Women in Foreign Policy

Tuesday, December 5, 2017
Fatou Bensouda

The Women in Foreign Policy symposium, held on December 5, 2017, features three panels of leading experts in discussion on global women’s issues. Panelists analyze the status of women worldwide and evaluate their contributions to governance, economic growth, and conflict prevention and resolution. The symposium commemorates the fifteenth anniversary of the Women and Foreign Policy program at the Council on Foreign Relations. Video and transcript from this event can be viewed below.  This symposium is made possible through the generous support of the Women and Foreign Policy Program Advisory Council.

Keynote Session: Fatou Bensouda on Global Women's Issues at the Crossroads--Assessing Progress

This is the keynote session of the Women in Foreign Policy symposium. 

Fatou Bensouda, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), discusses her career at the ICC, the obstacles she has faced in her profession, and the challenges that still exist in integrating women into high level foreign policy positions.

To commemorate the fifteenth anniversary of the Women and Foreign Policy program at the Council on Foreign Relations, this symposium convenes leading experts on global women’s issues to analyze the status of women worldwide and evaluate their contributions to governance, economic growth, and conflict prevention and resolution.

HAASS: Well, good morning. Welcome to the Council on Foreign Relations, and as I look around the room, just another typical morning at the Council on Foreign Relations, so—

I’m Richard Haass, and I just want to welcome each and every one of you to this symposium, and this is not just an everyday symposium. It’s the 15th anniversary of the CFR’s Women in Foreign Policy program. We’ve got a great set of speakers and a great set of panels, and you’re going to hear all about that in a moment, but first you’re going to hear from me.

When the Council launched this program in 2002—and I can’t take credit for it because I didn’t show up until 2003—it was done under the leadership of Isobel Coleman, who we’ll see here later today, and it was the first of its kind in the policy community. And when we started it and when we decided to keep it and grow it, it was based upon hard thinking: that elevating the status of women in society is not in any way, quote, unquote, “a soft issue,” nor is it exclusively a human rights issue, though as I see Mickey (sp) there—not that there’d be anything wrong with that—(laughter)—but it’s also an important national security topic.

And the status and role of women touches on a broad range of economic and security issues. There’s all sorts of evidence that women’s participation in the economy reduces poverty and grows GDP. Investment in health and education of girls and women is probably the single best thing you can do if you want to invest in economic growth and development. There’s a whole lot of studies showing if you have one dollar in your wallet and you want to contribute to development, invest it in girls’ literacy and that, over time, you will get more return on investment than any single other thing you might—you might do with that dollar.

And more recently, from here, there’s been some very interesting work done about the role and contributions that women make in conflict resolution and peacekeeping. I’m not talking simply about general sort of contributions—excuse me—but that there seems to be, at times, different outcomes.

So I think—and we think—it’s critically important that organizations such as this one focus on this set of issues, and today is just one way that we can do just that. And what we can do is showcase some of the work done by scholars here and elsewhere over the past 15 years.

Let me say one or two things about this organization. The Council on Foreign Relations was created in 1921, nearly a century ago, but women were not admitted as members for the first half century of this organization. The first woman was admitted as a member in 1970, literally 49 years after the Council was established.

Since that time, there has been a slow—but I would describe it as steady—progress. Women now make up roughly a quarter of the membership of the—of life members, and among the term members—those who become members for five years between the ages of 30 and 36—women now make up 40 percent of membership, so we’re not where we want to be, we’re not where we should be, but we’re making progress, and I think it augers well for the future. The arrows are finally pointing in the right direction.

The Council is known for its production and dissemination of ideas, but another thing we do is we also develop talent. One of the ways we develop talent is through our international affairs program. What this does is give people in government a year out, a kind of sabbatical, and it gives people who are not in government a year in.

We’ve had over the years some 600 people take advantage of this year. More than a quarter, close to 30 percent, have been women, including two named Condoleezza Rice and Samantha Power. This was their first opportunity and experience in government. And now we’ve reached a point where roughly half of our international affairs fellows in any given year are women. In our in-house think tank, the Studies Program, more than half—roughly 60 percent—of the staff, including fellows and research associates, now are women as well. So, again, we’ve got lots of work to do, but finally I’m glad to say we can point to some real progress.

This symposium today is one part of the work we’re doing with and by and on women here at the Council. And our goal—and we’re actually in something of a fundraising effort—is to make this a permanent part of our intellectual agenda here at this institution.

So let me now turn to the person who is better-positioned than any other to talk about the symposium. She’s the Douglas Dillon Senior Fellow here at the Council on Foreign Relations, and is—also directs the Program on Women and Foreign Policy, Rachel Vogelstein. (Applause.)

VOGELSTEIN: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to the Council’s 15th Anniversary Symposium on Women and Foreign Policy.

I want to begin by thanking Richard for his leadership and support for CFR’s Women and Foreign Policy Program. As he noted, in 2002 the Council became the first to establish a program to analyze how elevating the status of women and girls advances U.S. foreign policy objectives. And while I’m pleased that others have since followed suit, I’m proud that the Council paved the way.

