Gender and Social Inclusion

Last year, MCC and partners launched TechMousso, a first-of-its-kind open gender data competition held in Côte d’Ivoire.

by Katherine Vaughn, Data Support Specialist for Gender and Social Inclusion

Social inclusion is essential to MCC’s ability to succeed in its mission of achieving poverty reduction through economic growth 1 . 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 6 percent of the region’s GDP 2 . In some countries, productivity could increase by as much as 25% if the barriers that prevent women from entering the workforce were eliminated 3 . Ultimately, the social, political and economic costs of social exclusion—whether due to gender, ethnicity, class, religion or disability—are significant 4 .

MCC’s Commitment to Gender Integration and Social Inclusion

Through its Gender Policy, first adopted in 2006, MCC requires that gender issues are integrated into the development and design of programs, the assessment and implementation of projects, the monitoring of program results, and evaluation of program impacts.

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 second education.

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.

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. Good data yields good policy: 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.

Examples of MCC’s Work in Gender and Social Inclusion

Education

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 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.

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, reforming curriculum, and training teachers and students’ families to be aware of perpetuating 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 which is pervasive in the country.

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 joint degree program offered by San Diego State University, MCC supports targeted outreach and recruitment efforts as well as scholarships to attract and retain girls and minorities in the new joint degree programs.

Energy

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 5 . Electricity is crucial to human development; the sustainable provision of electricity can promote better health and education within communities and free up large amount of time and labor 6 . There is 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.

MCC’s power sector reform project in Malawi includes a grants facility to promote social and gender-responsive approaches to natural resource management, which impacts the country’s power generation capability through its hydropower plants.

Health, Water and Sanitation

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 is working 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.

MCC is supporting reforms to the country’s major water and sanitation institutions and the development of a financially sound basis for the delivery of water and sanitation services

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. Photo credit: MCA-Cabo Verde II

More than one-third of children under five years old in Indonesia experience stunting. MCC supports 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.