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Gayle Tzemach Lemmon

Senior Fellow for Women and Foreign Policy

Expertise

Economic growth and development; development and the role of women; Afghanistan; women in Afghanistan; entrepreneurship and role of business environment; women and nation-building; military and economic development; economics and fiscal policy; maternal and reproductive health; role of international institutions in women's empowerment.

Programs

Entrepreneurs and Market Linkages in Conflict and Postconflict Environments

Bio

Gayle Tzemach Lemmon is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and the author of Ashley's War and The Dressmaker of Khair Khana, both New York Times best sellers.

Lemmon is a contributor to the Atlantic’s Defense One site, writing on national security and foreign policy issues, and a former contributing editor at Newsweek Daily Beast. She also writes regularly on Afghanistan’s politics and economy, entrepreneurship in fragile states, the fight to end child marriage, and issues affecting women and girls for publications including the New York TimesFinancial TimesFast Company, Christian Science Monitor, and CNN.com.

Lemmon regularly appears on a number of broadcast networks, including PBS, MSNBC, CNN, and National Public Radio, to discuss foreign policy issues. In December 2011, she gave the opening talk at TEDxWomen, which focused on why investing in women can make the difference for the global economy. Her presentation was named a “TED Talk of the Day.”

From 1997 to 2004, Lemmon covered presidential politics and public policy issues for the ABC News Political Unit and served as an editorial producer during the first year of “This Week with George Stephanopoulos.” In 2004, she left ABC News to pursue her interest in international development and began MBA study at Harvard.  After business school, she served as a vice president at the global investment firm PIMCO, where she worked in the executive office and in emerging markets.

Lemmon graduated summa cum laude from the University of Missouri with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. She received an MBA from Harvard, as well as the 2006 Dean’s Award for her work on women’s entrepreneurship. She served as a Fulbright scholar in Spain and a Robert Bosch Foundation fellow in Germany. She speaks Spanish, German, and French, and is conversant in Dari.  She serves on the boards of Mercy Corps and the International Center for Research on Women.

Entrepreneurship in Fragile States

Despite myriad challenges, entrepreneurs in conflict and postconflict environments have succeeded in building viable businesses that stabilize families and communities and foster economic growth on a national level. While the importance of entrepreneurship has been widely discussed, little is known about what works in terms of linking entrepreneurs with markets in these environments. My working paper, Entrepreneurship in Postconflict Zones, fills that gap by investigating efforts to improve market linkages for entrepreneurs in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Liberia, among others. It focuses on new and growing firms, as well as firms that have developed into large-scale enterprises. Through op-eds and blog posts, I discuss unique barriers facing female entrepreneurs, such as their limited access to capital. As the private sector is becoming an increasingly valued partner in government efforts to address development issues, I also suggest ways that governments and international organizations can focus their efforts to address challenges seen by entrepreneurs in conflict and post-conflict environments, thus yielding gains in the efficiency of public aid.

Ending Child Marriage

In the next decade, 142 million girls worldwide will become brides before age eighteen if the current trend continues unabated. More than a moral issue, child marriage is damaging to global prosperity; as girls leave school early to become mothers, communities face the growth of an uneducated and undereducated youth. The prevalence of child marriage is also correlated to a nation's security: nine of the ten countries with the highest rates of child marriage are considered fragile states by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Yet there remains a significant lack of data on the factors that contribute to and the strategies that have proved effective against child marriage. In my working paper, High Stakes for Young Lives, I examine the social, economic, and cultural factors driving child marriage in order to help policymakers and civil society leaders curb, and eventually eliminate, child marriage. Since no single strategy will end the practice, I argue for a combination of legal frameworks, education policies, enforcement standards, attitude shifts, and economic incentives. In Fragile States, Fragile Lives, I hone in on the correlation between child marriage and state fragility, using the status of women and girls in the Syrian conflict as an example.

Education, Economic Development, and the Role of Women Entrepreneurs

The United States has made economic development a central tenet of its national security policy, alongside defense and diplomacy. Beyond encouraging investment, creating economic growth requires development from the ground up, including building stronger education systems and entrepreneurial environs, especially for women. Such steps can strengthen growth engines, diversify economies, improve communal well-being, stabilize societies, and accelerate progress toward international development goals. Yet there is often a disconnect between the educational and economic policy spheres. My research seeks to bridge that gap and to understand both what the education systems in the developing world offer job creators and what job creators need from their education systems. Additionally, I study the daunting challenges faced by women entrepreneurs in growing their businesses; female entrepreneurs face not only the same limited skills, constrained access to markets, and shortage of avenues for accessing finance that constrain male entrepreneurs, but also additional barriers exacerbated by gender-specific issues. Such a lack of support for women entrepreneurs widens the gender gap, slows development, and misses an opportunity to stabilize communities.

