True to its commitment to protect and empower women without undermining their rights as mothers or their indispensable role for the family, the Trump Administration last week issued via USAID—the world’s premier international development agency—a draft of its 2020 Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Policy. In stark contrast to the 2012 Obama policy it supersedes, the Trump policy refuses to pander to the so-called sexual rights agenda driven by the EU and powerful NGOs.
To appreciate the approach of the Trump policy, it is helpful to compare the statement sent to UN ambassadors in February by IOF and co-signing organizations around the world, in which we called attention to the commitment of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to “the inherent dignity” and “equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family,” including “the equal rights of men and women” to live free from slavery, torture, and degrading treatment, the right to own property, the right to receive equal pay for equal work, and the right to be educated. But, we insisted, the urgent work of protecting the rights of women must not undermine the most important of their equal and inalienable rights and their God-given uniqueness in the marital union that forms the basis of what the Declaration recognizes as society’s “natural and fundamental group unit,” namely, the family.
Similarly, the Trump Administration begins its proposed policy by announcing, “Our vision is of a prosperous and peaceful world in which women, girls, men, and boys enjoy equal economic, social, cultural, civil, and political rights and are equally empowered to secure better lives for themselves, their families, their communities, and their countries. At USAID, we are committed to empowering women and girls across the globe to… reach their full potential…” Implicit in this policy is the timeless wisdom expressed by Michael Novak when he stated, “What strengthens the family strengthens society,” and by Pope Francis when he spoke of “the complementarity between man and woman” which “lies at the foundation of marriage and the family,” providing “a unique, natural, fundamental and beautiful good for people, families, communities and societies.”
No wonder the Trump policy is drawing fire from the likes of the (misnamed) Center for Values in International Development, where a transgender woman first grudgingly concedes that “As far as it goes, the USAID draft 2020 Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Policy is a fine document,” and then denounces it as “an inadequate response” and “an ideologically motivated step backwards” because it “conjures up a reality in which the gender binary is unquestioned” and “where people like me (a transgender woman) either don’t exist or aren’t worth a mention.” But no amount of criticism or pressure has been able to deter the Trump Administration from what we have shown again and again to be an unremitting defense of life, liberty, and family—a reality that should be of vital interest to every voter in the upcoming presidential election.