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.
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.
Michelle Bachelet, Executive Director of UN Women and former president of Chile, discusses the empowerment of women around the world with CFR's Director of Studies, James Lindsay. Bachelet emphasizes the importance of contextualizing the support provided in each country, and the need to combine both top-down and bottom-up approaches.
Isobel Coleman writes: "If a brave new world of electoral politics does emerge, women's rights activists will have to be savvy - commanding international support without raising fears of undue Western influence."