Featured Publications

Book

Ashley's War

Author: Gayle Tzemach Lemmon

From the author of the New York Times bestseller The Dressmaker of Khair Khana comes the poignant and gripping story of a groundbreaking team of female American warriors who served alongside Special Operations soldiers on the battlefield in Afghanistan­.

See more in North America; Defense and Security

All Publications

Article

Hagel's Afghanistan-less Hearing

Author: Gayle Tzemach Lemmon
Foreign Policy

Throughout Chuck Hagel's marathon confirmation hearing, America's decade-long war in Afghanistan was noticeably overlooked. But it is curious to see the next secretary of defense receive so few inquiries from senators about the war whose end he will presumably oversee in the coming years, says Gayle Tzemach Lemmon.

See more in United States; Military Leadership

Article

Malala, Others on Front Lines in Fight for Women

Author: Gayle Tzemach Lemmon
cnn.com

Despite the fact that Malala Yousafzai, the fourteen-year-old Pakistani women's rights activist, survived an assassination attempt by the Taliban, similar attacks against women, like the one in India, are on the rise. Gayle Tzemach Lemmon says that these attacks are efforts to stamp out women's progress and the potential of women worldwide will not be realized if this type of violence is tolerated.

See more in Afghanistan; Pakistan; Women; Children

Article

The Malalas You'll Never Meet

Author: Gayle Tzemach Lemmon
cnn.com

Gayle Tzemach Lemmon says that just as Malala Yousafzai, the fourteen-year-old Pakistani girl who was gunned down by Taliban shooters, refused to silently abandon her right to education even at the risk of losing her life, courageous women and men fight daily against a worldview that considers girls' schools a call to action in their battle against modernity.

See more in Women; Afghanistan; Pakistan

Events

Entrepreneurs and Market Linkages in Conflict and Postconflict Environments

Director: Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, Senior Fellow for Women and Foreign Policy
October 1, 2011—August 30, 2012

Despite myriad challenges, entrepreneurs in conflict and postconflict environments have succeeded in building viable businesses that stabilize families and communities and foster economic growth on a national level. While the importance of entrepreneurship has been widely discussed, little is known and has been written about what works in terms of linking entrepreneurs with markets in these environments.

This project seeks to fill that gap by investigating efforts underway in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Liberia, among others, and exploring ways to improve market linkages for entrepreneurs. It will focus on new and growing firms, as well as examine firms that have developed into large-scale enterprises. It will also analyze the unique barriers facing female entrepreneurs and suggest ways the international community can best focus its efforts to address challenges seen by entrepreneurs in conflict and post-conflict environments.

This project is made possible by the generous support of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

CFR Events

Child Marriage Amid Disaster and Conflict

Speaker:

Kristin Kim Bart, Senior Technical Advisor, Women’s Protection and Empowerment Unit, International Rescue Committee

Presider:

Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, Senior Fellow for Women and Foreign Policy, Council on Foreign Relations
February 20, 2015

This meeting is on the record.

Listen

Disrupting Poverty: The Search for Innovative Solutions

Presider:

Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, Senior Fellow for Women and Foreign Policy, Council on Foreign Relations

Speakers:

Shaifali Puri, Executive Director of Global Innovation, Nike Foundation, Suzanne Petroni, Senior Director for Gender, Population, and Development, International Center for Research on Women (ICRW)
May 20, 2014

This meeting is on the record.

Listen

Global Gender Gaps

Speaker:

Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, Senior Fellow for Women and Foreign Policy, Council on Foreign Relations

Moderator:

Irina A. Faskianos, Vice President, National Program & Outreach, Council on Foreign Relations
April 24, 2014 12:00-1:00 p.m. - (ET)

This meeting is on the record.

Listen

Consensus Building for the Most Vulnerable: Eliminating Child Marriage Globally

Presider:

Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, Senior Fellow for Women and Foreign Policy, Council on Foreign Relations

Speakers:

Giovanna Lauro, Deputy Director, Promundo-U.S., Alaka Basu, Senior Fellow, United Nations Foundation; Professor of Development Sociology, Cornell University
February 18, 2014

This meeting is on the record.

