The left-leaning ideologues of the Biden administration’s foreign aid agency have just drafted a new gender policy.
The U.S. Agency for International Development is supposed to use U.S. foreign assistance funds to “advance a free, peaceful, and prosperous world.” Its stated goals – to save lives, reduce poverty and help people go beyond the need for assistance – are noble and indisputable. However, wrapping our foreign aid in the language and ideology of radical gender theory is not.
This new gender policy at USAID is the latest manifestation of President Joe Biden’s plan to make gender ideology a central theme of government policy – and there’s a lot of money to be set aside for the TO DO. USAID’s budget request for fiscal year 2023 is $60.4 billion. This represents a 6% increase over last year and includes an additional $2.6 billion to advance the National Gender Equity and Equality Strategy.
Gender ideology offends many of our needy foreign aid recipients. Placing such ideological shackles on our aid undermines the goodwill our aid would otherwise garner. It perpetuates the idea that Americans regard other cultures as morally inferior and that we use our help to “improve” their cultures.
This is naked ideological colonialism.
Equity versus equality
A “gender equality and women’s empowerment” policy should aim to empower women and girls, to help them have a better chance of exercising their rights on an equal basis with men and boys. But USAID’s new gender policy emphasizes the idea of “gender equity” instead.
USAID defines gender equity as “the process of ensuring that women and men, boys and girls, and people of diverse gender identities receive consistent, systematic, equitable, and benefits and resources”.
He even goes so far as to call for measures “to compensate for historical and systemic disadvantages”. It is far from equality. And that is neither an appropriate nor achievable goal for the US government. No amount of foreign aid will produce equal results for groups or individuals in other countries.
Instead, USAID should revert to the definition of “gender equality” it used in its previous policy: “The state in which women, girls, men, and boys have equal access equal opportunity, resources, benefits and legal protections, and which recognizes their equal inherent human dignity, worth and inalienable rights”.
More absurd definitions
In the new draft policy, USAID departs from a time-honoured, scientific understanding of sex and the common use of “gender” as a synonym for biological sex. Instead, the terms in its glossary are controversial and nebulous.
He acknowledges this by stating that “language is dynamic and evolving”. The document is full of terms such as “gender binary”, “gender diversity” and “gender identity”, which refer to nothing more than subjective feelings or artificial labels.
Not only is this language insensitive to other cultures, barely disguising an ideological agenda, but it is also absurd. There is no neutral, empirical way to discern “gender identity”. As a concept, “gender identity” is an artifact of gender theory, not history or science. It should not govern our foreign policy or our aid programs.
USAID’s consistent use of the phrase “women and girls in all their diversity” expands the definition of “women and girls” to include anyone, even men and boys.
By defining this term as including “the full range of gender identity and/or gender expression, sex characteristics, sexual orientation and other intersectional characteristics”, it diverts attention from specific needs or conditions of women. For example, a man who claims to “identify” as a woman does not have the same needs or challenges as a woman – a biological woman – in the context of, for example, menstrual health and hygiene.
A USAID grant or program should recognize and address this reality.
The new policy not only adds radical and counterproductive elements, but it removes important content. Motherhood is a glaring omission in a document that claims to care about women and girls. Millions of women who benefit from USAID programs are mothers, and fortunately.
Maternity is an integral part of these women’s lives. American policy should recognize and support the crucial role that mothers play in a productive and peaceful society.
Radicalize the next generation
USAID’s emphasis on “gender transformative education” is another example of overt ideological imperialism. According to the document, the goal of gender-transformative education is to “transform stereotypes, attitudes, norms and practices.” It does so “by challenging power relations, rethinking gender norms and binaries, and raising critical consciousness about the root causes of inequality and systems of oppression.”
USAID considers this type of education worthy of support. But changing cultural attitudes and raising awareness of oppression is not what parents want for their children. They want better reading, math and science.
Under Biden, the United States is exporting a tendentious ideological fixation of disproportionately powerful special interest to the developing world.
It’s particularly muted in the US government’s dealings with countries that don’t share the Biden administration’s leftist worldview. Remember that the next time the liberal media complains about America’s “position” in the world.
This piece originally appeared in The Daily Signal