I also want to thank the visionary leaders who helped to found and sustain this program as part of CFR’s Women and Foreign Policy Advisory Council. Many of these leaders are here in the room today, and we are grateful for their efforts and support.

Like Richard, I’m delighted to welcome Ambassador Isobel Coleman, our program’s founding director, back to CFR. The legacy that Isobel created is one that my colleagues and I are privileged to carry forward. And many of my esteemed colleagues will also be here with us today, including senior fellows Gayle Lemmon, Jamille Bigio, Catherine Powell and Carrie Bettinger-Lopez, each of whom produce scholarship that’s at the cutting edge of the field.

Over the past 15 years, as the recognition of the relationship between women’s advancement and stability has grown, so too has an unprecedented policy framework aimed at integrating global women’s issues into the fabric of U.S. foreign policy. During this time period, the United States created its first national action plan on women, peace and security and enacted legislation to codify its requirements into law.

Our government established an Office of Global Women’s Issues at the State Department and created the position of U.S. ambassador at large on women’s issues to elevate our work in this area.

Our foreign-assistance agency has, for the first time, required a gender analysis for all U.S. development programs. And our ambassadors to the United Nations led the adoption of multiple groundbreaking Security Council resolutions focused on women, security, and stability.

The past 15 years have also produced extraordinary improvements in the status of women and girls around the world. During this timeframe, a record number of countries have put laws prohibiting discrimination and violence against women on the books. The rate of maternal mortality, which previously stood at half a million women each year, has been cut in half. And the gender gap in primary schooling virtually closed on a global level, meaning that an entire generation of girls now has access to educational opportunities that their mothers and grandmothers didn’t enjoy.

And yet, despite these improvements and the important policy changes we’ve seen in the United States and around the world, serious gender gaps remain that undermine U.S. interests in prosperity and stability. Over the past two decades, women’s participation in the labor force has actually dropped from 57 to 55 percent globally, notwithstanding evidence showing that women’s economic participation fuels growth.

Female political participation remains stagnant, with women occupying only a quarter of parliamentary seats globally and serving as heads of state in only 18 out of 193 countries, despite the positive outcomes we know are associated with women’s leadership. And although research shows that women’s participation in peace processes makes peace agreements more likely to endure, women continue to be excluded from security processes, comprising only 8 percent of negotiators around the world.

Our symposium today affords an opportunity to take stock of the gains we’ve made and evaluate the gaps that remain as we chart an agenda on women and foreign policy over the next 15 years. And we have three dynamic sessions to help explore the way forward.

Our first will assess progress on women’s leadership, featuring Fatou Bensouda, the first female chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court. Our second session will address barriers that continue to inhibit women’s economic participation and evaluate reforms in the public and private sectors to spur progress. Our third session will assess efforts to advance women’s participation in conflict prevention and resolution, a timely discussion in the wake of the recent passage of the Women, Peace, and Security Act of 2017.

We have a stellar roster of panelists and moderators at the Council today, and we’re grateful to each of them for sharing their expertise with us.

As we get under way, I’d like to offer a special word of thanks to my CFR colleagues who have put together today’s event, including Stacey LaFollette, Katie Mudrick, Anna-Sophia Haub, and the Women and Foreign Policy Program staff.

And finally, I’d like to remind everyone that today’s conversation will be on the record.

With that, please join me in welcoming to the stage Fatou Bensouda and Debora Spar. Thank you very much. (Applause.)

SPAR: Good morning, everyone. I’m delighted to be here today to help get the morning started, and particularly delighted to be engaging in a conversation with Fatou Bensouda; as you just heard, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.

You have Fatou’s full biography in your materials, but let me just briefly remind you of some of the highlights of her career to date. Fatou was elected in 2011 and sworn in to her current position in 2012. She worked previously as a deputy prosecutor at the ICC; prior to that was legal adviser and trial attorney at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and served as the chief legal adviser to the president and cabinet of the Republic of Gambia.

She has served as a delegate to the U.N. Conference on Crime Prevention and the Organization of African Unity’s ministerial meetings on human rights. And she has a Master’s degree in international maritime law. So an incredibly accomplished and wonderful person to help get us launched this morning.

My name is Debora Spar. I am currently the president of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, and prior to that was the president of Barnard College, which, as you may know, is the all-women’s college uptown here.

So let me start here—and it was lovely to hear Rachel giving us some good news, but I’m going to start with some bad news on a dreary Tuesday morning.

So, Fatou, you and I are roughly the same age. I won’t reveal either of ours, but we’re roughly the same age. And I don’t know what it was like when you were growing up, obviously, in Gambia. But when I was growing up here in the United States in the 1960s, it was a time of great excitement about women’s rights. Feminism, in retrospect, was probably at its peak. And there was great anticipation that if girls were smart and worked hard and were ambitious, they could kind of achieve whatever they wanted. Folks from roughly that generation may recall that this was the era when Barbie briefly was an astronaut, somehow capturing the excitement on various fronts.