Read Listen

Child Brides in Conflict Zones and Fragile States

Speakers:

Liesl Gerntholtz, Director of Women's Rights Division, Human Rights Watch, Annie Bunting, Director of the Harriet Tubman Institute for Research on the Global Migration of African Peoples, York University

Presider:

Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, Senior Fellow for Women and Foreign Policy, Council on Foreign Relations
December 10, 2013

This meeting is on the record.

Listen

Prevention, Protection, and Prosecution: An Assessment of Anti-Trafficking Efforts

Speakers:

Holly J. Burkhalter, Vice President of Government Relations and Advocacy, International Justice Mission, E. Benjamin Skinner, Senior Vice President, Tau Investment Management

Presider:

Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, Fellow and Deputy Director, Women and Foreign Policy, Council on Foreign Relations
May 15, 2013

This meeting is on the record.

Listen

Women, War, and Peace: Lessons from the Field

Speaker:

Ryan Crocker, Kissinger Senior Fellow, Jackson Institute for Global Affairs, Yale University

Presider:

Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, Fellow and Deputy Director, Women and Foreign Policy Program, Council on Foreign Relations
December 17, 2012 12:30-2:00 p.m.

This meeting is on the record.

ListenWatch

Catalyzing Economic Growth: The Power of Entrepreneurship

Introductory Speaker:

Elizabeth Littlefield, President and Chief Executive Officer, Overseas Private Investment Corporation

Speakers:

Mildred Callear, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, Small Enterprise Assistance Funds, Richard Shumann, Senior Technical Specialist, CHF International

Presider:

Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, Fellow and Deputy Director of the Women and Foreign Policy Program, Council on Foreign Relations
May 17, 2012

This meeting is on the record.

Listen

Building Small Business Amid Great Challenge: Entrepreneurship in Fragile States

Speaker:

Shari Berenbach, Director, Microenterprise Development Office, USAID

Presider:

Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, Deputy Director, Women and Foreign Policy Program, Council on Foreign Relations
April 17, 2012

This meeting is on the record.

Listen

Strengthening Entrepreneurship in Fragile States: The Role of Entrepreneurship in Development

Speakers:

Eileen Hoffman, Senior Technical Specialist, Economic Development, CHF International, Simon Winter, Senior Vice President of Development, TechnoServe

Presider:

Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, Deputy Director, Women and Foreign Policy Program, Council on Foreign Relations
April 4, 2012

This meeting is on the record.

ListenWatch

The Battle for Justice in Afghanistan

Speakers:

Kimberley Motley, Founder and Partner, Motley Legal Services, Tanaz Eshaghian, Documentary Filmmaker

Presider:

Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, Fellow for U.S. Foreign Policy and Deputy Director, Women and Foreign Policy Program, Council on Foreign Relations
February 27, 2012

This meeting is on the record.

Listen

Building Markets for Peace

Speaker:

Scott Gilmore, Founder and Executive Director, Peace Dividend Trust

Presider:

Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, Fellow for U.S. Foreign Policy and Deputy Director, Women and Foreign Policy Program, Council on Foreign Relations
February 8, 2012

This meeting is on the record.

Listen

Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys Over Girls

Speaker:

Mara Hvistendahl, Correspondent, Science Magazine

Presiders:

Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, Fellow and Deputy Director of the Women and Foreign Policy Program, Council on Foreign Relations, Joshua Kurlantzick, Fellow for Southeast Asia, Council on Foreign Relations
February 6, 2012

This meeting is not for attribution.

Listen

21st Century Warfare: Female Engagement Teams

Speakers:

Zoe Bedell, Analyst, Foros LLC and Former Lieutenant, U.S. Marine Corps, Claire Russo, CFR International Affairs Fellow, Institute for Inclusive Security, Civilian Adviser to the U.S. Army, and Former Lieutenant, U.S. Marine Corps

Presiders:

Colonel Kathryn Burba, USA, Military Fellow, U.S. Army, Council on Foreign Relations, Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, Fellow for U.S. Foreign Policy and Deputy Director, Women and Foreign Policy Program, Council on Foreign Relations
December 14, 2011

This meeting is not for attribution.

Listen

Unlocking Potential: The Fight to Eradicate Child Marriage

Speakers:

Yasmeen Hassan, Global Director, Equality Now, Anju Malhotra, Vice President of Research, Innovation, and Impact, International Center for Research on Women

Presider:

Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, Fellow for U.S. Foreign Policy and Deputy Director, Women and Foreign Policy Program, Council on Foreign Relations
December 12, 2011

This meeting is not for attribution.

