Rachel B. Vogelstein

Senior Fellow and Director of the Women and Foreign Policy Program


Women and foreign policy; human rights; child marriage; global health; maternal and child health; education; development and the role of women


Rachel B. Vogelstein is a senior fellow and director of the Women and Foreign Policy Program at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) in Washington, DC. At CFR, Ms. Vogelstein's research focuses on the relationship between women's advancement and prosperity, stability, and security. She is also a professor of gender and U.S. foreign policy at Georgetown Law School.

From 2009 to 2012, Ms. Vogelstein was director of policy and senior advisor in the Office of Global Women's Issues within the Office of the Secretary of State at the U.S. Department of State. In this capacity, she advised then-Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton and Ambassador Melanne Verveer, the first-ever U.S. ambassador-at-large for global women's issues, on a range of foreign policy issues related to the advancement of women. She also represented the U.S. Department of State as a member of the White House Council on Women and Girls. Following her tenure at the State Department, she served as the director of Women and Girls Programs in the Office of Hillary Rodham Clinton at the Clinton Foundation, where she oversaw the development of the No Ceilings initiative and provided guidance on domestic and global women’s issues. 

Ms. Vogelstein is an attorney by training with expertise on gender equality. Prior to joining the State Department, Ms. Vogelstein was an advisor to then-Senator and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, serving as assistant counsel to Senator Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign and as an advisor to her first U.S. Senate campaign. She also was senior counsel at the National Women's Law Center in Washington, DC, where she specialized in women's health and reproductive rights. In 2004, she was awarded an Equal Justice Works Fellowship to work on women's health policy. She has lectured widely on the rights of women and girls, including at the U.S. Congressional Women's Caucus, U.S. Department of State, U.S. Foreign Service Institute, the World Bank, the Brookings Institution, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and Harvard Law School.

Ms. Vogelstein graduated magna cum laude from Barnard College, Columbia University and cum laude from Georgetown Law School, where she was executive editor of the Georgetown Law Journal. Following law school, Ms. Vogelstein clerked for the Honorable Thomas L. Ambro on the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. She is a recipient of the Secretary of State's Superior Honor Award and a National Association of Women Lawyers Award.


French (familiar); Spanish (familiar)

Ending Child Marriage

Every day, girls around the world are forced to leave their families, marry against their will, endure sexual and physical abuse, and bear children while still in childhood themselves. Yet, child marriage is not simply a human rights violation; it is also a threat to the prosperity and stability of the countries in which it is prevalent and undermines U.S. development and foreign policy priorities. Child marriage perpetuates poverty over generations and is linked to poor health, curtailed education, violence, instability, and disregard for the rule of law. Its effects are harmful not only to girls, but also to families, communities, and economies—and to U.S. interests—around the globe. My working paper, Ending Child Marriage, argues that this practice merits a higher place on the U.S. and international agendas. In op-eds, interviews, and roundtable meetings, I further explore the available data on child marriage and the approaches that best work to combat it.

Advancing Girls' Education

The education of girls has long been considered one of the single most effective development investments that can be made. Providing girls with quality education not only empowers them throughout their lives, but also has ripple effects across generations. Studies have shown that educated mothers are more likely to immunize their children and protect them from chronic disease. Research also suggests a relationship between increases in girls' secondary education and economic growth. However, too many girls lack access to a safe, quality education, particularly at the secondary level, despite the development gains correlated with girls' education. Through roundtable meetings, panel discussions, and op-eds, I discuss how girls' education advances U.S. interests and highlight strategies to reduce barriers to girls' education.

Featured Publications

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Recent Activity from Women Around the World

CFR Events

Meeting ⁄ Washington

Smart U.S. Foreign Assistance

Speaker Dana Hyde

Chief Executive Officer, Millennium Challenge Corporation

Presider Rachel B. Vogelstein

Senior Fellow and Director, Women and Foreign Policy Program, Council on Foreign Relations

May 12, 2015

This meeting is on the record.


Meeting ⁄ New York

A Conversation with Ambassador Catherine M. Russell

Speaker Catherine M. Russell

Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues, U.S. Department of State

Presider Rachel B. Vogelstein

Fellow for Women and Foreign Policy, Council on Foreign Relations

June 26, 2014

This meeting is on the record.



Ending Child Marriage: Legal Approaches

Speakers Jody Heymann

Dean, Fielding School of Public Health, University of California, Los Angeles; Founding Director, World Policy Analysis Center

, Yasmeen Hassan

Global Director, Equality Now

Presider Rachel B. Vogelstein

Fellow for Women and Foreign Policy, Council on Foreign Relations

April 23, 2014

This meeting is on the record.



U.S. Foreign Policy and the Rights of Women and Girls

Speaker Rachel B. Vogelstein

Senior Fellow and Director of the Women and Foreign Policy Program, Council on Foreign Relations

Moderator Irina A. Faskianos

Vice President, National Program & Outreach, Council on Foreign Relations

October 9, 2013 12:00–1:00 p.m.

This meeting is on the record.



Child Marriage and U.S. Foreign Policy

Speakers Donald K. SteinbergDeputy Administrator, U.S. Agency for International Development, Helene D. GaylePresident and Chief Executive Officer, CARE USA
Presider Rachel B. VogelsteinFellow for Women and Foreign Policy, Council on Foreign Relations
May 22, 2013

This meeting is on the record.

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