Catherine Powell is an adjunct senior fellow in the Women and Foreign Policy program at the Council on Foreign Relations. She is also on the American Journal of International Law board of editors, is a visiting professor at Columbia Law School (fall 2016), and is on the full time faculty at Fordham Law School, where she teaches international law, human rights, constitutional law, and comparative constitutional law. She took a leave from academia from 2009 to 2012 to serve on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's Policy Planning Staff (on gender, human rights, and international organizations) and on the White House National Security Council staff as director for human rights in the Obama administration. After a stint as a full time visiting professor at Georgetown University School of Law from 2012 to 2013, she returned to the Fordham.
She is a graduate of Yale College and Yale Law School, where she was an editor on the Yale Law Journal, and obtained a master’s degree in public affairs from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University. After her graduate work, she was a post-graduate Ford Fellow in Teaching International Law at Harvard Law School and then clerked for Judge Leonard B. Sand on the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of New York.
She was founding director of both the Human Rights Institute and the Human Rights Clinic at Columbia Law School, where she was a clinical professor from 1998 to 2002, and was a visiting scholar at the Hebrew University Faculty of Law in Jerusalem, Israel, from 2002 to 2003. In addition to previously serving on the Human Rights Watch board, she has been a consultant on national security and human rights matters for Center for American Progress and American Constitution Society. Her recent publications include “Reflections on Zivotofsky v. Kerry: Presidential Signing Statements and Dialogic Constitutionalism,” American Journal of International Law Unbound (2015); Gender Indicators as Global Governance: Not Your Father's World Bank, chapter in Big Data, Big Challenges in Evidenced-Based Policy Making (Kumar Jayasuriya ed., 2015) (West Academic Press, Publisher), to be reprinted in seventeen Georgetown Journal of Gender and the Law (forthcoming 2016); “Libya: A Multilateral Constitutional Moment?” American Journal of International Law (2012); and “A Missed Opportunity to Lead by Example,” New York Times, "Room for Debate on Have Treaties Gone Out of Style?," 2012. She is currently writing on gender, development, and national security matters.
Women, Peace, and Security in an Era of Conflict
Women in conflict zones not only disproportionately bear the brunt of war, they are also systematically underrepresented in efforts to resolve conflict and rebuild peace. Yet research demonstrates that women's involvement—through positions in politics, peacemaking, peacekeeping, conflict prevention, the military, law enforcement, and rule of law institutions—is vital, not only to advancing gender equality, but also to building stronger and more sustainable peace and security in post-conflict states. With 2015 marking the fifteen year anniversary of UN Security Council Resolution 1325—the first on women, peace, and security—the Project on Women, Peace, and Security in an Era of Conflict looks to identify ways to empower women in peacemaking and peacekeeping efforts. The project builds on my past work on Women and Girls in the Afghanistan Transition, and examines the new challenges to the women, peace, and security through speaking engagements, meetings of the Women and Foreign Policy roundtable series, Women Around the World blog posts, and other writings.
Gender and Terrorism
Terrorist groups such as the self-proclaimed Islamic State and Boko Haram increasingly target women and girls. As a result, integrating gender into the formulation and implementation of antiterrorism strategies is critical. The Project on Gender and Terrorism examines the effects of terrorism on women, their role in countering it, and how women’s empowerment can stem violent extremism more generally. The project also looks at the potential culpability of women as terrorists, including when forced into terrorist activity (i.e., through threats of violence). The project examines these issues through meetings of the Women and Foreign Policy roundtable series, Women Around the World blog posts, and other CFR publications.
Gender and Technology
Building on the Women and Foreign Policy Program’s past work on the tools of technology (i.e., mobile banking, agricultural technology, and access to technology), the Project on Gender and Technology focuses on broader gender disparities that exist in internet connectivity, digital literacy, and coveted technology sector jobs, particularly in the developing world. Besides examining the implications of the “gig” economy for women, the project will make recommendations on ways to close the gendered digital divide, with a focus on strengthening women’s participation in the economy (such as by starting businesses with online platforms that assist with balancing work and family), political activism, cross-cultural dialogue, online education, and reporting crime (such as gender-based violence). The project examines these matters through meetings of the Women and Foreign Policy roundtable series, Women Around the World blog posts, and other CFR publications.