An internally displaced woman carries her child as they wait for assistance at Hariirad town of Awdal region, Somaliland April 9, 2016.
Feisal Omar / Reuters

Last week, U.S. President Barack Obama hosted a White House Summit on Global Development to map the future of U.S. development efforts. The meeting took place just as the United Nations has begun to measure progress toward the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, an ambitious set of goals to eradicate poverty adopted by the United States and 192 other nations last year. As development leaders assess how to meet these goals and improve U.S. foreign assistance, they ought to elevate a priority that has long been marginalized: advancement for women and girls, which is chronically underfunded and lags far behind when compared with other development objectives.

The gender gap in development assistance persists despite a substantial body of evidence confirming that investment in women yields high returns on poverty eradication and economic growth. Research demonstrates, for example, that reducing barriers to women’s economic participation decreases poverty and increases

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