And yet here we find ourselves, 50 years later, and pick up the front page of any newspaper and the world doesn’t seem particularly hospitable to women right now. We are bombarded with cases of sexual harassment on a daily basis. The percentage of women in political participation in this country is actually declining, although current races could change that. And in your world, rape as a tool of war, we know, is rampant.

So let me ask you the unanswerable big question: What went wrong? (Laughter.) We’ll get more positive later, but let’s start there.

BENSOUDA: We’re still trying to figure out what went wrong. And it is unfortunate that until now women continue to face these problems. It’s the same with us back home. I know that women have made great strides to improve our condition. But we still have problems. We still have to get to where we should be. And this is important.

But, at least coming from Africa, coming from The Gambia, where I grew up, I also know that the setup that we have in terms of social setup that we have, and the belief that you—that the man has priority over you, that the boy has priority over the girls—even at the very young age, you know, going to school, most of the house chores, for instance, it’s girls who do it. When the boys have the opportunity to study, you have to do the chores before you go to study. And basically, how we are set up, what we are meant to believe, what we are led to believe, has not helped—has not helped.

But what I see has been happening over the years is that women are standing up for themselves. We are recognizing these disadvantages that we have growing up. And there are quite a few women in Africa today, in Gambia, where I can at least give concrete examples, that have, I would say, shattered the glass ceiling, because for me that’s what I always say. They put a glass ceiling over you, but it’s meant to be shattered. And women are taking that step and trying to be part of the community, and play their role in community. We have—we have that role. Unfortunately, if we do not do it by ourselves, if we do not go forward and try to find these opportunities and equip ourselves to have these opportunities, it would not go anywhere.

We are not yet there. Many changes have happened over time. We’re not yet there. But I believe that we can get there if we, as women, take the—take this forward ourselves. It is—it is important that we do that, because I don’t believe that any country, any government can develop to its full potential with only half its population. The women are the other half. So they need to be part of that. Part of that development.

SPAR: Yeah. So I want to pick up on a piece of that in a moment, but let me first just ask you to talk a bit about—a bit about Africa. Because—you know, if we just look at some of the data, there are a couple of countries in Africa where the percentage of women in the political leadership is actually much higher than it is in Europe and the United States. So, are there lessons from Africa, countries that you’re familiar with, that we might want to look at in more depth in the U.S. and Europe?

BENSOUDA: I believe so. Rwanda is an example that I can easily cite, where you have the participation in government. In parliament you have women – more women than men. It’s really one of the few countries, if not the only country—I’m not so sure—that in Africa, and maybe even in the world, where you have women’s participation at that level.

SPAR: I think it’s the highest level in the world.

BENSOUDA: Yes. It’s really one of the highest levels. And this is a lesson that we can learn. In the first and foremost we can—we will—we are able to see that women can be leaders and can be progressive leaders, and can actually just—I mean, they’re always thinking that as women they are so much—there are so many things that you can know, and it stops there. When it comes to leadership, there is so—sort of a certain level that you can get to, but it stops there.

But I believe that what you see in Rwanda—and I think there are many other African countries also—where in the recent past we have seen women presidents, women leaders coming up. And this is an example, to show that we can do it, and that these are lessons that can be learned. Even though we always view Africa as, you know, not—underdeveloped, not having these issues in mind. But this is an example to show that these issues are in our minds.

We also want to play that role. We also have the capacity—and this is—this is what is important—the capacity to play that role. And we have demonstrated that in Rwanda and in several other African countries. I recall that when I was serving my government, I was the—I served my government as minister of justice and attorney general. At the time, the auditor general was also a woman. The solicitor general was also a woman. I think there was another general. So they called us the generals—the women generals. (Laughter.)

But it’s also another example to show that when it comes to governance, when it comes to governing, women can play that role. And they have the capacity to be able to play that role. We really must reject this relegating us to the background, that we have to come in second after the so-called big positions and responsible ones have been taken by our men.

SPAR: Yeah, I think that there’s a question of sort of what the triggers or the catalyst might be. I think—my own view would be, in the United States, there’s plenty of women who think they have the capacity, the intelligence. But they feel stymied by force around them. So the question that always arises is: Do you need some kind of legal process? You know, do you need to mandate that 50 percent of legislators are women? Do you need to mandate that certain numbers of candidates are female? And I think Rwanda, it’s part of the law. I mean, do you think, based on your experience, has that worked, actually putting quotas or guidelines around female participation?

BENSOUDA: You know, I think—well, I believe it has worked for Rwanda. But I always think that perhaps we should not only say that—depend on quotas. This is still, in a way—I see it as not the meaning but—you know, we have to be able to take what we—what we deserve and not wait for it to be legislated for us to be able to assume that position, because it also stems, again, from the premise that you have to wait to be given before you can be someone. That is the only perspective that I really don’t like about it, even though sometimes you feel that it is necessary for us to be able to do that because when you look back in Africa, women play a big part in politics. But only to make the leaders.

