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Council on Foreign Relations Women and Foreign Policy Update
May 2012

Finding Market-Based Solutions

Entrepreneurship in Postconflict Zones

Small and medium-sized enterprises, including those owned by women, drive economic growth and create jobs, but they often struggle to find the necessary capital, markets, and business skills to grow and expand. In order to support entrepreneurial growth, and in turn, stability and development in postconflict countries, CFR Fellow Gayle Tzemach Lemmon recommends that governments, nonprofits, and corporations adopt comprehensive long-term approaches that increase access to resources and training while also encouraging information sharing of lessons learned and best practices. Read more »

Catalyzing Economic Growth

Elizabeth L. Littlefield, president and chief executive officer of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, speaks to a CFR audience about rethinking the nature of public-private participation and investment in international development. Listen to Her Remarks »


Technology Gender Gap Limits Global Growth

Ann Mei Chang, senior adviser for women and technology at the U.S. State Department, tells a CFR audience that "when it comes to the Internet, which is even a more powerful driver of economic growth and opportunity [than mobile phones], it looks like the gender gap is probably twice as large, probably 40 percent." Read the Transcript »

Using Mobile Phones to Break Down Business Barriers

New research by the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women reveals that micro-entrepreneurs represent 98 percent of entrepreneurial activity and account for an average 38 percent of GDP in Indonesia, Egypt, and Nigeria. This population of entrepreneurs includes an estimated thirty-two million women, and, as the foundation's chief executive officer Henriette Kolb writes, women represent a unique market opportunity for network operators and handset manufactures if they can design mobile value-added services to help women overcome business barriers. Read More on the CFR Blog Democracy in Development »

Why Women Matter for Peace, Stability, and Economic Growth

Afghan Women’s Rights and the U.S. Presidential Election

Lemmon speaks with MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell about why women's issues are becoming central in the upcoming U.S. presidential election and the importance of preserving Afghan women's rights as U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan intensifies. Watch the Video »

Women’s Rights Are a Stability Indicator

"For years, the international community has seen women as a 'pet project' rather than a stability indicator," argues Lemmon on PRI's The World, "but in communities where women are contributing, you see the benefits to families, to men, and to women . . . Women's rights are not a trade off for security, but rather something that benefits everyone." Listen to the Interview »

Saudi Arabia, Women, and Judicial Reform

"Dissent over women's status in society will remain at the heart of competing visions for [Saudi Arabia] for a long time to come," writes CFR Senior Fellow Isobel Coleman. Coleman argues that "with women making up the majority of college graduates, young generations connected in an unprecedented fashion to the Internet and social media, and the need for a more competitive economy to support its burgeoning population—it will become increasingly untenable for Saudi Arabia to straddle both the seventh century and the twenty-first century." Read More on Her Blog, Democracy and Development »

Brazil’s Strong Stance on Women’s Rights

CFR Senior Fellow Julia E. Sweig analyzes Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff's commitment to gender equality, recommending that "the next time some American foreign-policy pontificator berates President Rousseff for not taking a strong enough position on human rights, I suggest taking a look at the example Brazil is setting for girls and women worldwide." Read more »

What Leaving Afghanistan Will Cost

Lemmon argues that despite U.S. commitments to protect the human rights of all Afghans, including women, it remains a mystery as to who will ensure that whatever Afghan government takes power following the 2014 Afghan presidential election respects this promise. Read More on »



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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