Durbin Introduces Bill to Promote Economic Opportunities for Women, Address Global Poverty

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL) introduced bipartisan legislation today that will promote economic and educational opportunities for women in developing countries. The Global Resources and Opportunities for Women to Thrive or GROWTH Act will support a variety of programs designed to improve the economic standing of women. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) is the bill’s lead cosponsor.


“There is a critical link between improving the lives of women and eradicating global poverty,” said Durbin. “The GROWTH Act will not only empower women by giving them the financial tools to start and grow their own businesses, it will create broader opportunities through educational, legal, and community building programs.”


Assisting women is key to addressing the most pressing global-development challenges. Currently, women make up 60% of the world’s working poor, 70% of the hungry, and 67% of the illiterate. They earn only 73% as much as men and are far more likely to only be informally employed. Women also own less than 15% of land worldwide and are often dispossessed when their spouse dies.


Women are far more likely to use their income for food, healthcare and education for their children than their male counterparts. Yet women, particularly in developing countries, are not always given economic or training opportunities and often bear the brunt of economic, legal, and social gender inequality.


Focusing U.S. developmental assistance on women in is crucial to ensuring the effectiveness of our aid dollars and to addressing the world’s greatest global-development challenges. The GROWTH Act:

• Increases women’s ability to start and develop businesses through enhanced microfinance, microenterprise loans, and related financial tools;

• Supports various efforts to enhance women’s land and property rights;

• Increases women’s employment opportunities and improves working conditions for women through education, skills training, and advocacy programs;

• Helps to ensure that women in developing countries receive the benefits of trade agreements through trade-capacity building and training for women entrepreneurs; and

• Assists women’s organizations in developing countries to develop country-specific programs to help women realize their full economic potential


The bill is supported by Women Thrive, a coalition of nearly 60 groups including: Africare, American Association of University Women, Amnesty International Women’s Human Rights Program, CARE, Friends of the World Food Program, Heifer International, and Oxfam America.


The bill is cosponsored by Senators Collins (R-ME), Landrieu (D-LA), Shaheen (D-NH), Sanders (D-VT), Casey (D-PA), Whitehouse (D-RI) and Johnson (D-SD).