The International Development Initiative advances innovative models for achieving gender equality and empowering women. We work in partnership with in-country civil society and non-governmental organizations, higher education institutions and the private sector to address the unique needs and challenges facing women and girls worldwide.

Empowering women and girls is fundamental to successful country development and to achieving a high quality of life for citizens. Across developing countries, major obstacles to this vision remain, including the persistence of gender-based violence (GBV) and its devastating consequences for individuals and communities; lack of access to educational opportunities; and the need for greater women’s economic participation and leadership in their communities.

The International Development Initiative takes a holistic approach to advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment. We create innovative partnerships with local actors and ASU faculty experts to:

  • Eliminate GBV and discrimination through both community- and systems-level approaches that advance locally led strategies for GBV prevention and protection, enabling opportunities and services for GBV survivors and driving prosecution and accountability of perpetrators.
  • Create educational opportunities by improving the quality of basic education for adolescent girls and youth and working with higher education ministries and institutions to create equitable, accessible pathways to post-secondary education.
  • Train and empower women entrepreneurs, including through high-scale digital platforms that reach tens of thousands of women worldwide, as well as high-touch local partnerships.
  • Our work reflects the vision of USAID’s Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Policy, emphasizing integrated, transformative and locally led collaborations that sustainably improve outcomes for women, girls and marginalized and vulnerable groups.

Related projects

LibrES: for an El Salvador without gender-based violence

El Salvador

Gender-based violence (GBV) is a significant issue in El Salvador, affecting up to two-thirds of Salvadoran women and girls. The USAID-funded LibrES program, led by ASU in partnership with local organizations, universities and United Nations agencies, leverages individual and systemic approaches to contribute safer and more productive lives for women and vulnerable populations in El Salvador, thus decreasing the likelihood of irregular migration to the United States.

WEAmericas Accelerator

Implemented by ASU Thunderbird School of Global Management, the WEAmericas Accelerator was an intensive, interactive business training program that empowered women entrepreneurs and advanced women-owned businesses in Central America. 

Academy of Women Entrepreneurs

ASU’s Thunderbird School of Global Management is supporting the U.S. Department of State’s Academy for Women Entrepreneurs (AWE), a program that promotes women’s economic opportunities and ensures that they have the capabilities and resources necessary for equitable economic participation. 

Making the system work (Voz de las víctimas)


Funded by U.S. Department of State International Law Enforcement and Narcotics Bureau (INL)

Discover more projects

Delve deeper into other International Development Initiative projects designed to create a safe, prosperous, equitable future for citizens around the world.