We are the ones who are clapping for them. We—you know, when you really want to win a position back home, you get your—women constituency to be very strong. And we have that capacity to be able to vote you in, as a man. And I always say that that capacity to vote in the men, we, as women, can vote in ourselves. This is important. So we really should not continue to sit back and wait for laws or for quotas, or—it’s good. I’m not saying it’s not good. But I’m saying that in addition to that, we should also have that positive and proactive step towards really playing the role that we are supposed to play, that we deserve to play, in society.

SPAR: All right. So let me ask you the other sort of set of killer questions here that are totally unanswerable, but you can at least give them a shot.


SPAR: So I’m guessing that most people in this room, or else you wouldn’t be in this room, would firmly agree on the importance of getting more women in positions of power, women in legal positions, women in political positions, across the board. Does it really make a difference? So you were just mentioning that in Gambia that the women—the women generals were running, and your role now here in the ICC. What has been your sense? When women do have these positions in power, particularly in the foreign policy realm, do things operate differently? Or is it just nice to have the equity?

BENSOUDA: No, I believe things will operate differently. And I have—and we have had examples. In the field that I am in, as a prosecutor and also working in the area of sexual and gender-based crimes in conflict, I’ll just give you the example of at the ICTR and also the Akayesu judgement, which, as you know today, has really contributed a major position for the treatment for the—dealing with sexual and gender-based crimes at the international level. We had one of the judges in the Akayesu case, Navi Pillay. Navi Pillay was sitting as one of the judges.

And because of the questions that she asked, as a judge and as a woman—we all know in times of conflict unfortunately the brunt of the conflict, women and children bear it. And because of sitting there as a judge and asking these personal questions relating to sexual and gender-based crimes, prompted the prosecution to go back and to be able to try for these crimes. And we know that Akayesu is a landmark judgement when it comes to the – dealing with sexual and gender-based crimes, and charging rape as a crime against humanity, and even as genocide.

So this was critically important. And it today informs where we are. It’s one of those that contributed informing where we are at the international level, and also even at the ICC, because this has now been codified and we are able to charge as a war crime, as crimes against humanity. And I believe the Akayesu judgement has a lot to do with that. And this, as I said, it’s because—I believe, that it’s because a woman was sitting there and bringing that perspective to it.

The way that women are impacted when these crimes happen in conflict is different from what men suffer. And to be able to bring that perspective to the table is critically important. We have seen over the years that even when it comes to negotiations for peace, for conflict resolutions, that group of women, that, as I said, are differently impacted, are not at the table. We’re not talking about—they’re not brought to the negotiating table. And we see the cycle of violence. It happens over and over and over again. And I do believe that if women were able to have that chance, that opportunity to sit there and also to bring that perspective, this could make a difference. So I completely agree that when it comes to women leadership, women in positions of leadership can actually change things, because the perspective that we bring is completely different from our counterparts.

SPAR: And just congratulations on that work. I mean, that’s incredible work, and you’ve brought people to the table that needed to be, so—(applause).

BENSOUDA: Currently, as you know, with respect to the way my office is now dealing with the issues of sexual- and gender-based crimes, I really looked at the ICC statute and the great advances that have been made in addressing sexual and gender-based crimes. And I saw it as an opportunity—an opportunity to really enhance what we can do, because it’s unfortunate that after so many years we see that still, today, in conflict this continues to happen. The vulnerable groups are women and children. We’re seeing that. And looking at the statute, I said that what can we do, what can I do to enhance the investigations and prosecutions of these crimes, because I believe that if we—if it is properly investigated and prosecuted on those who perpetrate these crimes are held to account—I believe it can have a deterrent effect, at least others can learn from it.

And this is one of the things that really led me to having this policy on sexual- and gender-based crimes. It was one of the first policies I decided to publish since 2014. And really the main aim of the policy was, first, to be able to deal with this issue differently—differently in the sense that those who investigate and prosecute it should be well-equipped to deal with it.

Secondly, I also wanted to provide transparency on what the office is doing in treating the issues of sexual- and gender-based crimes. I felt that my team should be very well-equipped to be able to deal with it, because when you look at these kinds of crimes, you find that investigating them and prosecuting it is actually an extra challenge that investigators face. Already, investigating atrocity crimes of killings and pillage and murders is difficult to investigate at that level, but investigating sexual- and gender-based crimes particularly comes with its problems, with its challenges that are even different from others. So I believe it was important to have that kind of training in my team at every level. What I tried to do is to integrate the gender perspective in every stage of what we do, whether it’s preliminary examinations, it’s investigations, it’s prosecutions, appeals, even at reparations levels—which, as you know, we don’t do it, but usually the judges ask for our opinion. So all of this, for me, it was important that the office has to take a different stand towards addressing this.

