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Remarks by CEO Alice Albright at the CARE International Women's Day Dinner

March 15, 2024

As prepared by Alice Albright


Hello and good evening. It’s an incredible honor to celebrate International Women’s Day with you all. And it has been wonderful to hear from so many inspirational women leaders tonight.

State of women and girls

As we’ve heard, we are at a crossroads for women and girls worldwide. Despite the efforts of organizations and governments around the world, we are not on track to achieve gender equality by 2030, as SDG5 guides us to do.

While there’s been progress in some areas, if we keep up our current pace, we will not close key gaps for decades. For example, we won’t end laws that discriminate against women until 286 years from now. That’s too long to wait.

The COVID-19 pandemic and climate change have disproportionately impacted women and girls, and their access to quality education, to health care, and to economic opportunity. 

Women have always faced these barriers, but because of these setbacks, our work to empower women and girls matters now more than ever…and our efforts must remain urgent and relentless.

MCC and gender

But what can development organizations like the Millennium Challenge Corporation do about it? MCC has a 20-year history of reducing poverty through inclusive economic growth.

Our gender team, led by Kat Ntep and Jennifer Windsor, who are here tonight, ensures that our programs get to the root of the problems that hold women back. That’s why having provided nearly $17 billion in grants to 47 countries on 6 continents we are so proud that our work is expected to impact almost 200 million women and girls.

Our programs are a powerful tool for the U.S. government to incentivize good governance and democracy and, in part, that means our partners must make choices that positively impact all gender identities. 

Gender programmatic examples

So, how do we encourage these choices? First, we work with country partners to understand where gender inequality is showing up and how it is limiting a country’s path to growth. Then, we start looking for solutions. These can take the form of addressing structural challenges or creating access to new opportunities.

When I think of structural changes, I am reminded of our work in Morocco and Lesotho, where we strengthened land inheritance rights for women so that they can be recognized as legal landowners and then will have a better shot at using their land for economic purposes.

And we’re increasing economic opportunity, too. I am reminded of our work in Cote d’Ivoire and Kosovo where we equip women with new technical skills so they may enter sectors typically dominated by men such as engineering and digital. And in Indonesia, we are promoting access to finance for women owned businesses.

Let’s fight onward

These are but a few examples from MCC’s first 20 years, and as we celebrate our 20th anniversary -- which we’re doing this year -- we’re also looking toward the future. \We have launched a new Inclusion and Gender Strategy to ensure that gender efforts are embedded in everything we do.

We are also looking to expand the pool of countries that could be candidates for MCC so that we can take our work to more places and help women and girls in countries still facing poverty and inequality.

That’s why we’ve got bi-partisan legislation in Congress right now that will expand MCC’s reach to 30 additional countries in Latin America, Eastern Europe, the Indo-Pacific region, and a few in Africa, places where investments in women and girls will be transformational.

Thank You

Tonight, we are in a room full of changemakers, and I want to thank you for all you do to promote a better future for women and girls with the same commitment to cause that we have at MCC. Our collective efforts are crucial to developing a world where women and girls aren’t an afterthought but are instead leaders given the space to realize their ambitions and their dreams.

Together, we will build that future.

Thank you!