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Fact Sheet: Vice President Harris Launches Women in the Sustainable Economy Initiative, Totaling Over $900 Million in Commitments

November 16, 2023

In the 21st century, no economy can get ahead if half of its population is left behind. In our rapidly modernizing global economy, the Biden-Harris Administration is committed to ensuring women are prepared for, and part of, the industries of the future.

As part of U.S. government efforts to advance the 2023 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) theme of "Creating a Resilient and Sustainable Future for All," Vice President Harris is announcing the launch of the Women in the Sustainable Economy (WISE) Initiative, which aims to bolster women's economic empowerment globally by expanding access to employment, training, leadership roles, and financial resources in the industries critical to our future and the future of our planet. The Vice President is announcing more than $900 million in commitments by governments, private sector companies, foundations, and civil society to bolster women's economic participation in sectors such as clean energy, fisheries, recycling, forest management, and environmental conservation.

This initiative is part of the Biden-Harris Administration's commitment to advancing women's economic empowerment at home and around the world. In line with the U.S. National Strategy on Gender Equity and Equality and the U.S. Strategy on Global Women's Economic Security, it builds on the Vice President's work earlier this year in Ghana, when she announced $1 billion in investments to advance the economic empowerment of women globally, including a focus on closing the digital gender divide. In the past eight months, the Vice President's leadership has galvanized more than $2.4 billion in investments to advance the economic status of women around the world.

Women's economic opportunities are linked to their ability to control, access, and use land, energy, and water, which in turn improves communities' and economies' food security and agricultural productivity. While women grow a majority of food around the world, they are less likely to own the land they farm and women entrepreneurs are less likely to have access to capital and markets. By supporting women's work and leadership in the sectors critical to the future of our planet, we promote women's economic security, and we advance work to address the causes and effects of climate change and bolster economic prosperity.

The U.S.-led WISE initiative is a public-private partnership that brings together governments, private sector companies, foundations, and civil society to bolster women's economic opportunity through three key pillars:

  1. Promoting well-paying, quality jobs for women in energy, land, and water use and management by ensuring women have the skills and training; access to decent jobs in the formal economy; labor and social protections; and other support needed to compete and safely work.
  2. Supporting women-owned, -led, and -managed businesses in energy, land, and water use and management through increased access to banking and financial services, networks, markets, trade and investment opportunities, and technical assistance.
  3. Eliminating barriers to women's economic participation in energy, land, and water use and management by advancing girls' access to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education; and addressing barriers that limit equal access to and control over assets.

Flagship WISE initiatives seek to:

  • Improve Economic Opportunities for Women in the Energy Sector

The Engendering Industries program, led by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), increases economic opportunities for women in lucrative, higher-paying, technical and leadership jobs within predominantly male-dominated sectors—such as water, agriculture, energy, including renewables, and information and communication technology, among others. The program also helps build the capacity of organizational leaders to advance gender equality and women's empowerment across their organizations, thereby advancing women's economic security and increasing organizational resilience, competitiveness, and business effectiveness.

  • Increase Women's Access to Climate Finance

USAID's Climate Gender Equity Fund (CGEF), a public-private partnership, expands financial inclusion for women-led organizations and businesses focused on advancing sustainable economic growth by increasing access to climate finance for investment vehicles, intermediaries, businesses, and community-based organizations in developing countries. USAID is joined by Amazon, Reckitt, and the Visa Foundation as founding partners of this first-ever climate finance facility dedicated to gender-responsive climate action.

  • Promote Women's Access to Land Rights

The Equal Stake in the Soil initiative, led by the United States Department of State, advances women's land rights as a foundation for achieving gender equality and sustainable development, by supporting coalitions of civil society organizations in legal and policy reform and social norm change efforts. Established coalitions are linked to Stand for Her Land, a broader global land rights campaign.

