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 9 to October 15, was compiled by Valerie Wirtschafter.
Women’s Rights in Afghanistan Undermined Following Taliban Attack in Kunduz
Since Ashraf Ghani became president of Afghanistan a little over a year ago, he has made a targeted effort to improve women’s rights, promoting women as ambassadors, governors, Supreme Court justices, and cabinet members. Despite these limited gains, however, women’s rights in Afghanistan remain at risk: this week, the Taliban waged a calculated campaign against women during their brief takeover of Kunduz. According to the New York Times, during the fifteen day period the Taliban occupied the provincial capital in Northern Afghanistan, they harassed women and destroyed offices and organizations that offered protection and support to survivors of gender-based violence. Many of those who worked for these organizations now refuse to return to Kunduz for fear of repeated violence. President Barack Obama also recently announced that he would consider delaying troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.
The United Nations Examines the Unfinished Agenda for Women in Peace and Security This week, the United Nations Security Council commemorated the fifteenth anniversary of resolution 1325 during an all-day open debate on women, peace, and security. The meeting ended with the unanimous adoption of UNSCR 2242, a resolution that seeks to improve the implementation of the women, peace, and security agenda and double the number of women involved in peacekeeping missions by 2020. The event was tied to the release of a UN study on the implementation of UNSCR 1325, which found that women’s participation and inclusion accelerates economic recovery, contributes to the conclusion of peace talks and the achievement of sustainable peace, and helps counter violent extremism. Despite the clear benefits offered by greater gender inclusion—most recently highlighted in a new report released by the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security—women’s representation in peace talks has remained stagnant since the initial adoption of UNSCR 1325 in 2000.
New International Center for Research on Women Study Finds Limited Impact of Conditional Cash Transfers on Child Marriage
Earlier this week, the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) released the findings from a long-anticipated study on the child marriage prevention program Apni Beti, Apna Dhan (ABAD). ABAD employs conditional cash transfers to incentivize families in the Indian state of Haryana to delay marriage of their daughters until at least the age of eighteen. From their research, ICRW found that the state-run program had a limited effect on delaying early marriage, and that financial incentives need to be combined with other approaches—such as interventions to promote social norm change, improve schooling, and promote economic opportunities—in order to be effective. These findings come on the heels of the International Day of the Girl Child, a United Nations day held annually on October 11 to raise awareness of gender inequality and the impact of violence and discrimination, including child marriage, on the empowerment of girls.