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 October 1 to October 8, was compiled by Dara Jackson-Garrett.
Evaluating Sweden’s “Feminist” Foreign Policy
When Margot Wallström, Sweden’s foreign minister, took office last year, she announced that Sweden would pursue a “feminist” foreign policy under her leadership, which she described as a policy to stand “against the systematic and global subordination of women.” The policy has drawn international attention and resulted in severed ties between Saudi Arabia and Sweden, after Wallström criticized the Saudi government for its dismal human rights record and poor treatment of women. Sweden’s government notes that one of the primary goals of the policy is to ensure “that women and girls can enjoy their fundamental human rights [which] is both a duty within the framework of our international commitments, and a prerequisite for Sweden’s broader foreign policy goals on development, democracy, peace and security.”
One Hundred Million Women to Receive Free Cell Phones by 2020
At the Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting last week, Tata Communications and MasterCard announced a plan to empower women through technology by providing 25,000 women around the world with free cell phones, with the goal of reaching 100 million by 2020. The program will launch in India, Nigeria, Indonesia, and Guatemala. Improving women’s access to the Internet and to mobile phones is a critical priority: across the developing world, an estimated 300 million fewer women than men own a cell phone, and 200 million fewer women are online. Closing this gender gap could improve economic opportunities for women, connect them with literacy programs, improve maternal health, and reduce poverty.
The Role of Women in the Self-Proclaimed Islamic State
Recent analysis confirms the serious role women play in sustaining terrorist organizations. Women are an important part of the extremist group’s infrastructure: they are used to recruit fighters, keep current fighters happy, and create the next generation of militants. According to the Islamic State’s ideology, a woman’s role is to marry and have children; they are forbidden from fighting. As the Post notes, they are “usually drawn by romantic notions of supporting revolutionaries and living in a state that exalts their religion, [but] can quickly find themselves part of an institutionalized, near-assembly-line system to provide fighters with wives, sex, and children.”