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Council on Foreign Relations Women and Foreign Policy - April 2014

International Women’s Day 2014

Tracking the Progress of Women in the Middle East

In honor of International Women's Day, the Wilson Center's Middle East Program again published a compilation of views from experts on the challenges and opportunities facing women in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Reviewing the publication, Senior Fellow Isobel Coleman concludes: "Taken together, the contributions in this publication offer not only interesting insights on women's rights and status, but also grounds for hope that, indeed, women are truly transforming the MENA region." Read the blog post on Democracy in Development »

Realizing the Economic Potential of Women

Senior Fellow Gayle Tzemach Lemmon assesses the challenges that women running small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) face in accessing credit. Citing the recent launch of the Women Entrepreneurs Opportunity Facility fund, which aims to raise $600 million to help 100,000 female entrepreneurs fund their SMEs, Lemmon highlights emerging international initiatives that will help close the financing gap for women. "The public and private sectors both stand to benefit when women are able to fully participate in their economies," writes Lemmon, adding that "bringing women into the formal financial sector will not only spur growth, but transform societies." Read the blog post on the Development Channel »

The Role of Social Enterprise in Women’s Empowerment

Creating a Global Market for Clean Cookstoves

During a meeting of the Women and Foreign Policy program, Coleman hosted Radha Muthiah, executive director of the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves; Gary Hattem, president of Deutsche Bank Americas Foundation; and Jonathan Cedar, chief executive officer and director of BioLite, for a discussion on how innovative solutions to replace open-fire cooking both save lives and promote economic growth and development, especially for women. The panelists emphasized that creating a global market for clean cookstoves can lead to financial and social gains and assessed the challenge of building a sustainable business model. Listen to the roundtable conversation »

Balancing the Dual Goals of Social Enterprise

CFR Term Member Benjamin Stone, director of strategy and general counsel at MicroCredit Enterprises and vice chairman of Indego Africa (IA), discusses the difficulty of simultaneously balancing the social mission and commercial drive of social enterprises, a tension that he calls "a healthy byproduct of the public-private hybrid approach." Drawing on his experiences with IA, a nonprofit that partners with female entrepreneurs in Rwanda, Stone shares his insights on how decisions in social enterprises must often be based on long-term goals, rather than short-term returns. Read the blog post on the Development Channel »

Breaking Down Gender Stereotypes in India

Pinaki Halder, the director for the state of West Bengal at Landesa, discusses his experiences with the Girls Project, a Landesa pilot program that teaches girls to grow and sell produce to pay for school supplies. Halder describes how the Girls Project's activities, including bimonthly meetings where the girls learn the dangers of child marriage and, in turn, relay the information to their parents and help break down stereotypes of girls being financial burdens to families. Reviewing results of a recent study demonstrating the success of the Girls Project, which now helps more than forty thousand girls, Halder explains how similar programs can ensure that girls stay in school longer and marry later. Read the blog post on the Development Channel »


Preventive Priorities Survey 2014

The Center for Preventive Action's annual Preventive Priorities Survey evaluates ongoing and potential conflicts based on their impact on U.S. interests and their likelihood of occurring in the coming year. Read the survey.


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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