This week the Trump administration announced $122 million in new programs and partnerships under the National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien speaks during a Women’s Global Development and Prosperity (W-GDP) online event, at the State Department, in Washington, Aug. 11, 2020.“This is the type of bold action to expand the efforts of the federal government, the private sector and other partners that restrict women’s ability to participate in the local economies that has been the American model for success,” Trump said.     The initiative comes in the face of fresh challenges as COVID-19 exacerbates existing gender inequalities around the world. Reports from numerous countries have shown that women are disproportionately and uniquely impacted by the coronavirus across every sphere, from health and the economy to security and social protection.   According to U.N. data, 60 percent of women’s employment is in the informal economy with limited protection. This means women are often overlooked by bailout programs seeking to reinvigorate the economy while being particularly vulnerable to poverty and food insecurity, according to Megan O’Donnell, assistant director of the Center for Global Development’s gender program. “We’ve seen evidence that women’s businesses are more likely to close compared with men’s.”   FILE – Vicky Li Yip sets up a bubble machine for her children, left to right, Kelsey, 8, Toby, 10 and Jesse, 5, outside their home, July 10, 2020, in Houston, Texas.And with children out of school, women are picking up even more caregiving responsibilities, forcing many to step back from the workplace and exacerbating the economic consequences of the unpaid care work that women disproportionately perform. Moreover, women face an increase in domestic violence as a result of lockdowns, and find less access to sexual and reproductive health as limited resources are diverted to the pandemic.   Women also make up FILE – President Donald Trump speaks with reporters on the South Lawn of the White House, July 31, 2020.In his first week in office, President Donald Trump reinstated and expanded the Global Gag rule, also known as the Mexico City policy, that prohibits U.S. global health assistance organizations from providing information, resources, or services on safe abortions.In 2018, the State Department removed reproductive health from its annual country reports, and in May 2020, FILE – U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues Kelley Currie attends an event celebrating the anniversary of the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity (W-GDP) initiative at the State Department in Washington, Feb. 12, 2020.Responding to VOA’s question, Kelley Currie, the State Department’s ambassador-at-large for global women’s issues, defended the initiative.   W-GDP is “very focused” and “very consensus-based,” Currie said. “We believe that this is the best way that we can use the resources we have to address the barriers that are holding back women.”    

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