And hopefully, also, we were saying that we know these crimes continue to happen even at the national level—you know, women unfortunately suffer violence within and outside of the house. So we were—I was also hoping that for those national jurisdictions that have interest in addressing this issue, but also look to the policy to get a thing or two from it, and to be able to address it more comprehensively, because this was a policy that really received wide consultation. I consulted with many experts outside of my office because I do have people who really have expertise in this area in my office. But outside of my office, we are consulted. I work very closely with my special adviser for sexual- and gender-based crimes, Bridget Inder. And we consulted academia. We consulted with states parties. We’ve consulted very widely.

And I remember I had set a deadline for myself to say that I wanted to launch this policy at a particular date, but I received overwhelming, really overwhelming support and comments and commentaries people sending in, so much so that I decided to move the deadline, because I wanted to also benefit from this expertise from outside. And I believe, in the end, we were able to come out with a very good and comprehensive policy on it, which the important part of it is the implement.

SPAR: Yeah.

BENSOUDA: And this is what the office is engaged in right now: implementing since last year. The trainings are ongoing. And I believe it has also contributed a lot in the way we have been charging in all the situations and cases that are going to trial at the moment. If you look at the case docket of the office now, I believe over the years—apart from the Al Mahdi case, which was charges on cultural property—we’ve charged—almost in every case where we could find evidence, we’ve charged for sexual- and gender-based crimes.

SPAR: Fascinating.

So let me just sort of, if I might, even broaden the scope a little bit. There’s a small but real number of countries in the world at the moment that are claiming to follow a feminist foreign policy. What does that mean, in your mind? And, you know, if more countries had feminism as part of their foreign policy, does that mean anything? Would it change the shape of diplomacy in any real ways?

BENSOUDA: One country that comes to mind, I believe, is Sweden.

SPAR: Yeah.

BENSOUDA: It’s one of those countries that really have changed their policy. So as you put it, it’s a more feminist policy than elsewhere. I believe it’s a good thing.

SPAR: But what is it? What does it mean?

BENSOUDA: Well, again, here they are—what I saw is that they’re—I cannot too much about it, but what I see is that they’re having a lot of laws and policies that are really geared towards encouraging and having more women at the helm than before. I mean, for Sweden, this has been there for some time, but they have been—in the past few years they took very concrete and proactive steps towards that, towards implementing that. And I do know that even the foreign secretary or the minister for foreign affairs, who has also served at the U.N., Margot Wallström, as the special representative for sexual- and gender-based crimes, I believe, is also very much ensuring that this is put in to practice in Sudan. I remember that so far. A couple of these—she’s organized a couple of seminars and conferences, which my office was invited to attend. So you see that it’s really being more proactive. It’s really going for it.

SPAR: I don’t mean to interrupt, but is it—I think you’ve spoken very eloquently about how having women involved in foreign policy will create inclusion around these issues of gender and gender-based violence, but would women handle a foreign policy issue like North Korea any differently? Is there a feminist policy towards North Korea, or is sort of the feminist part really just around issues of gender and gender-based violence?

BENSOUDA: I don’t know whether I should be talking about—(laughs)—

SPAR: Who better? (Laughter.) On North Korea, per se, but—

BENSOUDA: But let me just—yeah, let me just broadly say that we have to acknowledge that the perspective that women bring to different issues, including foreign policy, is different, is really different, and we should accept that. I believe that the more women are involved in these policies, in this decision-making, things could change. Maybe we are not probably at a place where we can concretely cite different examples, but I have talked about the—Akayesu and international criminal justice, and that contribution. Also, I do believe that now we have had several women in international criminal justice. I’m here thinking about Carla Del Ponte at the ICTY. There has also been Louise Arbour, also as prosecutor at the—at the ICTY, ICTR.

I just am convinced that the perspective that women bring to different issues—whether it is in IHL and international criminal justice, whether it is in foreign policy, whether it is even in domestic policy, I do believe that the perspective that women bring can change the dynamics. This is something that I’m convinced that really is a contribution that women can make.

SPAR: OK. So let me ask one final question before we open it up for broader participation. So I’m looking around this room, and this is a pretty good room, but there’s not a lot of men, right? (Laughter.) There seems to be—there’s kind of a token male at every table if I’m looking around a little—(laughter)—which is actually better than most—when you go to most rooms on women’s issues, it’s overwhelmingly women. So what is the role of men in trying to drive the agenda you’ve just described? Can women—should women at this point just do it ourselves? Or do we need to involve men in these conversations?

BENSOUDA: I believe we need to involve men. I’m strongly convinced that, inasmuch as we also have a role to play, I believe that men should also be sensitized if they are not already, because there are many men, I have to say that, who very—who are very, very sensitive to gender issues and who, I believe, are the ones that we can work with who can convince others, who can sensitize others to be able to also come onboard in this journey of empowering women. It’s important. We need to work together.

As I said at the beginning, you cannot move to development and a better place with just half of your population. So even where we women are fighting for what we really should have—deserve—I still believe that we need to involve our counterparts, and to do it together. It involves a lot of sensitization because of, unfortunately, most of the backgrounds we come from, they already have—most men already have that mindset that they’re supposed to be up there and we’re behind. It’s just the way most societies are. But in also these societies you find that there are women, there are men who have been raised differently, who have been sensitized to these issues, who are willing to work with their female counterparts to do things differently.

