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Council on Foreign Relations Women and Foreign Policy Update October 2013

Women and Economic Growth

Rising Female Entrepreneurship in the Arab World

Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, CFR senior fellow in the Women and Foreign Policy program, calls attention to what some experts are referring to as the "start-up spring," the rise of young entrepreneurs across the Arab world. Lemmon discusses how entrepreneurship may be the answer to the region's high unemployment rates, especially among the growing youth population, and why technology start-up companies can play an important role in countries facing transition and instability. Lemmon also recognizes women as a driving force of the region's entrepreneurial revolution, noting that women comprise approximately 35 percent of the Arab world's start-up labor force and are surpassing their peers in other regions. Read the blog post on the Development Channel »

Empowering Women Small-Business Owners

Isobel Coleman, CFR senior fellow and director of the Civil Society, Markets, and Democracy Initiative, writes on the economic benefits of investing in small businesses, especially those owned by women in the developing world. Drawing on the findings of a recently released report from the UN Foundation and ExxonMobil, A Roadmap for Promoting Women's Economic Empowerment, Coleman highlights how giving women access to the same resources, skills-building programs, and finance opportunities as their male peers will allow women to grow their businesses and contribute to economic growth, innovation, and stability. The Women and Foreign Policy program organized a roundtable meeting on "Empowering the Bottom Billion: Strategies for Growing Micro-Enterprises" as part of the ExxonMobil Women and Development Roundtable Series. Read the blog post on the Development Channel »

Women in Conflict Zones

Preventing Child Marriage in Conflict Zones

Citing research from World Vision, Human Rights Watch, and other international organizations, Lemmon reviews factors that may lead to higher rates of child marriage in areas affected by social and political instability, including increased sexual harassment, heightened poverty, and fears for the girl's honor. Lemmon also discusses why these marriages further expose girls to gender-based violence, domestic abuse, the dangers of early childbirth, and more. Read the blog post on the Development Channel »

U.S. Leadership in Women’s Empowerment

Recognizing the Rights of Girls and Women

Lemmon writes for the Daily Beast about Hillary Clinton's leadership in advancing women's rights on the U.S. foreign policy agenda. Rembering Clinton's 1995 speech in Beijing where she said "it is no longer acceptable to discuss women's rights as separate from human rights," Lemmon commends Clinton's continued efforts to move girls and women to the forefront of U.S. priorities, and highlights how the role of women in foreign policy has changed since 1995, and what has stayed the same. Read the article on the Daily Beast »

Reproductive Health and U.S. Foreign Policy

Prioritizing Family Planning in U.S. Foreign Aid

In honor of World Contraception Day, Lynn ElHarake, research associate in the Women and Foreign Policy program, reviews past and current U.S. policies on international aid to family planning programs. Noting Washington's historical leadership in family planning program implementation and funding, ElHarake draws the correlation between U.S. investments in family planning, accelerated progress toward international development goals, and improved social stability. Read the blog post on the Development Channel »


Reminder Call for Applications

CFR is seeking applicants for four 2014–2015 fellowship programs:

October 31 Application Deadline:

International Affairs Fellowship (IAF)

IAF in Japan, sponsored by Hitachi, Ltd.

December 16 Application Deadline:

Stanton Nuclear Security Fellowship

January 17 Application Deadline:

IAF in Nuclear Security, sponsored by the Stanton Foundation

Program details, eligibility requirements, and application instructions can be found online at


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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