Programs and Partnerships

All around the world, we have seen how even modest investments in the abilities and potential of women and girls can yield transformative results not just for women and girls themselves, but for their families and communities. S/GWI works across the U.S. interagency including diplomatic missions overseas to identify organizations in countries around the world that are striving to meet the critical needs of women and girls.


The Women’s Entrepreneurship Fund

The State Department and have partnered to expand access to capital for one million women entrepreneurs in 83 countries through the Women’s Entrepreneurship Fund. When lenders respond to a woman entrepreneur’s loan request on Kiva’s online platform, the Fund will match the crowdfunders dollar for dollar, leveraging contributions from corporations, multilaterals, and private philanthropy.

As part of the Fund, the Department is supporting data collection and analysis to measure how effective the initiative is in expanding women’s access to finance. The data will illustrate the financial needs and activity of women entrepreneurs around the world by measuring several indicators, including the size of loans women are taking on, in which industry, and for what purpose.

The Alliance for Artisan Enterprise

The Alliance for Artisan Enterprise is a public-private partnership with the U.S. Department of State and the Aspen Institute. It brings together artisan businesses, artisan support organizations, corporations, foundations, government and multilateral agencies, and individuals working to support the full potential of artisan enterprise around the world. The Alliance leverages the collective strength of its members to break down barriers commonly faced in the artisan sector.

Recently, the Alliance launched the Artisan Innovation Workshop, a tool that brings together stakeholders to address barriers artisans face in the process to source, create and bring products to market. By bringing together stakeholders from across the value chain, this model creates the kind of collaboration and creativity that we need to find real, tangible solutions for local artisan businesses.

The tool will also drive change on a broader level. Artisan activity takes place in the informal economy, and we don’t have enough data on the sector. The workshops will allow us to collect data, identify gaps and trends, and then respond to them. Through this tool, we’ll start to see some of the bigger trends, which will allow the U.S. government, along with the Alliance, to bring our full weight to bear in finding solutions.

The Equal Futures Partnership

In 2012, the United States launched the Equal Futures Partnership, an innovative multilateral initiative designed to encourage member countries to empower women economically and politically. What began with 11 governments has grown to include more than 30 countries and the European Union, along with private sector, non-profit, and multilateral partners.

Equal Futures partner countries commit to taking actions -- including legal, regulatory, and policy reforms --- to ensure women fully participate in public life at the local, regional, and national levels, and that women lead and benefit from inclusive economic growth.

Countries committed to promoting women’s political and economic participation are welcome to join Equal Futures. Government representatives and other interested stakeholders should email for more information, or visit

Let Girls Learn

The State Department is one of several U.S. agencies that are part of the Let Girls Learn initiative. As a pillar of the U.S. Strategy to Empower Adolescent Girls, this initiative works to address the range of challenges preventing adolescent girls from attaining a quality education that empowers them to reach their full potential.

The State Department has led the charge in addressing barriers that restrict adolescent girls’ empowerment, and is supporting over $10 million in programs focused on adolescent girls in over 16 countries.

Since 2015, the State Department has brought together secondary school girls from several countries to build their science, technology, engineering, arts and design, and mathematics (STEAM) skills at a WiSci STEAM camp. The camp empowers girls to pursue careers in STEAM, develop their leadership potential, interact with mentors, and build camaraderie and networks that will propel them to new opportunities in STEAM fields. The 2017 camp will bring together girls from Liberia, Malawi, Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, and the United States.

In 2015, the State Department and USAID launched the Let Girls Learn Challenge Fund, a $25 million investment, which takes a deliberate and innovative approach to bringing stakeholders together to collectively design and pilot new programs in Malawi and Tanzania.

The Gender-Based Violence Emergency Response and Protection Initiative

Under this public private partnership, the Office works with the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor on a number of programs in partnership with a group of NGOs led by Vital Voices and with support from the Avon Foundation and the Hilton Foundation.

For example, the State Department has invested $1 million in an effort to tackle early and forced marriage in countries impacted by the Syrian refugee crisis. Program efforts include mobilizing caregivers, religious leaders, and community stakeholders to increase understanding of the benefits of delaying marriage for both girls and communities and address the perception that early and forced marriage is a way to protect girls. The initiative also aims to support civil society organizations and others working on the protection of at-risk girls and the provision of services to married girls, as well as programs that underscore the value of continuing access to education for girls through the secondary level.

In 2016, the Office announced new funding to support programs working to break the silence and end female genital mutilation/cutting in West Africa and Southeast Asia. The programs will support grassroots groups that engage a wide range of stakeholders, including survivors, men and boys, religious and traditional leaders, health practitioners, and policymakers.


We currently have five active programming initiativesthat support locally-based organizations and seek to strengthen implementing partners’ capacity to bring about positive and lasting change in their communities.

Accountability Initiative

3 countries | $8.35 million

To help bring justice to survivors of gender-based violence and to build the capacity of justice systems to effectively address this societal ill in conflict-affected countries in Africa, the Department of State launched the Accountability Initiative in 2014.

The Accountability Initiative—implemented and funded in collaboration with the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs—seeks to decrease impunity for gender-based violence in conflict-affected environments, scale judicial capacity, and restore public confidence in the rule of law.