So when we—when we are moving forward in this march that we’re going forward, we should go forward with it together. We also have that road to include our male counterpart. I think they will—they also will contribute a lot to this.

But doing it alone can be quite challenging because I do not see it as fighting, you know, with one another. I see it as a partnership. And for them they need to recognize this, but we also need to understand that it is a partnership working together, you know, hand in hand, and moving forward to change unfortunately where we are now.

SPAR: And I think it’s—I agree with you entirely. And I think it’s one of the pieces of this conversation that gets lost so frequently, is we’ve had as women whatever it is now, 50, 60, 100 years of feminist thought, of thinking about new roles for women, new ways of raising girls, new ways of socializing people. We actually haven’t done that so much for men, and so I think we still default into raising boys kind of the way we’ve always raised boys—


SPAR: —and we haven’t created so many other models of what it means to be a good man. So I think everyone sort of defaults to man as breadwinner, male as fighter.


SPAR: And it’s fascinating to think about, if we really could work together, we need to shape male identities as we’re reshaping female.

BENSOUDA: Absolutely, absolutely. This is—it is important to take that step. Of course, we’re in this fight. It’s a fight that has taken ages. We’re getting there. We’re not yet there. But I believe that we can get there if we have along with us, going along and changing their mindset and thinking about things differently, for also as women, as you said, raising them in a different way, engaging with them in a different way. Because, unfortunately, also there are those women who maybe—I don’t know whether the term is right—the progressive women who keep fighting, but there are those women who unfortunately have accepted that this is just where I should stop. And this is—this is another part of the society that we also have to help together to sensitize and educate. So that this would be women standing together fully, but working with our male counterparts, our male colleagues to make a difference. I believe we will—we can get there. We can get there, but it really involves everybody being onboard.

SPAR: Yeah.

BENSOUDA: Yeah, everybody.

SPAR: Well, that’s a lovely point on which to stop on for a moment. And we will—we will turn now to questions from our members, and I will particularly make sure that we get a few male voices in the conversation. And I will just remind you, please, everything is on the—on the record. Put your hands up, and then please wait for the microphone to come to you, and then please state your name and affiliation, and questions end with a question mark.

Yes, ma’am?

Q: Thank you very much. That was quite inspiring. I’m Nan Keohane, Princeton University.

I wanted to go back to the question you began with, Debora: So what went wrong since the excitement of the ’60s and ’70s? And you’ve been given a very thoughtful answer, for which we are grateful, partly that there has in fact been a lot of progress—it didn’t all go wrong—and partly that there is perhaps a backlash or inertia from non-feminist and threatened men, and non-feminist and threatened women, and that the backlash is probably heavier than we expected.

But I want to suggest one more possibility and ask you both if you could say a word about it, which is that the agenda of second-wave feminism, in which I was an ardent participant, was flawed in a couple of ways. One, I think, is now generally recognized: We weren’t very inclusive. We didn’t include men. We weren’t very good at including women of different backgrounds, races, classes, nations, sexual preference.

But the other one that I want to pursue for a moment is we didn’t talk about power. You know, we sat cross-legged on the floor, and we didn’t want a leader to emerge because we were all supposed to be equal. But that’s a difficult way to make a movement, and it seems to me to make more progress women are going to have to be ready to talk about power. And I’d like to have your reaction.

SPAR: Please.

BENSOUDA: I believe it all comes to empowerment—empowerment and being in a position where your decisions and your actions can make a difference. This is very important. We have seen before that that was lacking. It’s still not there. As you’ve said, it’s still not there, this empowerment. And this is where we really need to also focus our attention to.

When I started, I talked about equipping ourselves. And when I—when I say that, is I do not believe in women being given leadership positions or—just because we have to fill a quota or just because women should also be there as much as men. I strongly believe that, as women, we need to, when I say, equip ourselves to have the skills. We have to have the skills. We have to have the opportunities to be educated. We have to be able to, when we sit in these positions, we’re sitting there not because we are women, but because we also have that experience, have that leadership, and are able to make decisions based on our experience, our qualifications, and our knowledge.

So I strongly encourage, I always say that those who are generations that are coming after us should also continue to prepare themselves, to equip themselves to go for those positions, to compete for those positions on grounds that they also have the ability, they have the knowledge, they have the experience to be able to do so.

And that empowering, sometimes, at least from where I come from, we have challenges to go there, we have challenges to do that. But it doesn’t mean you have to give up. Some of us are lucky, I would call it, to have come from homes where already the men recognize, or my father recognized that the education of women is as important as the education of men, so all the siblings were treated the same and we had that opportunity to be able to do it. But this is not what happens in most homes. I would not even just say in Africa, I think outside of Africa this also happens. So that gives us that disadvantage of equipping ourselves.

And that is what brings me back to the men being sensitized to realize the importance of, in this case, educating their girl child as much as their boy child, to give them that equal opportunity to move forward. So it’s all part of empowering.

