Congress Queries Biden’s Problematic Global Women’s Office

By | May 25, 2023

WASHINGTON, D.C., May 26 (C-Fam) Leading Republican members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee have sent a letter to the U.S. Department of State questioning a shift of emphasis on women’s issues from economics to controversial social issues.

Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX) and Vice Chairwoman Ann Wagner (R-MO) have requested a comprehensive accounting of operations and programs within the Office of Global Women’s Issues (GWI) given the Biden administrations pivot from women’s empowerment and economic advancement to the promotion of abortion and LGBT rights in U.S. foreign policy.

“Considering the management and programmatic challenges inside that office, stemming from prolonged periods without political leadership, we seek additional information regarding your policy priorities,” the letter states.

The office tasked with promoting the rights of women and girls around the world has long been criticized for prioritizing abortion and sexual rights to the detriment of women and girls in need of educational opportunities and economic assistance.

Current U.S. law prohibits funding to perform or promote abortion overseas, but the Biden administration supports funding for some abortion exceptions. This policy change would be a break from over 40 years of Helms amendment implementation. Lawmakers requested the state department office provide how the administration communicates to grantees that Helms is applied.

McCaul and Wagner expressed concern that diverting the focus from economic advancement to other priorities could stall progress on the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity (WGDP) program launched by Ivanka Trump.

“The Biden Administration announced it would utilize the funds Congress provided to implement the WGDP Initiative for the Gender Equity and Equality Action (GEEA) Fund, which expands the focus beyond women’s economic empowerment to include other issues such as climate change, gender-based violence, and global health.”

The congressional leaders also observed that established U.S. priorities for women in security policy had been compromised by a shift to promoting policy known to have homosexual and transgender elements.

“[T]he Biden Administration appears to have abandoned the interagency priorities announced in 2021 for implementation of the U.S. Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) Act (P.L. 115-18) and is instead moving to focus the WPS agenda on “gender” rather than the needs of women and girls.”

Lawmakers asked for clarification on the Biden administration promotion of abortion in multilateral policy, specifically any engagement with the UN Women’s Generation Equality Forum initiative, the World Health Organization, and the Interagency Working Group on Reproductive Health in Crisis. The Interagency Working Group promotes abortion in a minimum initial service package for women in humanitarian emergencies, and it attempts to force medical personnel in emergencies to refer women for abortion even when it is against their conscience.

The Generation Equality Forum, sponsored by UN Women, France and Mexico, produced a set of goals that included the “removal of restrictive policies and legal barriers, ensuring 50 million more adolescent girls and women live in jurisdictions where they can access safe and legal abortion by 2026.”

The Biden administration’s prioritization of gender-based violence programming, much of it originating from the Global Women’s office will strengthen the presence of abortion and LGBT organizations in traditional countries, as was done in the Obama administration.

Lawmakers also asked for GWI’s involvement in the multiple global strategies released by the Biden administration that are guiding the promotion of abortion and LGBT rights in U.S. development and humanitarian assistance.

The GWI office is overseen by an ambassador at large that reports to the Secretary of State. Due to the position being a confirmed political appointment the office has experienced long lapses of leadership while candidates await senate confirmation. This has occurred both under Democrat and Republican administrations defaulting leadership to a senior career official. The GWI office was given until May 30th to respond.