programs work more efficiently and effectively are already underway. Thanks to a lot of hard work by, Secretary of State Clinton, USAID Administrator Raj Shah, and Millennium Challenge Corporation CEO Daniel Yohannes  and others, new plans for making programs more transparent and accountable are already in place.

Our message to the members tnspof Congress was simple. Even in tough economic times, a strong and effective International Affairs Budget is worth every dime. Investing in democracy, development, and diplomacy serves our economic interests here at home as well and our national security. As I accompanied Truman National Security Project veteran Lt. General Norm Seip (US Air Force, Retired) and his group to meetings with several new US Senators, the national security and economic arguments for continuing our development work abroad had the most resounding impact. One thing is clear: development is not charity — it is part and parcel of our national security and it has very real impacts on the global economy.

Foreign assistance programs and military strategies both have the ability to build a better, safer world. Our military cannot be everywhere all at once and military efforts are much more costly than foreign assistance efforts in terms of blood and treasure. As Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said, “development is a lot cheaper than sending soldiers.” Conflicts abroad are becoming harder to contain by military action alone as they become transnational and carried out by non-state actors. Thwarting these conflicts with stable, economically viable states, rather than reacting with military intervention once conflict ensues, is critical.

We must seize this opportunity to educate Americans about foreign assistance spending and the crucial role it plays. As budget discussions ramp up, it will become a target. This is especially important at a time when we will rely heavily on development efforts in strategically important states such as Afghanistan and Pakistan. As we transfer from a military to civilian operation in Iraq, maintaining stability in the region will hinge on the success – and the existence – of development programs.

Wilson Center’s Sewell weighs in on QDDR

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011
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sewell

In a recent post on the Wilson Center’s “The New Security Beat” blog, senior scholar John Sewell offers his perspective on the State Department’s Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR), which was released in December.

Sewell applauds the QDDR’s effort to empower the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), particularly around giving leadership of President Obama’s signature initiatives on food security and global health to USAID.  He also highlights the internal reform agenda undertaken by the Agency, called “USAID Forward,” which places a premium on evaluation and results.

The key question for Sewell is how well will the QDDR be implemented.  He lists several challenges to effective implementation, including:

  • support from Congress (“New legislation undoubtedly will be needed. Without congressional support, it will be hard to effect all the reforms called for in both documents.”);
  • culture change at State and USAID;
  • defining the process for selecting which countries receive U.S. assistance (“So, will the choices be driven by focus areas and need? Or will immediate political issues continue to drive country choice?”);
  • budget authority (“But in the real world, there will be strong differences of opinion between State and USAID, and how they are reconciled is never mentioned.”); and
  • timeline (“Some can be put in place quickly and many are underway; others will take much longer, and some, presumably, will require new legislation…If everything is a priority, overload will result.”).

Sewell provides a recipe for achieving the impact the QDDR hopes to achieve: “If the QDDR is to succeed it must have strong administration support, a congressional group (preferably bipartisan) to craft needed legislation, and strong support from civil society organizations and business.”

What do you think of his analysis?

To read the entire piece, click here.