Today, the Accountability Initiative is strengthening the promise of justice in countries like the Central African Republic (CAR), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and Liberia.

In the DRC, for example, the Department is helping to improve criminal case documentation and management processes in the eastern provinces.

In CAR, the Department is supporting legal centers in eight CAR cities and operates mobile clinics to serve three other cities to provide medical, psycho-social, and legal assistance to SGBV victims and vulnerable populations, and educate local communities about the harm SGBV imposes on women and communities, the legal rights of victims of SGBV crimes, and services available at the legal centers. The project in CAR also trains justice sector actors to better handle and conduct investigations of sexual and gender-based violence crimes.

In Liberia, the Department’s approach involves victim support and public outreach, combined with judicial reform, to transform systems that today perpetuate sexual and gender-based violence. We are working with the Liberian judiciary to enhance the efficiency and transparency of the criminal court that handles sexual and gender-based violence cases to support survivors and to build the public’s confidence in a working justice system.

Afghan Women’s Leadership Initiative

7 provinces | $10 million

The Afghan Women Leadership Initiative (AWLI) is a United States government program aimed at empowering Afghan women and girls to fully participate in their communities. The initiative promotes women in the economy, increases young women’s access to education, invests in adolescent girls to delay marriage, trains women survivors of gender-based violence, and helps women’s shelters become financially sustainable.

Providing Women Safe Spaces and Livelihood Training

AWLI supports women’s protection centers that provide safe spaces for women escaping dangerous or violent situations. The initiative offers vocational training that ranges from baking and restaurant management to financial literacy and mentorship. The trainings prepare women for the workforce while also generating income for the centers.

Promoting Women in the Economy

Changing business environments takes time. That is why AWLI offers Afghan women courses on how to market their goods or services and empowers them to be a part of the economy. The initiative also works towards long-term, national-level change through projects that give businesswomen a platform to raise their concerns to policymakers in Afghanistan.

Investing in Adolescent Girls and Young Women

AWLI has programs that address early and forced marriage, including a campaign that highlights the negative health, economic, and social consequences of this practice for girls, their families and communities. The initiative offers life-skills training to young girls to help them build leadership skills and know their rights. AWLI also gives young women scholarships to attend the Asian University for Women in Bangladesh, and the opportunity to complete a fellowship with government bodies, non-profit organizations, and for-profit companies.

The Secretary’s Full Participation Fund

54 countries | $ 23.18 million

When U.S. diplomats wanted to do something to end female genital mutilation/cutting in Guinea, they turned to the Office of Global Women’s Issues.

And thanks to the Secretary’s Full Participation Fund, we were able to support their effort to bring together a coalition of partners for a national campaign to end this harmful practice. To date, more than 65,000 girls have been impacted by the campaign, and 265 of Guinea’s villages and townships have banned the practice.

That’s just one of the many programs we’ve lifted up through the Secretary’s Full Participation Fund, which was launched in 2013 to help American diplomats and development professionals better advance gender equality and women’s empowerment. Managed by the Office, the Fund provides seed money to diplomatic posts, bureaus and offices to support new or scaled-up innovative gender integration initiatives to advance the Secretary’s policy guidance on gender equality.

The FP Fund enables the Department to test and pilot innovative ways to tackle entrenched gender inequality, unlocking the potential of women and girls to lead healthy, safe, and productive lives – and ultimately, contribute to greater economic growth and stronger societies.

Over the course of three years, the Fund has awarded nearly $25 million to support nearly 45,000 beneficiaries in over 50 countries. Projects range from promoting women’s economic empowerment and participation in civic and political life to preventing and responding to gender-based violence and expanding access to technology for women and girls.

The Comprehensive Gender-based Violence Initiative

A variety of countries | $6.1 million

Under the Comprehensive Gender-based Violence Initiative, the Office is working in coordination with interagency efforts, and leveraging needs assessments in Malawi, Tanzania, Laos, and Nepal, to supporting a range of prevention and response activities.

Global Women, Peace, and Security Initiative

30 countries | $ 16 million

The Global Women, Peace, and Security Initiative was launched in 2012 to support sustainable projects that advance the outcomes and commitments outlined in the U.S. National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security.

Since 2013, the Office of Global Women’s Issues has given more than $16 million to support local programs that advance peace and security in dozens of countries dealing with insecurity. For hard-to-reach, underrepresented groups, particularly in areas of conflict and instability, these small grants help to fill a critical gap.

The grants aim to advance women’s inclusion in peacebuilding, conflict prevention, and decision-making institutions; to protect women from gender-based violence; and to support investments in women’s employment and educations to promote development outcomes, including stability.

This initiative has supported more than 50 grants in 30 countries around the world, reaching a wide range of NGOs and individuals ranging from journalists to victims of sexual assault to community leaders.

In Colombia and Mexico, our programming couples soccer clubs with afterschool tutoring and life skills, building the confidence of over 700 adolescent girls from underserved communities in an effort to increase school attendance and participation in the classroom. In the Philippines, we work to build resilient communities in areas vulnerable to extremism, poverty, and climate change. In communities that previously faced violence, women leaders received training on rural enterprise development, product development, and marketing. The participants in turn trained more than 1,500 women and girls in their communities. These are just two snapshots of how this initiative works to promote peace and security in local communities.