Welcome to “Women Around the World: This Week,” a series that highlights noteworthy news related to women and U.S. foreign policy. This week’s post, from September 9 to September 17, was compiled by Valerie Wirtschafter and Dara Jackson-Garrett.
Debate continues over whether to open all combat positions in the Navy and Marine Corps to women
Last week, the United States Marine Corps released the results of a nine-month study concluding that all-male ground combat units performed better than mixed-gender units. Following the study’s release, U.S. Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus questioned its conclusions by noting, “It started out with a fairly large component of the men thinking this is not a good idea and women will never be able to do this. When you start out with that mindset you’re almost presupposing the outcome.” Secretary Mabus also announced on Monday—months before the deadline—that he would open all Navy and Marines positions to women. As Secretary Mabus noted, opening the doors to women is “not going to make [the Marines] any less fighting effective. In fact I think they will be a stronger force because a more diverse force is a stronger force.” Despite Secretary Mabus’s opposition, the Marines have indicated that they will likely seek to keep some combat jobs closed to women.
World Bank report finds significant legal and regulatory barriers hinder women’s economic opportunities
The World Bank recently published its fourth biennial report, “Women, Business and the Law 2016: Getting to Equal,” which provides insight into the legal and regulatory barriers to women’s economic participation. According to the report, women in 155 of 173 countries face gender-based barriers to economic opportunities. These obstacles are associated with low female secondary school attendance, low rates of female entrepreneurship, and a wider gender wage gap. However, the situation for women is improving: in the past two years, 65 economies—primarily in developing nations—achieved 94 reforms aimed at increasing women’s economic participation.
The surge of women and children heading to Europe from war-ravaged areas poses unique challenges
As the refugee crisis continues, concern for women and children who are braving the journey from war-ravaged regions to Europe continues to rise. Recent reports of women giving birth while attempting the journey and lack of access to critical health interventions highlight the complicated and unique circumstances facing refugee women. Like men, many women refugees are fleeing to Europe in hopes of a better future for themselves and their families. However, women frequently have the added challenge of caring for young children in tow. As governments determine how to respond to the ongoing crisis, some are warning that the unique needs of women and girls should not be overlooked.