Gender and Social Inclusion

Social inclusion is essential to MCC’s ability to succeed in its mission of achieving poverty reduction through economic growth. Gender and social inequality are known constraints to sustained economic growth at the national level. Research shows that the benefits from development programs are unequally shared with women and other marginalized populations.

Gender inequality costs sub-Saharan Africa $95 billion each year, or six percent of the region’s GDP, as described in the United Nations Development Programme’s Africa Human Development Report 2016. The World Bank estimated that productivity could increase in some countries by as much as 25 percent if the barriers that prevented women from entering the workforce were eliminated. Ultimately, the social, political and economic costs of social exclusion—whether due to income, gender, region, ethnicity, age, religion or disability—are significant.


With the help of an MCC grant, Nino Zambakhidze started a successful dairy farm and is now helping other Georgian women just like her.

Women’s economic empowerment is fundamental to achieving MCC’s mission of reducing poverty through economic growth. Empowering women leads to stronger economies, increases in household incomes, and higher profits for businesses.

MCC’s Commitment to Gender Integration and Social Inclusion

Through its Gender Policy, first adopted in 2006, MCC requires that gender issues are integrated throughout the threshold and compact cycle, from the initial country selection and assessment to the development and design of programs, project implementation, the monitoring of program results, and evaluation of program impacts.

Country Selection and Assessment

Three of the 20 indicators on the MCC scorecard used to assess countries’ commitment to just and democratic governance, investment in its people, and economic freedom relate to gender. The Gender in the Economy indicator measures a government’s commitment to promoting gender equality by providing women and men with the same legal ability to participate in the economy. MCC’s scorecard also includes indicators that measure a government’s commitment to girls primary and secondary education.

Program Design and Implementation

After a country is selected, MCC identifies the key binding constraints to economic growth, which includes an analysis of social and gender inequalities that may characterize the economy or shape policies and institutions and influence how economic growth impacts poverty and different groups within a society. In designing programs, MCC seeks to fund activities that will generate significant and measurable increases in incomes of large numbers of people in partner countries, including significant gains for the poor. As part of that process, MCC analyzes potential beneficiaries, including how different demographic and geographic groups (including women and other marginalized population) will benefit from proposed interventions.

Each MCC investment requires a Social and Gender Integration Plan (SGIP), which provides a comprehensive roadmap for social inclusion and gender integration throughout compact and threshold programs. Payment of the second disbursement of compact funds is contingent on a partner country completing and MCC approving this plan.

Matt Sloan/Mathematica

According to an impact evaluation by Mathematica Policy Research, girls attending MCC-funded IMAGINE schools in Niger had higher enrollment rates, lower absenteeism rates, and higher math and French test scores than those in schools in comparison villages.

Data Monitoring and Evaluation

Good data yields good policy. Through its monitoring and evaluation efforts, MCC gathers and analyzes data on its beneficiaries, including by gender as well as by key socio-economic traits. Credible, reliable and comparable sex-disaggregated data is necessary for making smarter investment decisions, identifying what works and what doesn’t, and designing programs to maximize growth and poverty reduction. Improving collection and accessibility of gender data at MCC and globally will improve use of our economic tools.

MCC and the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity initiative

Through the agency’s investment model, MCC consistently works with partner countries to unlock the economic potential of women and break down financial, legal, and cultural barriers that prevent women from fully engaging in their countries’ economies. In line with the White House Women’s Global Development and Prosperity initiative (W-GDP), MCC will continue to work to reform the policies and institutions that shape the future of nations, while creating opportunities for progress in sectors that have for too long held women back. Through the agency’s investment model, MCC consistently works with partner countries to unlock the economic potential of women and break down financial, legal, and cultural barriers that prevent women from fully engaging in their countries’ economies.

