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Council on Foreign Relations Religion and Foreign Policy Bulletin
March 2013

March 2013

Women's Rights in India

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(Courtesy Reuters)


A spate of sexual assault cases in India have sparked a national debate over women's rights and the need for social reform in the rapidly modernizing country. Reference this CFR Backgrounder to better understand the nation's relevant legislation, gender equality status, and the potential for reform.


Spotlight on Jennifer Bryson

Jennifer Bryson is passionate about understanding Islam and finding opportunities to partner with Muslim advocates on issues such as religious freedom. Her work as a journalist and for the Department of Defense has taken her across the world. This year, Dr. Bryson is a visiting research professor at the Army War College's Peacekeeping and Stability Operations Institute, where she teaches courses on religion and violence, and Islam and modernity. When she is not teaching, she serves as the director of the Islam and Civil Society Project at the Witherspoon Institute.

The Pope as Diplomat

In this Foreign Affairs snapshot, National Catholic Register's Rome correspondent Edward Pentin evaluates Pope Benedict XVI's foreign policy legacy. Recognizing the former pontiff's shortcomings, Pentin calls attention to the fact that under Pope Benedict XVI's rule, the Holy See established diplomatic relations with several new countries, including Russia, and improved its ties with many more, including Israel, Vietnam, and Saudi Arabia. Read more »

Is Religion Good for Women?

CFR's Isobel Coleman contributes her analysis of how religion affects the status and rights of women around the world to the Tony Blair Faith Foundation's blog. Coleman cites instances where religious arguments expand women's opportunities, as well as where they restrict them. For her, "the important question is not whether religion is 'good' or 'bad' for women, but how to harness its indisputable power and influence for positive change." Visit the Blog »

A New Extremist Group Terrorizes Northern Nigeria

CFR's John Campbell, the former ambassador to Nigeria, analyzes the emergence of Ansaru, a new radical Islamic group terrorizing Northern Nigeria. Comparing the motivations, origins, and strategies of Ansaru to the better-known extremist group, Boko Haram, Campbell holds that "Ansaru's new salience represents another, serious challenge to Nigeria's stability" and Western interests. Read more »

Israel's New Government: Three Things to Know

Israel's new coalition government, which CFR's Rob Danin believes has significant staying power, is deeply divided on prospects for peace with the Palestinians. According to him, domestic issues, rather than foreign, will dominate the government's agenda, which means that the question of Iran and international aggressors will be handled by the prime minister and Israel's national security apparatus. Watch the Video »