  • Strengthen Women's Inclusion in the Blue Economy

The Building Economic Inclusion via the Blue Economy initiative, led by the United States Department of State, provides financial and technical assistance to pilot or scale projects, products, and services by women entrepreneurs and young professionals in maritime sectors, thereby promoting business growth and resilience in the fishing, agriculture, green business, and tourism markets.

WISE partners are committing more than $900 million in direct commitments and aligned efforts that will support women's participation in the sustainable economy.

Government-aligned efforts include:

  • Australia committed approximately $160 million through 2032 for initiatives that advance women's economic security in green and blue sectors, including by mobilizing capital and increasing their financial inclusion; promoting women's economic leadership across the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region and protecting the rights of women migrant workers in these sectors; supporting the APEC Care Compact to strengthen and invest in the care economy–enabling women's economic participation across green, blue, and other sectors; and supporting sustainable infrastructure across Southeast Asia that fosters gender equality, social inclusion, and disaster risk reduction.
  • Canada committed $12.52 million through 2025 under its Feminist International Assistance Policy for several initiatives, such as $7.24 million for projects that support women-owned, -led, and -managed, small- and medium-scale enterprises in Ghana to develop profitable and locally appropriate solutions to contribute to Ghana's transition to a low-carbon green economy with Ashesi University and Ghana Climate Innovation Centre; and $5.28 million to support women in the coastal communities of Senegal, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, and Guinea to build their capacity for revenue-generating activities in the blue circular economy with the Collège d'enseignement général et professionnel de la Gaspésie et des Iles.
  • Ireland is announcing over $5 million through 2028 for women's rights organizations working at the intersection of climate change and gender equality, including on climate justice and adaptation.
  • Japan committed approximately $31 million through 2027, to initiatives in Japan and across Asia, Africa, and the Middle East that reduce the harmful impacts of climate change, enhance resilience, contribute to sustainable forest management, and increase women's employment and leadership opportunities. Through these efforts, Japan will help women and vulnerable populations receive critical climate change information, develop their careers and hold more decision-making authority, and gain access to financial and social services.
  • Mexico committed approximately $68 million in 2024 through the "Sembrando Vida" project to promote women's economic participation and remove the barriers they face by supporting women farmers and strengthening agroforestry systems in Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, Cuba, and Belize. Additionally, domestic efforts will continue to increase rural women's access to credit.
  • Norway committed approximately $24.1 million between 2023 and 2027 in support of the "Employment Promotion for Women for the Green Transformation in Africa (WE4D)" program with the goal of improving the employment and economic situation of women in Africa, especially in companies and sectors that promote the green transformation of the economy.
  • The United States committed $163 million to advance women's economic security both domestically and globally, including efforts to promote jobs for women in sectors related to energy, land, and water use and management, support women's access to climate finance, advance girls' access to STEM education and training, and eliminate barriers to women's equal access to land and resources. This includes both direct commitments to the four flagship WISE initiatives and aligned global commitments from the Department of State and USAID, as well as aligned domestic commitments from the Department of Energy, Department of Labor, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Department of Agriculture.

Aligned efforts by private sector, philanthropies, and civil society organizations include:

