THE PROMISE OF EQUAL FUTURES
The United States launched the Equal Futures Partnership in September 2012 to help galvanize efforts by governments around the world to address barriers to women’s economic and political participation. In three years, a partnership that began with 11 governments has more than doubled to include 27 countries and the European Union, along with a number of private sector, non-profit, and multilateral partners. Equal Futures partner countries commit to taking actions—including legal, regulatory, and policy reforms—to help ensure that women fully participate in public life at the local, regional, and national levels, and that they lead and benefit from inclusive economic growth. Equal Futures partners include Australia, Bangladesh, Belgium, Benin, Chile, Croatia, Denmark, the European Union, Finland, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Latvia, Mexico, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Peru, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Switzerland, Thailand, Timor Leste, Tunisia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, along with our newest member, Tanzania. Each participant in the Equal Futures Partnership works closely with key stakeholders in its country, including civil society, to identify policy and program priorities. They then set achievable goals as commitments within the Partnership, exchange best practices and lessons learned, and report on progress. 2015 Developments In 2015, the Equal Futures Partnership established a new governance structure, led by the Steering Committee. The Steering Committee consists of a troika of chairs – the past chair, current chair, and future chair – and representatives from regional subcommittees. The United States is serving as the current and past chair of the Steering Committee and, in March, the Equal Futures members elected Croatia as the future chair. Regional subcommittees are represented on the Steering Committee by Bangladesh (Asia and Pacific Islands), Morocco (Middle East and North Africa), Peru (Latin America), and Sierra Leone (Africa). The Steering Committee sets the strategic vision for the Partnership and will work, in the coming years, to increase the number of Equal Futures Partners from underrepresented regions, including Africa, Latin America and the Middle East. Information Sharing and Best Practices On August 29, 2015, the members of the Equal Futures Partnership came together in Tokyo, Japan at the World Assembly for Women (WAW!) to discuss common challenges related to their shared commitments and to identify promising practices. The members consulted with subject matter experts from UN Women, the International Finance Corporation, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Committee on Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, and the Asia Foundation on matters related to labor force participation and entrepreneurship, promoting the economic independence of survivors or gender-based violence, and increasing middle and senior-level women managers in private companies. The Partnership is taking a number of additional steps to institutionalize this collaboration and exchange of best practice. For example, through a new “pairing” initiative, countries with related domestic commitments will be paired to exchange best practices and collaborate to address common challenges. JOINING THE PARTNERSHIP Countries committed to promoting women’s political and economic participation are welcome to join the Equal Futures Partnership. Government representatives and other interested stakeholders may email EqualFutures@state.gov for more information.