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Council on Foreign Relations Women and Foreign Policy Update November 2013

Girls' Education and Empowerment

Empowering Girls Through Conditional Cash Transfers

Senior Fellow Gayle Lemmon discusses how investing in girls' education fights poverty, and identifies cultural and economic barriers that impede millions of girls worldwide from accessing education. Using evidence from the Female Secondary School Assistance Program in Bangladesh, Lemmon reviews how conditional cash transfers can enable girls to extend their education, delay marriage, and ultimately increase their contributions to social and economic growth. Read the blog post on the Development Channel »

Educating the Girl Child and Eliminating Child Marriage

In honor of the International Day of the Girl Child, Lemmon calls attention to the economic and social benefits of promoting girls' education—for the girls, their families, and their communities. She draws a direct connection between girls' education and child marriage, writing that a girl who receives seven or more years of schooling will marry an average of four years later. Read the article on »

Women in the Arab World

Taking the Wheel for Women’s Rights

Covering Saudi Arabia's most recent nationwide protest of the ban on women driving, Senior Fellow Isobel Coleman reviews the country's gradual progress in women's rights. Citing steps such as the government's acquiescence to Saudi women's participation in the 2012 Olympics and King Abdullah's decision to name thirty women to his advisory council, Coleman notes that the country has made incremental improvements. Still, Saudi women continue to face significant legal and social challenges. Read the blog post on Democracy in Development »

Bringing Women into Egyptian Politics

Coleman writes about the announcement by Egypt's Constituent Assembly that 25 percent of municipal seats will be reserved for women. Reviewing how post-revolution electoral laws in Tunisia and Libya have used a "zipper list" system to bring women into politics, Coleman notes that in contrast Egyptian women have been left behind when it comes to political participation. Egypt's decision to use quotas for women at the municipal level is a step toward addressing their political exclusion. "Having a voice at the table—even if it is quiet—can be better than having no voice at all," she writes. Read the blog post on Democracy in Development »

The Central Place of Women in Business and Economics

Promoting Gender Equality for Economic Growth

Rachel Vogelstein discusses the striking results of increasing female labor-force participation for economies and per capita incomes and details how countries that still enforce laws restricting women's economic participation are limiting their economies. Drawing on themes from the International Monetary Fund's (IMF) annual meeting, CFR Senior Fellow Heidi Crebo-Rediker analyzes the growing trend in turning to gender-driven policies for economic growth and offers reasons why groups like the IMF, World Bank, and Organizaton for Economic Cooperation and Development are using "Womenomics." In a guest post on the Development Channel, Henriette Kolb, head of the Gender Secretariat at the International Finance Corporation, assesses the economic benefits of gender equality for economies and reviews evidence that increasing women's labor participation and closing gender gaps in the labor market lead to GDP growth. Read the blog posts on the Development Channel »


Reminder Call for Applications

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

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

Highlights From the Past Year

Learn more about CFR's mission and its work in the 2013 Annual Report (free PDF). The report spotlights new initiatives, high-profile events, and authoritative scholarship from CFR experts, and includes a message from CFR President Richard N. Haass.


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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