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Council on Foreign Relations Women and Foreign Policy Update May 2013

Ending Child Marriage

Combating Child Marriage Bolsters U.S. Foreign Policy

Every year, almost five million girls under fifteen years old are married, as are many millions more under the age of eighteen. In May, CFR released a new report by Fellow Rachel Vogelstein, Ending Child Marriage: How Elevating the Status of Girls Advances U.S. Foreign Policy Objectives. The report explains the causes of this destructive practice, the negative impact of child marriage on U.S. foreign policy goals, and the ways that the United States can work to end this practice. "The reach and success of U.S. efforts to improve global health, bolster education, foster economic growth, and promote stability and the rule of law will grow stronger if this persistent practice comes to an end," Vogelstein concludes. View Vogelstein's blog post and video about the report on the Development Channel, and read Senior Fellow Isobel Coleman's take on the report on the Democracy in Development blog. Read the Council Report »

Women and Sports

Creating New Athletic Opportunities for Girls in Saudi Arabia

Building on last year's decision to allow Saudi women to participate in the Olympics, this month the Saudi government officially allowed girls in private schools to play sports. There is speculation that girls in public schools could soon have this opportunity as well. Coleman argues on her blog that such steps, although incremental, are paving the way for broader opportunities for women in the Kingdom. Read the Blog Post on Democracy in Development »

Gender Equality Supports Economic Growth

CFR Fellow Terra Lawson-Remer notes on the Development Channel that "…while a valuable goal in itself, greater gender equality is also correlated with the achievement of other development goals, such as improvements in health, education, social and economic rights fulfillment, and even economic growth." In Saudi Arabia, Lawson-Remer writes, gender equality "may help sustain and increase high levels of development in the long term." Read the Blog Post on the Development Channel »

The Global Status of Women

Evaluating Afghan Women’s Prospects After 2014

Some members of Afghanistan's parliament are against passing a law that extends basic protections to women, explains CFR Fellow Gayle Tzemach Lemmon. This measure is already in effect as a result of a 2009 presidential decree, but parliamentary approval is a barometer of leaders' attitudes and would strengthen the measure over the long-term. "Fears abound that as 2014 approaches and the international presence in the country dwindles, women's rights will become increasingly invisible collateral damage," says Lemmon. Read the Article on the Atlantic »

Debating Hillary Clinton’s Legacy

In a New York Times Room for Debate feature on Hillary Clinton, Coleman argues that "as secretary of state, [Clinton] persistently connected the dots between women's rights and major foreign policy concerns such as global economic development, food security, extremism and political stability." Coleman highlights Clinton's efforts to defend the rights of women across the globe and to make women's rights a permanent part of the State Department's work. Read the Blog Post on the New York Times »



CFR's Women and Foreign Policy program works with leading scholars to analyze how elevating the status of women and girls advances U.S. foreign policy objectives and to bring the status of women into the mainstream foreign policy debate. Among its areas of focus are global health and education, the role of women in peacekeeping, and women’s economic participation.

Rachel Vogelstein
Director and Senior Fellow, Women and
Foreign Policy Program

Catherine Powell
Fellow, Women and
Foreign Policy Program

Gayle Tzemach Lemmon
Senior Fellow, Women and
Foreign Policy Program

Hannah Chartoff
Research Associate, Women and
Foreign Policy Program

Valerie Wirtschafter
Research Associate, Women and
Foreign Policy Program


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