Women This Week: Biden Administration Releases New Strategy on Gender Equality
from Women Around the World and Women and Foreign Policy Program

Women This Week: Biden Administration Releases New Strategy on Gender Equality

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 covers October 23 to October 29. 
Jennifer Klein, co-chair of the White House Gender Policy Council, speaks to the media at the White House daily press briefing.
Jennifer Klein, co-chair of the White House Gender Policy Council, speaks to the media at the White House daily press briefing. Tom Brenner/REUTERS

Biden Administration Releases National Strategy on Gender Equity and Equality

Last week, the Biden administration released its new National Strategy on Gender Equity and Equality. The forty-two-page document identifies ten major domestic and foreign policy priorities, including improving economic security; preventing and responding to gender-based violence; and increasing access to health care. While Jennifer Klein, co-chair of the White House Gender Policy Council, acknowledged that the new strategy is aspirational, outside experts have raised questions about implementation and measurement. The Gender Policy Council, a Biden administration creation, is responsible for issuing an annual report assessing progress in meeting the strategy’s goals.  

Benin Parliament Votes to Legalize Abortion

Benin’s legislature voted last week to legalize abortion during the first twelve weeks of pregnancy. Abortion is currently legal in Benin only in cases of rape, incest, or life-threatening pregnancies. The vote marks the first time a West African country vote to legalize abortion. However, the legislation will become law only if Benin’s constitutional court ratifies it. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that between 4.7 percent and 13 percent of global maternal deaths are due to unsafe abortions, and rights groups maintain that criminalizing abortion only makes abortions more dangerous. While Benin’s legislature was voting, French and Irish officials moved to make contraception free for women aged twenty-five and below. France’s National Assembly added this provision to the 2022 social security budget, while Ireland’s Department of Health secured funding for free contraception in Ireland’s 2022 budget.

UN Special Rapporteur Condemns Belarus for Violating Women’s Human Rights

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Anaïs Marin, UN special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus, briefed the UN General Assembly on Monday on her findings [PDF] on Belarus’s violations of women’s rights. Marin specifically noted that Belarusian authorities have forcibly disappeared, tortured, or exiled women activists. They have been on the frontlines protesting President Aleksandr G. Lukashenko’s dubious victory in Belarus’s August 2020 presidential election, and have endured extensive repression by state security forces as a result. In addition to the government crackdown on political rights, Marin also highlighted gender stereotypes that harm women and girls, including members of the LGBTQ+ community.

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Women and Women's Rights