Examples of MCC’s Work in Gender and Social Inclusion


The ability of individuals to be productive members of society starts with the opportunities available to them during childhood and adolescence. Through school construction and rehabilitation targeted to communities that need it most, MCC increases access to schools and supports policy reform and teacher training that creates an effective learning environment. Many of MCC’s education programs include a component to address girl’s educational access because we believe that investing in girls’ education is critical to the ability of women and girls to contribute to the productivity of the economy.

Girls learn new skills at an MCC-funded high school in El Salvador’s Northern Zone. The rehabilitation of the high schools alone is expected to benefit more than 9,700 students every year.

MCC’s compact with El Salvador focuses on the systemic barriers that limit girls’ educational success. MCC is supporting efforts to address gender inequality and bias in the classroom, curriculum reform, and training teachers and students’ families to be aware of how not to perpetuate gender stereotypes. In close partnership with the Government of El Salvador, MCC will also focus on adolescent girls’ empowerment and young men’s redefinition of masculinity to reduce the gender-based violence that is pervasive in the country.


Nina, a senior at San Diego State University-Georgia studying computer engineering, was also a counselor at the 2018 Women in Science Camp where she helped guide  activities and shared her experience in the STEM field with young campers.

In Georgia, MCC focuses on providing women and girls with the skills they need to succeed economically through increasing women’s participation in STEM degree programs. To attract and retain girls and minorities in the new U.S. accredited STEM bachelor’s degree program offered by San Diego State University and three Georgian public partner universities, MCC supports targeted outreach and recruitment efforts as well as scholarships.


According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), approximately 22 percent of the world’s population—including 620 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa—lacks access to electricity. The sustainable provision of electricity—a resource crucial to human development—can promote better health and education within communities and free up large amount of time and labor. There is also a close correlation between income levels and access to modern sources of energy. An estimated 70 percent of the world’s poor are women, many of whom live in rural areas without electricity.

In Benin, MCC’s compact is focused on increasing electricity supply, including to women and the urban and rural poor within the country. Benin’s utility needs to be financially viable and able to provide accessible and affordable electricity, including to low-income populations. To reach unserved rural and peri-urban communities, MCC is co-financing off-grid, clean energy solutions. A Women’s Energy Entrepreneurship activity will equip women with the skills to leverage electricity and the sale of energy products to increase their incomes.

Three scholarship recipients pose together on the roof of the Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi’s Blantyre office in Malawi.

MCC’s power sector reform project in Malawi included a grant facility to promote social and gender-responsive approaches to natural resource management, which impacts the country’s power generation capability through its hydropower plants. Also through the Malawi Compact, the Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (ESCOM), the country’s electric utility, created a Gender and Social Inclusion unit and is now leading the way in mainstreaming women’s participation in the energy sector—training employees and developing opportunities for the next generation of female engineers. ESCOM instituted gender policies and introduced programs and scholarships to attract female engineers as part of the Malawi Compact.

Health, Water and Sanitation

Celestina, an MCC beneficiary in Cabo Verde, stands next to her home where she now has indoor plumbing thanks to MCC's compact.

Credit: MCA-Cabo Verde II

Thanks to an MCC-funded project in Cabo Verde that provided low-cost household connections to water and sanitation networks, Celestina has clean water coming directly to her home. She now spends less time collecting water and has a private, indoor toilet.

Women, girls, the poor and marginalized groups bear the bulk of the burdens associated with poor access to health services and to water, sanitation, and hygiene. MCC invests in infrastructure, social and environmental safeguards, policy reforms, and education and training to increase access to and sustainability of water, sanitation and hygiene.

MCC investments are expanding access to and affordability of vital water and sanitation services to help people—especially women, the poor, and other disadvantaged populations—to lift themselves out of poverty. In Cabo Verde, MCC worked with the government to reform the country’s water and sanitation institutions, including creating a unit dedicated to expanding access and affordability of water services.

More than one-third of children under five years old in Indonesia experience stunting. Through the Indonesia Compact, MCC supported a health and nutrition program to provide knowledge and access to balanced nutrition for mothers and children to reduce stunting and increase males’ roles and responsibilities in ensuring maternal and child health and nutrition.