The Women and Foreign Policy program is a major component of CFR's Civil Society, Markets, and Democracy initiative. The objective of the Women and Foreign Policy program is to bring the status of women firmly into the mainstream foreign policy debate. Thanks in part to its efforts, there is now broad understanding of the importance of women's empowerment to a host of development, health, security, and other global priorities.
The program's current areas of focus include:
Improving maternal health in Afghanistan.
U.S. leadership in international reproductive health and family planning.
The role of technology and private sector resources in empowering women economically.
Entrepreneurs and market linkages in conflict and post-conflict environments.
Linda Bartlett, an esteemed scientist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, discusses maternal health in Afghanistan, highlighting her experiences during the Reproductive Age Mortality Survey (RAMOS), which she had conducted on horseback only months after the fall of the Taliban in 2002.
This roundtable, part of the ExxonMobil Women and Development Series, looked at successful and sustainable agricultural innovations used to enhance productivity and women's income-generating abilities in the developing world.
Experience has shown that community-based interventions not only reduce maternal mortality in Afghanistan, but also complement broader efforts to achieve stability and development in this war-torn country. Denise Byrd, an expert in maternal and child health, reproductive health, and family planning, described the challenges faced by maternal health providers in Afghanistan and discussed several successful intervention programs.
CFR's Isobel Coleman, Senior Fellow for U.S. Foreign Policy and Director of the Women and Foreign Policy Program sits down with Anne-Marie Slaughter, Former Director of Policy Planning at the U.S. State Deparment, to discuss the State Department's approach to alleviating poverty and empowering women in the developing world.
The United States should see family planning as a foreign policy priority that leads to healthier and more prosperous societies, and should increase funding, resources and support for those countries with the highest unmet need, argues CFR's Isobel Coleman.
Investment in voluntary international family planning is one of the most cost-effective ways to strengthen critical U.S. foreign policy objectives, including improving global health, promoting economic development, stabilizing fragile states, and encouraging environmental sustainability.
Family planning and reproductive health programs improve public health and foster stability and economic growth. Dr. Koki Agarwal, director of the MCHIP Program at Jhpiego, argues that such investments are necessary for the success of U.S. foreign policy goals in countries with high population growth.
Current global population growth rates and consumption patterns are not environmentally sustainable. Integrated population and environment approaches would allow governments to effectively address these at both a macro and micro level.
U.S. foreign aid will be more effective if increased investments are made in reproductive health and family planning programs in high-population-growth countries. These cost-effective programs help reduce the stress that rapid population growth places on a country's economic, environmental, and social resources.
One of the greatest challenges facing the poorest developing countries is the urgent need for comprehensive, integrated reproductive health services. If unanswered, this challenge will jeopardize poverty reduction measures and threaten their long-term economic growth prospects.