US Secretary of State John Kerry poses with recipients of the 2016 International Women of Courage Award at the State Department in Washington, DC, March 29, 2016 (AFP Photo/Jim Watson)

The new presidential administration will have an impact on women worldwide. What remains to be seen is how great the impact on girls and women will be over the next four years.

Last week, the transition team requested information about gender-related State Department programs. The request by the transition team is worrying, and fears of an era reminiscent of 1950s McCarthyism are growing.

State Department employees fear the new administration might disband programs promoting women’s equality. Alternately, they might redirect funds elsewhere. Political watchers fear the rise of a new McCarthyism will have a devastating impact upon women and girls worldwide. So do I.

The transition team sought information on women-centered State Department positions and programs. They were looking for programs focused on gender equality. Such programs include ending gender-based violence, or promoting economic programs benefiting women worldwide.

If the election ended as the majority of Americans had hoped, I wouldn’t be writing this. A key focus of Clinton’s platform as Secretary of State was advocating for women and girls. The Office of Global Women’s Issues reported directly to Clinton during her tenure at the State Department. The GWI ensures representation of women’s issues in the formation and conduct of U.S. foreign policy.

The transition team’s request does not bode well for those programs. Each presidential administration can direct and siphon funds from whichever programs they see fit. As someone invested in politics and women’s issues, it’s disheartening to see gender-based power plays from the transition team.

The incoming administration will most likely reduce funding to women-centered programs at the State Department. This will have a negative impact on women and girls worldwide. It’s more important than ever to support women’s initiatives around the world at a grassroots level.

In times like these, we need to step up and close the gap if government support for women’s programs falters. You can donate money, volunteer your time and spread awareness about an organization that you care about. We need to make sure more girls don’t slip through the cracks. Every girl around the world has the potential to be great.

-Sage Daugherty
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

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