International Women’s Day Breakfast Panel to Explore Role of Women in Development

Washington, D.C; March 1, 2011—American Jewish World Service (AJWS)—in partnership with Women Thrive Worldwide and Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN)—will mark International Women’s Day, on March 8 at 8:30 a.m. with a breakfast and panel discussion that will focus on women’s empowerment and the creation of a more effective international development and foreign assistance program.

The event, featuring panelists Ruth Messinger, president of AJWS, Ritu Sharma, president of Women Thrive Worldwide and Deputy Administrator Donald K. Steinberg, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), will take place at the Reserve Officers Association Building, One Constitution Ave. NE, Washington, D.C. Political analyst and commentator Dee Dee Myers will moderate the panel.

Last fall, President Obama outlined the first-ever government-wide global development policy and the State Department recently released the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review. Both commit the United States to designing development and international diplomacy strategies that take into account issues of gender equity as a means for enabling both women and men in the Global South to play important roles in the growth and strengthening of their communities.

“Without such a commitment to gender equality, tremendous barriers for women to participate in the shaping of their communities’ future will persist,” Messinger said. “A great deal of research has found that when we invest in women, communities see significant benefits in their members’ health and educational opportunities both of which are critical in eradicating poverty through sustainable economic development.

“I’m very much looking forward to participating on a panel with these distinguished leaders and discussing how we can continue to help women have a stronger voice in planning for their communities’ growth and how they can play a greater role in leading implementation efforts on the ground.”

At the event, AJWS will also release a new AJWS policy paper entitled Empowering Girls as Agents of Change: A Human Rights-Based Approach to U.S. Policy. With examples from AJWS-supported programs in India, the paper shows how U.S. policy can apply a rights-based approach to empower girls. This includes emphasizing locally-led solutions; integrating strategies and programs that address holistically the underlying political, socioeconomic and legal factors driving poverty, non-discrimination and equality; and better monitoring, evaluation and accountability.

Journalists are welcome to cover the breakfast and should contact Amanda Cary at 202-412-3360 or

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