Listen

Female Entrepreneurship in Afghanistan

Speaker:

Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, Fellow and Deputy Director of the Women and Foreign Policy Program, Council on Foreign Relations
November 30, 2011 12:00-1:00 p.m. - (ET)

This meeting is not for attribution.

Listen

Taking Stock of Conflicts in Colombia, Liberia, Bosnia, and Afghanistan: Women, War & Peace

Speaker:

Abigail E. Disney, Cocreator, Women, War & Peace and Founder, Daphne Foundation

Presiders:

Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, Fellow for U.S. Foreign Policy and Deputy Director of the Women and Foreign Policy Program, Council on Foreign Relations, Stewart M. Patrick, Senior Fellow and Director of the International Institutions and Global Governance Program, Council on Foreign Relations
November 14, 2011

This meeting is on the record.

ListenWatch

Why Women Matter in Peacebuilding

Speakers:

Michelle Bachelet, Undersecretary General and Executive Director, UN Women, Carla Koppell, Senior Coordinator, Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment, USAID, Sanam Naraghi-Anderlini, Standby Team of Senior Mediation Advisers, United Nations (2011-2012) and Cofounder, International Civil Society Action Network, Rosa Brooks, Professor of Law, Georgetown University Law Center, and Former Special Coordinator for Rule of Law and Humanitarian Policy, U.S. Department of Defense

Presiders:

Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, Fellow and Deputy Director of Women and Foreign Policy, Council on Foreign Relations, Stewart M. Patrick, Senior Fellow and Director of the International Institutions and Global Governance Program, Council on Foreign Relations
November 14, 2011

This meeting is on the record.

ListenWatch

Human Trafficking: A Conversation with Civil Courage Prize Winners Lydia Cacho Ribeiro and Triveni Acharya

Speakers:

Lydia Cacho Ribeiro, Founder and Director, Refuge Center for Abused Women; Author of Slaves of Power: A Journey to the Heart of World Sex Trafficking of Women, Triveni Acharya, President, Rescue Foundation

Presider:

Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, Fellow for U.S. Foreign Policy and Deputy Director of the Women and Foreign Policy Program, Council on Foreign Relations
October 19, 2011

This meeting is not for attribution.

Listen

Women, War & Peace

Speakers:

Abigail E. Disney, Co-creator, Women, War & Peace, Pamela Hogan, Co-creator, Women, War & Peace, Gini Reticker, Co-creator, Women, War & Peace, Leymah Gbowee, 2011 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and Executive Director, Women Peace and Security Network–Africa (WIPSEN)

Presider:

Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, Fellow for U.S. Foreign Policy and Deputy Director of the Women and Foreign Policy Program, Council on Foreign Relations
October 18, 2011

This meeting is not for attribution.

Listen

Conflict, Gender, and Civic Participation in Afghanistan

Speaker:

Samantha Leader, Former Regional Program Manager and Chief Technical Adviser, United Nations Centre for Human Settlement (UN-HABITAT)

Presider:

Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, Fellow for U.S. Foreign Policy and Deputy Director of the Women and Foreign Policy Program, Council on Foreign Relations
October 17, 2011

This meeting is not for attribution.

Listen

Press/Panels

Article

As Deadline Nears, Special Ops Chiefs Talk Women In Combat

The experience of the all-female Cultural Support Teams looms large as former U.S. Special Operations Command commander Eric Olson and current chief Gen. Joseph Votel talk about the future of women as special operators.

 

Article

Flags of Our Daughters: Honoring the Women Warriors Who Serve Our Country

For FoxNews.com, Gayle Tzemach Lemmon writes, “As we pause to celebrate America’s foundations and to remember those who fought valiantly for the nation’s independence, let us also take a moment to celebrate the future force ready to defend the nation come what may.  And that force is, increasingly, filled with women like Ashley White and her teammates.”

Gayle Tzemach Lemmon on the Sound of Ideas

On Ohio Public Radio’s Sound of Ideas, Gayle Tzemach Lemmon speaks with First Lieutenant Ashley White’s sister and mother, along with Captain Meghan Curran, who served alongside Ashley in CST-2. 

Speech

Gayle Tzemach Lemmon at TEDWomen 2015

In 2011, the US Armed Forces still had a ban on women in combat — but in that year, a Special Operations team of women was sent to Afghanistan to serve on the front lines, to build rapport with locals and try to help bring an end to the war. Reporter Gayle Tzemach Lemmon tells the story of this "band of sisters," an extraordinary group of women warriors who helped break a long-standing barrier to serve.

