New Biden Policy Promotes Woke Social Agenda Using U.S. Foreign Assistance
In March, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) released its new “Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Policy.” This new Biden policy represents a significant shift from USAID’s gender policy released by the Trump administration in 2020. Rather than simply affirming the inherent worth and dignity of women and girls, the Biden administration’s new policy devalues women and girls by espousing a radical gender ideology as well as overt sexualization by championing the global use of contraception and abortion, even for young girls.
For decades, USAID has intentionally propelled women’s empowerment as an avenue to help positively transform societies using international development funds. On the surface, this is not a bad idea. In many parts of the world, direct economic assistance, particularly for women facing significant challenges, is critical. Sadly, human trafficking continues to be a persistent issue; women and girls face forced marriage in many parts of the world, and even religious persecution can present different hardships for women than men.
The Trump administration policy was a model for how USAID can positively empower women and girls. It specifically did not define the word “gender.” By consistently referencing “women” and “men,” the policy offered a straightforward respect for and understanding of the unique biological differences between women and men.
In contrast, the Biden administration’s policy alters basic binary definitions and makes multiple references to “women and girls in all their diversity” and “men and boys in all their diversity.” Biden’s policy goes even further, specifying that these terms include “those of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, plus [whatever else] (LGBTQI+) community.” This terminology represents an explicit rejection of biological sex. This altered definition ironically poses a significant problem for a revised policy that is supposed to be focused on enabling women’s empowerment.
The agency goes on an even further tangent by making “intersectionality” one of its seven guiding principles. Intersectionality is a term with foundations in critical theory that suggests a common equality (of sorts) for all, but undue oppression requires some to be uplifted due to discrimination. The new policy is at odds with itself. On the one hand, the policy seeks to enable uniform access and support for all categories of women, to include even men per their definition. Then, at the same time, it takes “overlapping marginalized identities” into consideration and expresses extra concern and bias for special interest groups it suggests are more equal than others, such as “lesbian or transgender women.”
The policy fails to succinctly and unequivocally define what a woman is and instead steals from the basic premise of female needs for safety, security, and simple opportunity that are critical to women flourishing. Further distorting the focus from helping women and girls, USAID’s new policy outright maligns pro-family individuals and advocates in other countries, saying, “Anti-rights actors have sought to further marginalize LGBTQI+ individuals by pursuing campaigns that spread misinformation.” The Biden administration’s radical gender ideology stance actually degrades and marginalizes real women in favor of those pretending to be. How is that helping to empower women and girls around the globe?
In a sub-section titled “LGBTQI+ Individuals and Gender Equality,” the new USAID policy decries “Regressive gender norms, gender inequalities, and associated power differentials [which] constrain the lives of LGBTQI+ individuals.” This sub-section makes clear that USAID intends to influence and change foreign cultures to make them adopt and accept LGBT ideology at the societal level. It complains about indigenous cultural family and gender norms because “gender-diverse, transgender, and intersex individuals must contend with expectations that they comply with gender binary roles.”
In short, it erases women. This new policy directly and fraudulently wastes U.S. taxpayer money that Congress allocated to help women thrive and become catalysts for positive societal change.
Deconstructing gender norms in other cultures is not a legitimate project of USAID — it is a prime example of ideological colonialism. Yet, USAID is open about its desires to fundamentally transform foreign cultures beginning with women, girls, and families. One of USAID’s four “strategic objectives” outlined in the policy is to “Advance Structural Changes and Equitable Gender Norms.” The agency states that one example of how USAID does this is by supporting “youth and their influencers to challenge inequitable gender roles and norms.”
This strategy usurps the value many cultures place on womanhood and instead seeks to adversely and inappropriately alter traditional family dynamics. How do Americans feel when a foreign country interferes with our lives to influence American opinion and behavior? China, anyone? Russia? American foreign aid and investment allocated for women’s empowerment must be used for what is intended — enabling and uplifting women and girls, not promoting sexual deviancy.
In addition to surreptitiously inserting sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) lexicon and protections into U.S. foreign assistance, USAID’s new gender policy further commandeers and distorts other terms. Biden’s new policy overtly promotes global abortion and relentless contraception under the guise of improving “sexual and reproductive health and rights” (SHRH). SRHR is a seemingly innocuous term that has been outright commandeered by the Left to include abortion, not medical care necessary for women’s health. See Secretary of State Blinken’s statement on the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, which overturned Roe v. Wade.
Yet another section of the new policy entitled “Family Planning and Reproductive Health” argues that 218 million women view childbearing as onerous and seek to avoid pregnancy but do not use a “modern contraceptive method.” Despite the numerous physical and psychological risks posed by hormonal birth control, USAID condescendingly coerces women around the world to acquiesce through their targeted and intimidating distribution of prophylactics and birth control. USAID further evokes a concept of “gendered barriers” that might prevent men from “using and/or supporting women’s use of contraception,” thereby downplaying a woman’s most precious gift, childbirth.
The new gender policy bemoans a lack of “family planning and reproductive health services” and the limits that motherhood and family place on a woman’s autonomy. USAID shows no concern for different cultures in the developing world that value, welcome, and cherish babies and large families. USAID’s push for greater contraception use and expanded “reproductive health services” (read “abortion”) comes at a time when some Western feminists are awakening to the harms caused by the sexual revolution and the introduction of the birth control pill. The U.S. government should pause and reflect on the wide-ranging potential consequences of its agencies’ policies before coercively compelling the developing world to suffer the same repercussions of the sexual revolution that Americans are still grappling with.
Many Americans are unaware that the Biden administration is using their tax money to fund and compel radical social activism in developing countries around the world. USAID’s logo says, “from the American people.” Is coerced contraception, abortion, and female belittlement the aid we, Americans, want to be known for extending globally? Most Americans would not be on board with this radical woke agenda that is being forced on developing countries on America’s behalf. In fact, a 2023 poll shows that 78% of Americans oppose taxpayer dollars funding abortion abroad.
In response, Congress must exercise its oversight role in federal agencies and demand answers from USAID Administrator Samantha Power. USAID has the important “twofold purpose of furthering America’s interests while improving lives in the developing world.” Sadly, the Biden administration’s activism in favor of radical progressive social policies fails miserably on both counts.
Bethany Kozma is CEO of Keystone Policy and previously served as Deputy Chief of Staff at USAID during the Trump administration.
Arielle Del Turco is Director of the Center for Religious Liberty at Family Research Council, and co-author of "Heroic Faith: Hope Amid Global Persecution.