The Biden-Harris Administration issues first-ever national gender strategy to advance the full participation of all people – including women and girls – in the United States and around the world.
President Biden and Vice President Harris believe that advancing gender equity and equality is fundamental to every individual’s economic security, safety, health, and ability to exercise their most basic rights. It is also essential to economic growth and development, democracy and political stability, and the security of nations across the globe. Ensuring that all people, regardless of gender, have the opportunity to realize their full potential is, therefore, both a moral and strategic imperative.
Yet no country in the world has achieved gender equality-and we are at an inflection point. The COVID-19 pandemic has fueled a health crisis, an economic crisis, and a caregiving crisis that have magnified the challenges that women and girls, especially women and girls of color, have long faced. It has also exacerbated a “shadow pandemic” of gender-based violence in the United States and around the world. These overlapping crises have underscored that, for far too long, the status quo has left too many behind.
This moment demands that we build back better. It requires that we acknowledge and address longstanding gender discrimination and the systemic barriers to full participation that have held back women and girls. And it requires that we bring the talent and potential of all people to bear to face the challenges of our time. That’s why the Biden-Harris Administration established the White House Gender Policy Council, charged with leading the development of the first-ever National Strategy on Gender Equity and Equality, which sets forth an aspirational vision and a comprehensive agenda to advance gender equity and equality in domestic and foreign policy-and demonstrates that families, communities, and nations around the world stand to benefit.
The strategy identifies ten interconnected priorities: 1) economic security; 2) gender-based violence; 3) health; 4) education; 5) justice and immigration; 6) human rights and equality under the law; 7) security and humanitarian relief; 8) climate change; 9) science and technology; and 10) democracy, participation, and leadership. These priorities are inherently linked and must be tackled in concert.
The strategy also adopts an intersectional approach that considers the barriers and challenges faced by those who experience intersecting and compounding forms of discrimination and bias related to gender, race, and other factors, including sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion, disability, age, and socioeconomic status. This includes addressing discrimination and bias faced by Black, Latino, and Indigenous and Native American people, Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders, and other people of color.
Strategic priorities include:
Improving economic security. As we recover from the pandemic, we have the opportunity to build an economy that works for women and their families. To build back better, we will:
- Ensure that people have equal access to good jobs, including by addressing persistent gender discrimination and systemic barriers to full workforce participation.
- Invest in care infrastructure and care workers to help rebuild the economy and lower costs for working families.
- Dismantle the barriers to equal opportunity in education that undermine the ability to compete on a level playing field, recognizing that education affects future economy security.
Preventing and responding to gender-based violence. Gender-based violence is endemic in homes, schools, workplaces, the military, communities, and online-and far too often a hallmark of conflict and humanitarian crises. It exacts tremendous costs on the safety, health and economic security of survivors and their families. To prevent and response to gender-based violence, we will:
- Work to eliminate gender-based violence wherever it occurs by developing and strengthening national and global laws and policies, investing in comprehensive services for survivors, and increasing prevention efforts.
- Address sexual violence in conflict settings; the elevated risk of violence facing women human rights defenders, activists, and politicians; human trafficking both at home and abroad; and the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous people.
- Promote the safety and fair treatment of all people in the justice and immigration systems.
Increasing access to health care. Health care is a right-not a privilege. All people deserve access to high-quality, affordable health care, regardless of their zip code, income, ethnicity, race, or any other factor. To protect, improve, and expand access to health care, we will:
- Build on the historic work of the Affordable Care Act and continue to expand and improve health care globally.
- Defend the constitutional right to safe and legal abortion in the United States, established in Roe v. Wade, and promote access to sexual and reproductive health and rights both at home and abroad.
- Address the pernicious effects of health inequity, including by addressing the maternal mortality crisis in the United States, which has a disproportionate impact on Black and Native American women, and by reducing maternal mortality and morbidity abroad.
Advancing democracy, rights and full participation. Supporting women’s and girls’ full participation in social, economic, civic, and political life-and ensuring they are represented at the tables where decisions are made-is essential to progress in every other area and a precondition to advancing strong and sustainable democracies. To advance democracy, rights, and full participation, we will:
- Work to advance gender equity and equality in the law and ensure that rights on paper are fully implemented in practice.
- Work towards gender parity and diversity in leadership roles, including in peace processes, national security and defense, global health and humanitarian efforts, and in the private sector.
- Promote the leadership of women and girls in addressing the challenge of climate change and seek to close gender gaps in STEM fields so that women and girls can shape the workforce of the future.
Realizing this bold vision is a government-wide responsibility that cuts across the work of the Biden-Harris Administration in both domestic and foreign affairs. Implementing this strategy will require the leadership of every White House office and executive agency. This strategy is not just words on paper; it is a roadmap to deliver results for the American people and our partners around the world.
And it builds on the work the Biden-Harris Administration has already done to advance gender equity and equality at home and abroad. Through the American Rescue Plan, we have provided immediate relief to women and families, fully vaccinating over two-thirds of eligible Americans, reopening schools, providing direct payments to individuals, investing in domestic violence and sexual assault prevention and services, and helping child care providers keep their doors open. The American Rescue Plan also expanded the Child Tax Credit, distributing monthly payments to tens of millions of American families covering over 60 million children.
Building on the American Rescue Plan, the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal and Build Back Better Agenda are once-in-a-generation investments to support America’s working families to rebuild the economy and support women and families. Among its many transformative investments, the budget framework calls for: cutting taxes for middle class families with children, investing in the care economy and the care workforce, and lowering health care costs. To advance economic security for women and girls globally, we have established a Gender Equity and Equality Action Fund, which supports efforts to address the impact that COVID-19, climate change, conflict, and crisis have on the economic security of women and their families. And we have restored America’s leadership on the rights of women and girls on the world stage.
We have also taken action to prevent and respond to gender-based violence, including through the Independent Review Commission on Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment in the Military and by directing the Department of Education to review Title IX regulations, guidance, and policies to ensure students receive an education free from sexual violence. We continue working with Congress on meaningful legislative action, including through championing the landmark Violence Against Women Act, which passed the House in March with bipartisan support, and signing into law the Amendments to the Victims of Crime Act. And we have committed to updating and strengthening our strategy to combat gender-based violence around the world.
To advance women’s health around the world, the Biden-Harris Administration has revoked the Global Gag Rule and reinstated funding to the UNFPA. In the United States, the Administration has called for historic investments to respond to the maternal mortality crisis. The President also launched a whole-of-government effort to respond to the recent Texas law which blatantly violates women’s constitutional right to a safe and legal abortion under Roe v. Wade.
To inform our ongoing and future efforts to advance gender equity and equality at home and abroad, the strategy calls for continued accountability, consultation, and engagement as we work towards our collective vision for gender equity and equality at home and abroad. Its implementation will guide strategic planning and budgeting, policy and program development, measurement and data, and management and training. We look forward to partnering with Congress, local, state, Tribal, and territorial governments, civil society, the private sector, foreign governments, and multilateral institutions to drive progress towards the objectives outlined in this strategy. In doing so, we will advance economic growth, health and safety, and the security of our nation and the world.