image

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

Tender Shoots of Green

Author: Gayle Tzemach Lemmon
Foreign Policy

"While the United States may want to shed its Afghanistan obligations -- including its commitment to supporting the Afghan economy -- those who care about Afghanistan's security, and America's, will want to make certain the green shoots get tended," writes Gayle Tzemach-Lemmon

See more in Afghanistan; Nation Building

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

Roundtable Meeting ⁄ Washington

Child Marriage Amid Disaster and Conflict

This meeting is on the record.

Listen

Roundtable Meeting ⁄ New York

Disrupting Poverty: The Search for Innovative Solutions

This meeting is on the record.

Listen

Academic Conference Call

Global Gender Gaps

This meeting is on the record.

Listen

Roundtable Meeting ⁄ New York

Consensus Building for the Most Vulnerable: Eliminating Child Marriage Globally

This meeting is on the record.

Read Listen

Roundtable Meeting ⁄ New York

Child Brides in Conflict Zones and Fragile States

This meeting is on the record.

Listen

Roundtable Meeting

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

This meeting is on the record.

Listen

Conference Panel Session

Women, War, and Peace: Lessons from the Field

This meeting is on the record.

ListenWatch

Roundtable Meeting

Catalyzing Economic Growth: The Power of Entrepreneurship

This meeting is on the record.

Listen

Roundtable Meeting

Building Small Business Amid Great Challenge: Entrepreneurship in Fragile States

This meeting is on the record.

Listen

Roundtable Meeting

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

This meeting is on the record.

ListenWatch

Roundtable Meeting

The Battle for Justice in Afghanistan

This meeting is on the record.

Listen

Roundtable Meeting

Building Markets for Peace

This meeting is on the record.

Listen

Roundtable Meeting

Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys Over Girls

This meeting is not for attribution.

Listen

Roundtable Meeting

21st Century Warfare: Female Engagement Teams

This meeting is not for attribution.

Listen

Roundtable Meeting

Unlocking Potential: The Fight to Eradicate Child Marriage

This meeting is not for attribution.

Listen

Academic Conference Call

Female Entrepreneurship in Afghanistan

This meeting is not for attribution.

Listen

Roundtable Meeting

Why Women Matter in Peacebuilding

This meeting is on the record.

ListenWatch

Roundtable Meeting

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

This meeting is on the record.

ListenWatch

Roundtable Meeting

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

This meeting is not for attribution.

Listen

Roundtable Meeting

Women, War & Peace

This meeting is not for attribution.

Listen

Roundtable Meeting

Conflict, Gender, and Civic Participation in Afghanistan

This meeting is not for attribution.

Listen

Press/Panels

Radio Interview

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. 

Listen

Article

When G.I. Jane Comes Home

When Americans think of veterans, they rarely think of women; that must change.

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