And we can speak a lot about empowering because it’s in different aspects of life, whether it is economic or whether it is educational, and different issues. But it is really important to have that equipment, to be equipped to go forward with that leadership.

SPAR: And I think, if I could answer if briefly, Nan, as well. I think you’re exactly right, women need to embrace power and we need to acknowledge that power comes with hierarchies and structures and things that perhaps you can’t do when you’re sitting on the floor cross-legged.

And I think—and you’ve done this work at Princeton, and I hope people have seen this report. You know, at Princeton recently, as you all discovered, there were a lot of women students who didn’t want to take positions of power in things like student government. We need to make girls and women comfortable with power and hierarchy and being the boss, which means people aren’t going to like you. And how do we, you know, how do we unravel that?

I think the other thing just to throw out on the table, you know, if I were to fault second-wave feminists at all, I would also say there was a bit of a sort of a blurring of biology. You know, the fact that it’s not—women are not going to behave exactly like men because there are physiological differences. And I think when you’re starting to talk about gender-based violence and rape and these horrible things, but they are tied to the physiological differences.

BENSOUDA: Indeed, indeed.

SPAR: And I think by blurring those differences, we also lost very important conversations. But you all did a great job, so—(laughter)—we need to fight next.

Yes, right here in the front.

Q: Josephine Linden.

SPAR: I’m sorry, the woman in the red first, and then we’ll get to you. Yeah.

Q: OK, thank you.

SPAR: Oh, there you go.

Q: Great, thank you.

VOGENSTEIN: You should have seized that power moment perhaps. (Laughter.) All right.

Q: Josephine Linden. I had a question about empowerment.

SPAR: I’m sorry, your name and your affiliation, if you could?

Q: Josephine Linden, Linden Global Strategies. And I am the boss of my own firm.

SPAR: Yeah, we need a better mic for you, I think.

Q: We’ll try this again. Can everybody hear me?

SPAR: There we go. Thank you. Yes, thank you.

Q: OK. My name is Josephine Linden. I am the boss of my own firm, Linden Global Strategies.

And my question goes, again, about empowerment and really to deal with the proliferation we’re hearing right now about sexual harassment, which is clearly prevalent in so many different industries. We’re hearing about it in the states. Is it happening in other countries? Obviously, it is. We hear of situations in England and in France. How do you deal with that issue, particularly given your position and something close home to you?

BENSOUDA: I’m afraid it is unfortunate, but this is happening everywhere. It’s really happening everywhere. It’s a good thing that women are coming forward to denounce it, to talk about it publicly. But the majority of women who go through this in every society, you know, whether it is in Africa, whether it is here in America, in other parts of the world, do suffer that. It’s happening.

They have not yet, in other parts of the world, probably taken that step to publicly say it because, unfortunately, and I can just speak from where I come from, it is still taboo to talk about these things. It is still seen as you are at fault, the woman is at fault. And when that happens, when it is known that you have that kind of experience—and probably it may not even be your boss, it can even be your colleague—and when that happens and you probably want to talk about it publicly, you see the marginalization and you are the one who created the problem. And society does not help you, does not really help you. And to a large extent, this is also what is making people to be quiet about it and not talk about it. But I can tell you that it’s going on everywhere.

At the level of investigating and prosecuting these crimes, it’s also an area that we really need to think about. I mentioned briefly that there is this problem of having to have that extra training when you’re investigating and prosecuting these crimes, because in most of these conflicts it is very difficult to have women to come forward to say that this has happened because, again, as I said, when it happens, you are the one at fault. Most of the time your husband will even divorce you for having been raped in conflict. And many women prefer to keep quiet about it.

So sometimes we are not even able to get the actual numbers and the extent of the sexual and gender-based violence because maybe either it’s for reasons of society or background that you are not able to talk about it. Sometimes religion prevents you from even talking about that, because we have had situations in which we have to deal, for instance in Darfur, we have to deal with women who are Muslims and who cannot come forward to talk about it or who cannot—we cannot even talk to without the presence of a man. So those are some of the difficulties that you come at.

But I think there is hope. And I just wanted to highlight here the case of Jean-Pierre Bemba in the Central African Republic. This is one of the cases that we have handled in which the incidence of rapes and sexual violence exceeded the incidence of killings. It was so bad, it was so rampant, we decided to try Jean-Pierre Bemba as a commander. He was not the one. The evidence we had is not that he himself was there committing these crimes, committing the sexual violence, but the troops that were under him, that were unleashed on the Central African Republic society, were raping, committing violence, killings. That because he was the commander and he failed to prevent or punish those who were committing these crimes, we’ve charged him successfully with rapes as a commander. And he has been convicted by the International Criminal Court and has been sentenced to 18 years for those crimes as a commander. (Applause.)

And this is significant. This is significant. And it’s also something which I believe states can look to, to see that there is—there are possible ways of dealing with these issues. We cannot just throw our hands in the air and say, well, we cannot do anything about it. And also, I think it is an example to other commanders to know what their—what their limits are, and what they can be held responsible for, they can be held liable for.

