Speech

April 17, 2014

As Prepared by Cassandra Q. Butts, Senior Advisor

New York City

Remarks by MCC Senior Advisor Cassandra Q. Butts on Gender Equality

Empowering Women in Emerging Economies: Achieving Real Results

Thanks so much for joining us this evening for what promises to be an insightful conversation around our shared commitment of advancing gender equality. This year, the Millennium Challenge Corporation turns 10. And I believe this milestone gives us the opportunity to pause and assess how MCC has moved the needle on turning the promise of gender equality into reality. I think we have done this in three real and fundamental ways.

I. FOCUSING ON GENDER, NOT JUST WOMEN.
Our programs focus on how both men and women can be full economic actors.  MCC works to remove gender and other social barriers that can limit who can engage in the economy and who benefits from our investments.

II. TURNING POLICY INTO PRACTICE
We have taken concrete steps to institutionalize our path-breaking Gender Policy.

Required operational procedures and milestones that include:

  • Initial Social and Gender Assessment: examines how cultural beliefs and preferences, social norms and practices, formal and informal institutions, and legal and policy frameworks affect the ability of particular social groups—including women—to participate in and benefit from growth-focused investments
  • Social and Gender Integration Plan: outlines objectives, activities and targets toward social inclusion and gender equality that must be part of all MCC project

Gender in the economy indicator:

This is 1 of 20 third-party indicators we use to evaluate countries; this one assesses a government’s commitment to gender equality in economic rights

III. EMBRACING ACCOUNTABILITY FOR GENDER EQUALITY
By demanding leadership from the very top: MCC’s CEO made gender equality a priority for the agency. He asked me—as the Senior Advisor in the CEO’s office—to lead this priority as part of my portfolio. Such strong support for gender equality sends the right message about its importance and demonstrates accountability for its success at the highest level of leadership.

By demanding that money follows action: By requiring our partners to turn policy into action, even waiting to disburse MCC funds until our gender requirements are met, we hold ourselves and our partners accountable for gender equality.

By demanding the right staff: Both MCC headquarters and our partner countries have staff dedicated specifically to social and gender assessment, including with decision-making authority.

By demanding results:

A married woman in Lesotho can now own a business and obtain a loan without her husband’s consent.

Women in Mongolia are securing titles to land, using them for collateral and becoming leaders among their communities of herders.

Women in Tanzania are benefiting from MCC-funded training that provides income-generating skills.

Girls in rural Burkina Faso are completing primary education and attending secondary schools as "firsts" in their families.

And you will hear more today about how women in Cabo Verde will have access to affordable water and sanitation because a social and gender unit established within the new national water and sanitation agency will be looking out for their interests. 

Indeed, today’s conversations moderated by Nina Easton of Fortune Magazine where MCC will join panelists from
• our partner Cabo Verde,
• Vital Voices,
• the Clinton Global Initiative,
• Standard Bank of South Africa,
• Goldman Sachs, and the
• Clinton Foundation’s No Ceilings: The Full Participation Project
will share what is possible when we value the right policies and strong institutions that facilitate the full economic participation of women. Our panelists will explore the operational realities of both including women in economic decision making and benefiting from data and evidence to strengthen our approaches.

And I want to thank our partners—Devex, Vital Voices Global Partnership and the Batonga Foundation—for supporting today’s event.

To start our conversation, please join me in welcoming our moderator Nina Easton…