Watch

Article

Ashley's War: A Special Ops Heroine

Gayle Tzemach Lemmon talks with the Washington Post’s Neely Tucker on why she chose to follow the story of 1st Lt. Ashley White and CST-2.

Article

19 Women Washed Out of Army Range School. That's Actually a Good Thing.

In the Washington Post, Gayle Tzemach Lemmon writes that though last week “eight women washed out of the Army’s prestigious Ranger School after eleven others didn’t make it past the first cut,” the first co-ed class in Ranger School history was not a failure. Rather, the result shows that the high standards of Ranger School were maintained when women were allowed to compete.

Article

Our Secret Weapon

Slate features an excerpt of Ashley’s War

Article

Cultural Support Team Women Served With Distinction

In a U.S. Department of Defense news release, Terri Moon Cronk describes a panel moderated by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon on women in cultural support teams at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Video Interview

Women in the War Zone

Gayle Tzemach Lemmon discusses Ashley’s War and the current status of women in special operations forces on CNBC’s Squawk Box

Watch

Article

Reese Witherspoon Is Building the Ultimate Book Club

For Time, journalist Sarah Begley reports that Ashley’s War, along with other recent books with female leads, serves as the inspiration for an upcoming film by Reese Witherspoon’s production company Pacific Standard.

 

Video Interview

Child Marriage, the Lives of Girls, and the Policies to Protect Them

On NPR's Radio Times with Marty Moss-Coane, Lemmon and the International Center for Research on Women's Ann Warner discuss how child marriage not only leaves young girls vulnerable to physical and psychological health problems, but also has serious implications for community and global development goals.

Listen

Video Interview

U.S. Builds Case to Link Russia to Plane Crash

Lemmon joins Luke Russert to discuss the latest in the MH17 plane crash over Ukraine and the international reaction to the tragedy. She notes that Germany's economic relationship with Russia complicates the EU response.

Watch

Video Interview

Death of American Diplomat in Afghanistan

On the death of American diplomat Anne Smedinghoff in Afghanistan, Lemmon says to Andrea Mitchell on MSN that Smedinghoff's death is a blow to those fighting for Afghanistan to join the rest of the world and not slide back into civil war.

Watch

Video Interview

Women in the Workforce

Speaking with Andrea Mitchell on MSN, Lemmon says that a growing number of people think that the way work is structured does not match the way America lives, and that recent decisions by major companies to rescind the right to work from home is tone deaf.

Watch

Video Interview

Four Star Rockstars of the U.S. Military

Lemmon argues on Rock Center with Brian Williams that "We're getting farther and farther from the war actually being waged in Afghanistan. And to make ourselves okay with this we make celebrities out of the men asked to lead these wars".

Watch

Video Interview

Lemmon on U.S. Election and Foreign Policy

In an interview for Bloomberg, Lemmon discusses the most recent U.S. presidential debate and the role that foreign policy will play as election day looms near.

Watch

Video Interview

The Struggle for Girls' Education

The battle for girls' education in Afghanistan is everyone's fight because "there is no better correlation to predicting violence than education levels" argues Lemmon in an interview on CBS This Morning.

Watch

Video Interview

The "War on Women" and Afghan Women's Rights

Lemmon speaks with Andrea Mitchell about the fight for women's votes in the upcoming U.S. presidential election and the need to engage Afghan women in peace negotiations as international forces drawdown.

Watch

Video Interview

Protecting Afghan Women

Protecting Afghan women's rights "isn't about American altruism, but about leaving behind a state that is stable so that America doesn't have to go back in" argues CFR Fellow Gayle Tzemach Lemmon on MSNBC's "Andrea Mitchell Reports."

Watch

Video Interview

Equality for Afghan Women a "Must Have"

In an interview with news anchor Christiane Amanpour, Gayle Tzemach Lemmon argues that the struggle to protect Afghan women's rights "is not about special treatment, it is about the basic right to contribute to your family—to go to school and go to work, and Afghan women have fought for those rights for a long time."

Watch

Video Interview

Entrepreneurs Defying the Odds

On The Early Show, Lemmon discusses how Afghan entrepreneurs (and especially women) shape the future of peace in Afghanistan.

Watch

Video Interview

Resilience Amid Recession

Lemmon calls on the world to move beyond "micro hopes" and "micro ambitions" for women who are creating jobs against daunting obstacles.

Watch