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Women and Foreign Policy Update - July 2016

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July 2016

Women and Foreign Policy Update

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Closing the Gender Gap in Development Financing



“Because closing the gender gap in development financing will advance U.S. interests in poverty reduction, sustainable development, and economic productivity, the United States should lead the effort to increase international financing for gender equality,” writes Senior Fellow Rachel Vogelstein in a new CFR Policy Innovation Memorandum. Despite the significant economic payoffs of investment in women and girls, international and national efforts to promote gender equality have been chronically underfunded, particularly when compared to other development priorities. To achieve the recently adopted Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and foster stability and prosperity around the world, Vogelstein argues, the United States should spearhead a multilateral effort to create a pooled gender equality financing mechanism, commit to an initial contribution of $100 million, and convene a conference to mobilize international pledges.  Read the Policy Innovation Memo »



Women in Tech Can Drive Growth in Emerging Economies

Catherine Powell, CFR senior fellow, and Ann Mei Chang, chief innovation officer and executive director at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Global Development Lab, highlight women’s roles in the information and communication technology (ICT) sector in emerging economies in a new CFR Discussion Paper. The authors argue that the shortage of qualified workers to fill critical ICT jobs is exacerbated by the low representation of women. Increasing the participation of women in the ICT labor force would help bridge the gap between the supply and demand for skilled ICT workers and allow many emerging economies to tap into a powerful driver of growth in the twenty-first century. As Powell and Mei Chang explain, “Expanding women’s access to ICT jobs would not only advance economic opportunities for women, their families, and their communities, but would also help address the shortage of skilled workers for these jobs and grow the digital economy.”  Read the full report »



NATO’s Efforts to Increase Women’s Participation



In a blog post on Women Around the World, Adjunct Senior Fellow Jamille Bigio writes about the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) summit in Warsaw on July 8, analyzing the 28-member organization’s strategies to address pressing security challenges and make the alliance more modern and responsive—including by investing in women to advance stability. In 2007, NATO made initial commitments to women’s participation in peace and security processes, and a 2013 review proposed recommendations for the group to better deliver on those pledges, yet “gaps remain in women’s representation across the institution.” Bigio cites a number of noteworthy developments, including that NATO is expanding the number of gender advisors who report directly to military leadership and providing operational-level training on gender, and notes that women now hold a record number of senior positions. Read the blog post on Women Around the World »

Title Changes in Marine Corps Embrace Women

In an op-ed in Fortune, Senior Fellow Gayle Tzemach Lemmon analyzes gender inclusivity in the armed forces. The Marine Corps recently announced it will rename nineteen job titles, removing the historically common usage of “man” in preference of gender neutral titles: basic infantrymen will now be basic infantry Marines, and reconnaissance men will now be reconnaissance Marines. Lemmon argues that this move is not only symbolic, but will have significant positive effects on integrating women into the military and encouraging women to enlist. She cites comments recently made by Admiral Kurt Tidd, head of U.S. Southern Command, that gender integration into all branches of the military is about “putting the best possible team on the playing field” and is “a net positive on combat effectiveness.”  Read the op-ed »

Rape as a Tactic of War and Terror

In a CFR roundtable meeting, Catherine Powell and UN Undersecretary-General Zainab Hawa Bangura discuss the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war, as well as recent efforts to combat and prosecute its perpetrators. Although the systematic use of rape has been firmly established as a war crime, recognizing rape and sexual violence as a tactic of terror used by extremist groups is a new frontier in international law. Bangura suggests that strengthening prevention, protection, and punishment is critical to combating sexual violence in all forms of armed conflict, and that, beyond these “3Ps,” a fourth—peace—remains of critical importance. Bangura notes that “we cannot stop sexual violence unless we stop the wars,” emphasizing that countries and international institutions must find more effective ways to prevent the onset of conflict.  Read the blog post on Women Around the World »



United State of Women Summit

In a guest blog post on Women Around the World, Catherine Russell, U.S. ambassador-at-large for global women’s issues, examines the first-ever United State of Women summit, held on June 14. Russell stresses that barriers to gender equality “from gender-based violence to economic and leadership opportunities for women—aren’t just American issues. They’re global issues.” Russell highlights a number of important U.S. policy initiatives—including the National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security, the U.S. Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Gender-Based Violence, and the U.S. Strategy to Empower Adolescent Girls—that aim to break down these barriers. She suggests that “U.S. leadership makes a powerful difference for women and girls around the world—and our efforts to advance gender equality advance our big-picture foreign policy goals of peace, security, and prosperity.”  Read the blog post on Women Around the World »

The Role of Men in Ending Violence Against Women

Gary Barker, president and CEO of Promundo and member of the UN Secretary-General’s Network of Men Leaders, writes in a guest blog post on Women Around the World about the strategic imperative of including boys and men in efforts to counter violence against women. Barker contends that a focus on holding men accountable is not enough, and that preventative measures aimed at boys and young men are critical to deter the use of violence in the future. “A global prevention movement,” he writes, “means that all men and fathers become part of a cycle of change—questioning other men’s violence, speaking out about it, talking to our sons and daughters about it.”  Read the blog post on Women Around the World »



New Challenges to Girls’ Education



To mark Malala Day—the UN celebration of the birthday of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai—Meighan Stone, president of the Malala Fund, highlights barriers to girls’ education in this month’s interview for the Five Questions series. Stone discusses the gains made toward universal education under the Millennium Development Goals, and the gaps that remain, especially with respect to adolescent girls’ access to secondary school. Stone highlights the plight of refugee girls in particular, writing that “over twenty-four million children are out of school in thirty-five conflict-affected countries today, and every year that they miss school is a lost opportunity for themselves, their families, and their countries.” Stone suggests that governments around the world should act on existing funding pledges so that children do not pay the price of conflict.  Read the full Five Questions interview »



A Woman at the Helm of the United Nations?

The race for the next UN secretary-general is heating up, and despite the highest number of women in contention of any race in history, female candidates reportedly face diminishing odds of securing the post. In a September 2015 blog post, Powell examines the historical lack of women’s representation at the highest levels of the United Nations: all secretaries-general to date have been men. She argues that a woman secretary-general would not only bolster UN efforts to promote gender equality, but could bring new perspectives to policymaking and increase the perceived legitimacy of the organization during a time of reform.  Read the blog post on Women Around the World »


The Women and Foreign Policy Program Blog

The Women and Foreign Policy program’s dedicated blog, Women Around the World, serves as a forum for CFR fellows as well as voices from government, academia, civil society, and the private sector, to explore new research and ideas about the relationship between the advancement of women and U.S. foreign policy interests. Sign up to receive automatic alerts of new blog posts and follow us on Twitter at @CFR_WFP for additional commentary on noteworthy news about women and girls. 


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CFR's Women and Foreign Policy program works with leading scholars to analyze how elevating the status of women and girls advances U.S. foreign policy objectives and to bring the status of women into the mainstream foreign policy debate. Among its areas of focus are global health and education, the role of women in peacekeeping, and women’s economic participation.


Rachel Vogelstein
Director and Senior Fellow, Women and Foreign Policy Program

Gayle Tzemach Lemmon
Senior Fellow, Women and Foreign Policy Program

Catherine Powell
Senior Fellow, Women and Foreign Policy Program

Jamille Bigio
Adjunct Senior Fellow, Women and Foreign Policy Program

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