President Joe Biden and his team have started off strong since taking office in January. They have embraced several top priorities that CARE shares, including ensuring support for women, girls, and other marginalized, isolated, or hard-to-reach communities and asserting the U.S. position as a global leader. The next four years of the Biden administration present a tremendous opportunity for the U.S. to reengage with the world in a way that demonstrates our commitment to global impact and change.
Here are five wins CARE is thrilled to celebrate from the Biden Administration — so far! — and what we look forward to achieving in the next four years ahead.
1. Creation of White House Council on Gender Equality
Even before they were officially sworn in, President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris announced the formation of a White House Council on Gender Equality. This office will “guide and coordinate government policy that impacts women and girls, across a wide range of issues such as economic security, health care, racial justice, gender-based violence, and foreign policy, working in cooperation with the other White House policy councils.” It will also help ensure a focus on uplifting the rights of girls and women in the United States and around the world, restoring America as a champion for women and girls. This early and prominent focus on gender equality is a clear demonstration that the Biden Administration will consider how all of its policies impact women and girls. CARE applauds this focus and looks forward to working to support this objective.
2. Reversal of the Global Gag Rule
On January 28, 2021, President Biden took an important step to prioritize the health of women and girls by reversing the previous administration’s Memorandum on the Mexico City policy, otherwise known as the Global Gag rule. In a statement, President Biden said, “It is the policy of my Administration to support women’s and girls’ sexual and reproductive health and rights in the United States, as well as globally. These excessive conditions on foreign and development assistance undermine the United States’ efforts to advance gender equality globally by restricting our ability to support women’s health and programs that prevent and respond to gender-based violence.” This action is crucial to ensuring the needs of women and girls are met. With these guiding words and objectives from the Biden White House, CARE advocates can be confident their work will have an even greater impact.
3. Advancement of Global COVID-19 Response
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage here at home and across the world, the Biden Administration has pledged to confront it head on. In addition to the domestic efforts outlined in the administration’s American Rescue Plan, the Biden Administration has pledged at least $11 billion to focus on the global response. These funds will help “mitigate the secondary impacts of COVID-19 on health and development and restore U.S. leadership in global health, humanitarian and development organizations, and international financial institutions.” Secondary impacts of the pandemic can also include food insecurity and malnutrition, gender-based violence (GBV), and economic devastation. The Biden Administration has promised to “work to improve health outcomes for women and girls, including through recommitting to sexual and reproductive health and rights and maternal and child health and nutrition programs; and advance gender parity, diversity, and inclusion.” These efforts echo CARE’s core mission to prioritize women and girls during the pandemic and the funding is a result of continued advocacy from CARE’s domestic and global partners.
4. Rejoining the World Health Organization & Paris Agreement
On day one, President Biden revoked the previous administration’s decision to withdraw from the World Health Organization and made clear that the U.S. would rejoin the Paris Climate Accords. In a National Security Memorandum on U.S. Global Leadership to Strengthen the International COVID-19 Response and to Advance Global Health Security and Biological Preparedness, the President requested “within 30 days of the date of this memorandum recommendations on how the United States can: (1) exercise leadership at the WHO and work with partners to lead and reinvigorate the international COVID-19 response; (2) participate in international efforts to advance global health, health security, and the prevention of future biological catastrophes; and (3) otherwise strengthen and reform the WHO.” The order also established a National Security Council Directorate on Global Health Security and Biodefense.
Additionally, the President signed an order on climate change initiatives that “affirms that, in implementing – and building on – the Paris Agreement’s objectives, the United States will exercise its leadership to promote a significant increase in global ambition.” With these two actions, the Biden Administration made clear that organizations like CARE will be operating with a stronger partner in the U.S. government.
5. Reversing Anti-Refugee Policies
Also on day one, President Biden reversed anti-refugee policies and implemented an order that will reexamine migration policies and facilitate refugee resettlement in the U.S. He also signed an executive order that will implement a multi-pronged approach toward managing migration throughout North and Central America and establish a comprehensive strategy for addressing the causes of migration in the region.
Additionally in February, CARE applauded the Biden Administration’s decision to raise the refugee admissions cap to 125,000 in fiscal year 2022, which will help restore American credibility and set the United States on a constructive path toward global responsibility sharing and leadership in addressing forced displacement. Taken together, these actions restore a humanitarian focus to U.S. immigration policies and ensure groups like CARE will be able to assist in protecting vulnerable populations.