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Council on Foreign Relations Women and Foreign Policy - March 2014

Women in the Middle East

New Hopes for Yemeni Women

At a Council on Foreign Relations meeting in February, former Yemeni prime minister Abdul Karim Ali al-Eryani discussed his country's recently concluded National Dialogue Conference (NDC) and cited gains for women's rights as among its greatest achievements. Senior Fellow Isobel Coleman reviews the NDC's recommendations for the new constitution, including a 30 percent quota for women in all branches of government and a legal end to child marriage. Coleman concludes that while realizing the recommendations represents an enormous challenge, they are a positive step. Read the blog post on Democracy in Development »

Gains for Women in the Middle East

Speaking on the America Abroad radio program, Coleman assesses the progress of women's rights in the Middle East. She notes that despite many negative headlines, women have been making strides in the region, especially at the grassroots level and in education as female attainment continues to rise. Coleman also discusses how several post-revolution constitutions have expanded women's rights. Listen to the conversation on America Abroad »

Ending Child Marriage

Building Consensus in the Fight to End Child Marriage

Senior Fellow Gayle T. Lemmon presided over a roundtable meeting on the need for consensus building to combat child marriage from the local to international level. Featuring Alaka Basu, senior fellow at the United Nations Foundation and Cornell University professor, and Giovanna Lauro, deputy director of Promundo-US, the conversation focused on the role that men, religious leaders, private sector leaders, and other "unlikely allies" can play in ending child marriage globally. Listen to the roundtable conversation on »

Youth Education and Employment

Monitoring Youth Education

"By prioritizing education at all levels, governments can reduce unemployment rates, inspire entrepreneurship, formalize the job market, and, ultimately, build more resilient economies," writes Lemmon in a recent blog post. Citing research from the UNESCO's Education for All Global Monitoring Report, Lemmon explains how education can reduce poverty by leading to increased wages and helping to diversify economic opportunities. She explains why educating women, who comprise two-thirds of the world's illiterate, will not only raise the status of girls and women globally, but also contribute to economic growth. Read the blog post on the Development Channel »

Tapping into Africa’s Potential

Lynn ElHarake, research associate for the Women and Foreign Policy program, reviews a report from the World Bank on youth employment in sub-Saharan Africa. Highlighting Africa's rapidly growing workforce, ElHarake argues that creating more inclusive opportunities for young people, especially women, can propel economic growth for the continent. She writes that "in order to ensure stability and sustain growth in African private and public sectors, policy must inspire job opportunities and homegrown entrepreneurship." Read the blog post on Africa in Transition »



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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