We at Women Thrive applaud the appointment of Michelle Bekkering and, in addition to points highlighted below, encourage her and her team to work closely with grassroots women’s rights and gender equality organizations, and that their important, local expertise is leveraged in USAID’s work to ensure sustainable development and total poverty eradication. 

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The “Big Ideas for Women and Girls Coalition” Congratulates Michelle Bekkering on her appointment as First USAID Deputy Assistant Administrator for Women’s Empowerment

This statement is issued by coalition co-chairs Nora O’Connell, Associate Vice President for Public Policy & Advocacy, Save the Children, and Kristin Wells, Senior Director of Government Relations, CARE USA.   

The Big Ideas for Women and Girls Coalition applauds the appointment of Michelle Bekkering as the first Deputy Assistant Administrator for Women’s Empowerment in the Bureau for Economic Growth, Education, and Environment at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

U.S. leadership to place women and girls at the center of U.S. foreign policy and development assistance is not only the right thing to do, but also the smart thing to do. Evidence suggests that investing in women and girls brings high returns for economic growth, societal well-being, and global stability. A 2015 McKinsey Global Institute study found that full participation of women in the global economy would increase annual GDP in 2025 by $28 trillion, or 26%.

Ms. Bekkering brings to the position years of leadership and deep expertise in international development, global women and girls’ empowerment, and democratic governance. The Big Ideas for Women and Girls Coalition appreciates the fluency in issues related to gender equality that she brings to USAID’s longstanding work on empowering women and girls globally. The position she holds will be critical to continuing U.S. leadership in advancement of gender equality and integration of these principles throughout our development assistance policies and programs. We encourage her to work closely with other colleagues in USAID and the State Department whose work is critical to the rights and empowerment of women and girls in order to effectively coordinate and deliver maximum impact. Investing in women and girls is vital not only to U.S. foreign policy goals, but also to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, a set of global goals that were heavily influenced by the U.S. government that outline a set of commitments for a better collective future.

Our coalition looks forward to working with Deputy Assistant Administrator Bekkering to continue the important work of advancing the rights of women and girls globally.

The Big Ideas for Women and Girls Coalition brings together approximately 20 diverse NGOs as well as former US government officials, think tanks, and academics that are working to support the empowerment of women and girls globally.