UK aid's gender pay gap, USAID's org chart, and Yemen's access issues: This week in development

António Guterres, secretary-general of the United Nations addresses the journalists during the high level pledging event for the humanitarian crisis in Yemen. Photo by: Violaine Martin / U.N. / CC BY-NC-ND

Gulf states lead on Yemen assistance pledges, U.K. aid groups open the books on gender pay gaps, and the U.S. aid chief draws up a new organizational chart. This week in development.

Some of the largest aid organizations in the United Kingdom revealed wide gender pay gaps, with the worst offender paying men almost twice as much as women on average, according to disclosures now required by the U.K. government. Across 17 major nonprofits reviewed by Devex, the average gap was 12.6 percent in mean hourly pay, lower than the U.K. national average of 17.4 percent. Marie Stopes International and World Vision U.K. reported the widest gender pay gaps, at 45.2 percent and 24.2 percent, respectively. The new regulation required companies and organizations with more than 250 employees to publish anonymized gender pay gap data by April 4. MSI attributed its wide gender pay gap to women and men filling different roles within the organization. At their U.K. family planning clinics, more women tend to work as nurses, while more men tend to fill higher-paid positions such as surgeons, which MSI said reflects a sector-wide issue in health care. The organizations covered by the new regulation are required to update their statistics annually, and many said they are working to reduce the gap in pay.

President Donald Trump has raised questions about his administration’s stabilization and development priorities in Syria and puzzled his own national security advisors by asserting his desire to pull troops out of the country quickly. “We’ll be coming out of Syria, like, very soon. Let the other people take care of it now,” he said unexpectedly at an event on trade in Ohio on Friday. On Saturday Trump froze more than $200 million for Syrian stabilization efforts pledged by outgoing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in February. This week he doubled down on that suggestion, signaling on Wednesday that he would call for an immediate withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria, before ultimately deferring to his secretary of defense to devise a more realistic plan. Trump’s remarks came on the same day that U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Mark Green praised coordination between the U.S. military and U.S. humanitarian and development professionals in Syria. “In Raqqa, what I saw with our modest footprint is not an open-ended commitment, but rather a focused mission with a clear definition of success,” Green said at the U.S. Institute of Peace, where he also described efforts that are underway to produce a “stabilization assistance review” of the U.S. government’s efforts in these contexts.

Donors pledged $2.01 billion in humanitarian assistance to Yemen at a pledging conference in Geneva on Tuesday, falling about $1 billion short of the United Nations’ goal. The largest donors were Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which each pledged $500 million. Since Saudi Arabia is a party to the ongoing conflict in Yemen, humanitarian groups that maintain neutrality, including the Norwegian Refugee Council, have vowed not to accept the new funding from the country. James Munn, president of the Norwegian Refugee Council, told Devex that the pledges from Saudi Arabia and the UAE show that the countries are “very much aware of how they're perceived and how they are seen, not just by governments, but by the world's population.” While U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres lauded the show of support from donors, participants acknowledged that the lack of humanitarian access to the 22 million people affected by the conflict remains a huge problem — and one that is unlikely to be overcome without a political resolution to the war.

USAID chief Mark Green is set to unveil a revised organizational chart for the world’s largest bilateral aid agency. Green is presenting the new structure at a staff meeting, which comes after months of redesign preparation and consultation. The coordinator of USAID’s Transformation Task Team, Jim Richardson, told Devex that while the structural changes will all be aimed at achieving Green’s vision of ending the need for foreign assistance, one goal will be pushing “resources and decisions to the field and using Washington more as a consultative body to provide technical expertise.” The organizational changes are one part of an internal “transformation” agenda that is ongoing at USAID, despite the departure of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who was leading a joint redesign of America’s foreign affairs agencies. Richardson told Devex that the changes USAID is proposing this week are not meant to achieve cost savings, despite the Trump administration’s repeated proposals to cut the agency’s budget by one-third. “This isn’t a budget-driven exercise,” Richardson said.

About the author

  • Michael Igoe

    Michael Igoe is a Senior Reporter with Devex, based in Washington, D.C. He covers U.S. foreign aid, global health, climate change, and development finance. Prior to joining Devex, Michael researched water management and climate change adaptation in post-Soviet Central Asia, where he also wrote for EurasiaNet. Michael earned his bachelor's degree from Bowdoin College, where he majored in Russian, and his master’s degree from the University of Montana, where he studied international conservation and development.