  • Amazon committed $53 million to accelerate women's climate innovation, including $3 million for CGEF—of which Amazon is a founding member—and $50 million for Amazon to invest directly in climate tech companies run by women.
  • CARE committed $10 million by 2026 to support at least 10 million women and girls in ten African countries to—in partnership with national governments and the private sector—form and strengthen women's savings and loans groups to advance women-led climate-smart economic opportunities and climate-resilient food initiatives.
  • Citi mobilized $130 million in local currency financing in Kenya to expand access to reliable solar energy to an estimated 1.2 million households including 590,000 low-income women.
  • Clarmondial committed at least $25 million by 2030 to achieve gender parity across their borrowers, leveraging the Food Securities Fund - designed and implemented by Clarmondial - to provide working capital to value chains while promoting environmental and social accountability, including on gender equality.
  • Delphos International, Ltd. is announcing its intent to mobilize $25 million through 2028 to support women smallholder farmers and entrepreneurs to advance sustainable environmental solutions in agriculture, energy, and other green sectors.
  • The International Union for the Conservation of Nature committed $13 million from 2023 to 2025 to support gender-responsive programming in environmental activities across wildlife species management, climate adaptation and resilience, restoration, and agricultural systems and land use. These efforts will strengthen women's and girls' participation in and access to environmental roles, opportunities, benefits, and resources.
  • LinkedIn committed $4 million from 2021 through 2025 to the Green Skills Fund to support leading nonprofit organizations expanding access to green skills and green jobs for underrepresented and low-income workers globally--including women, and is committed to providing LinkedIn Learning courses focusing on green skills and women's leadership skills. In addition, LinkedIn committed to conducting research, sharing data-driven insights, and identifying and promoting policies to address the gender gap and promote women's leadership in the green and blue sectors, drawing on its 1 billion members in more than 200 countries and territories to better understand the specific challenges and opportunities for women in these industries.
  • The Mastercard Impact Fund, administered by the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth, is announcing $9 million through 2027 to improve the financial health of women-led micro and small enterprises in Pakistan, Peru, and Vietnam through the Strive Women initiative. In partnership with CARE, Strive Women will reach more than 6 million entrepreneurs in total, the majority being women, through campaigns, with tailored financial products and support services. The program will also seek to help small businesses transition to green practices and test solutions for childcare support, while building an ecosystem to catalyze broader change.
  • PepsiCo and the PepsiCo Foundation committed over $17 million from 2022 to 2027 to promote the participation of women in agricultural supply chains, especially those in the rural farming communities, and watershed replenishment projects such as She Feeds the World, the Global Development Alliance for Investing in Women to Strengthen Supply Chains, Agrovita, and the Greater Cape Town Water Fund. These programs will provide women in these under-served communities with access to education, skills training, economic support, market access, financing, and other resources to build a more inclusive, sustainable, and resilient food system.
  • Reckitt committed $147 million from 2020 to 2023 in over 45 countries to improve access to health and hygiene that is exacerbated by climate challenges, with a focus on increasing gender equity. This includes $3 million in 2023 to CGEF to accelerate climate finance solutions that advance gender equality and health. The Fight for Access Accelerator and Women in Innovation Fund is supporting female entrepreneurship, with 50 entrepreneurs in over 10 countries, focused on water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and health.
  • The EY organization is announcing $4 million in-kind contribution through 2028 to scale innovative social enterprises that empower women, improve livelihoods, and drive systemic change in the circular economy for plastics. In addition, EY is committed to delivering a green skills agenda, with a gender-inclusive lens, to empower the next generation of leaders. These initiatives will be complemented by EY's Entrepreneurial Winning Women program, which supports over 900 women entrepreneurs across 55 countries, with access to networks, mentorship and the resources required to scale their businesses.
  • Unilever is announcing $11 million by 2028 for this initiative to build and scale circular economies for plastics that improve livelihoods, empower women, and reduce or divert a significant portion of recyclable waste currently entering the environment. While scaling innovative market-based solutions to the plastic pollution challenge, Unilever will build the capacity of women operating within Solid Waste Management value chains.
  • Visa Foundation committed $52 million from October 2020 to October 2023 in grants and investments to support an estimated 1.4 million gender equitable and climate-smart small businesses globally. Visa Foundation will also commit a $3 million grant to the Climate Gender Equity Fund to address gender inequities that exist for women in the climate finance ecosystem and to support female entrepreneurs with the resources they need to accelerate climate change innovations.

WISE partners can either make direct commitments to the WISE initiative or commit to align their efforts with the initiative's core pillars focused on expanding opportunities for women in the sustainable economy. All WISE partners will be invited to participate in a broader community of practice. For inquiries, please contact: wise@usaid.gov.

Kamala Harris, Fact Sheet: Vice President Harris Launches Women in the Sustainable Economy Initiative, Totaling Over $900 Million in Commitments Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/367876

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