So this, for me, is what we need to do. We really have to push it—push forward the envelope. And maybe this gives me another example of talking about another case that we’re—is current ongoing, the case of Bosco Ntaganda. I mentioned it briefly, yeah.

SPAR: Let’s keep it short so we have more questions.

BENSOUDA: Yeah. OK, I will—

SPAR: No, no. Just go. Go ahead.

BENSOUDA: Well, I wanted to mention Bosco Ntaganda because if you today look at IHL, international humanitarian law, you find that the protection that is given to women and girls, it’s towards the opposing side, that crime is being—sexual and gender-based violence is committed against the opposing camp, and then we can charge for those crimes. But what we did in Bosco Ntaganda is to, again, push the envelope, and say that those girls and women, and those who are subjected to sexual and gender-based crimes, within their own group, also deserve the protection of international humanitarian law. And we push that. We charge for that, because those girls and those women who are in the same group where they are used as sexual slaves, they are raped every day, they’re used in different forms even though they’re—firstly, it’s as soldiers.

So, when we charge that and the charges were brought before the ICC judges, and they confirmed the charges, they agreed with the office that this is a protection that they deserve. And this matter has gone to the appeals chamber. And the appeals chamber have also confirmed. The case is still on. Bosco Ntaganda’s case is still on. And we have—we are prosecuting these crimes. And if he were to be found guilty of these crimes, I believe that is also going to be a huge contribution to international humanitarian law.

SPAR: And I think, just very briefly, part of the—response to the other part of your question, I think strangely we’re seeing a parallel with what’s happening in the United States right now. Different sets of crimes, but there is clearly a moment right now where things that were accepted and pushed under the rug for years and years and years, are now being cast as crimes, bad things that shouldn’t have happened. Women are clearly becoming empowered to speak out about things. So it’s a different context, but a similar dynamic. And I think response ultimately is quite analogous. We need clarification of the law and we need due process around it, so that when claims are voiced they can be investigated. And then the perpetrators suffer a set of consequences that is legislated or put out there in rules and guidelines.

So it’s a deeply uncomfortable moment, but I am actually optimistic that by having these concerns voiced and by starting to put the right kind of due process around it, we will get to a healthier outcome. I think we have to seize advantage of this moment to put the laws and the guidelines and the precedents in place so that we can have the frequency of these things diminish dramatically. They have to.

Yes, please.

Q: Thank you. I’m Minky Worden from Human Rights Watch.

And thank you for mentioning the Central African Republic and the Congo cases. It’s very important. I’ve been at the Council for 20 years, and have seen an enormous amount of change in that time—the Women in Foreign Policy Program. But I’d also like to issue a caution. And that is that women in power can be just as repressive and abusive as men. (Applause.) And I’ll go ahead and say it, you know, Sheikh Hasina in Bangladesh. Sadly, Aung San Suu Kyi in Burma has presided—although the Tatmadaw, the Burmese military, are responsible for rapes and other terrible crimes, burning villagers out of their homes in Rakhine state.

What—my question actually takes the Central African Republic and Congo comments further, which is to say how do we get to deterrence? How do we—what—how can the message be sent to these troops, mostly men, that it is simply not acceptable to use rape as a war crime? It’s a great advance that we are now seeing these cases move forward, but it took years. And Bosco was free to roam around and terrorize for many years before he was grabbed. Thanks.

BENSOUDA: You’re very right that it’s taking years to get to these cases. But I believe that we’ve moved. We’re at a different—we’re at a different place. And what we really need to insist on is the deterrence aspect. You’ve talked about it. And accountability is a big part of that. People have to be held accountable for what they have done. I know for several years, for many times we tried to—we have tried to find a solution, especially in these conflicts, where most of the time the easier way to do is to negotiate for peace and to have golden exiles and amnesties for people to get them out of the way, and then business as usual. As long as people feel that they are not held responsible for what they have done, we will see this cycle. It will continue. But once they know that if these—if I commit these crimes I will be held accountable for these crimes, I think this is a good way of deterring, whether it is that person or people—persons who are looking at him and seeing this is actually a possibility. I believe this is one way of insisting on the accountability.

I just here want to give the example of Thomas Lubanga, which is the first case that ICC has tried. And Thomas Lubanga was charged for the enlisting and conscripting of children under the age of 15, and using them to participate in hostilities. Children under the age of 15 have no business to fight wars. But we see increasingly that this is happening. And ICC decided to put that case forward and to give this example. From at least what I have seen, is that the court was able to highlight the seriousness of this case. As I said, children don’t have business fighting wars that they have not created. But they’re used as young as eight years old to hold guns that are, most of the time, even bigger than them, and to fight. They don’t even understand the implications. So it was important for militia, as well as government, to understand that this is a war crime. This is a serious crime in which they could be held accountable. And this case was brought forward.

And today what I can say is—I mean, I cannot claim that it has stopped everybody from doing it. It’s still happening. But I think it has contributed a lot to raise that awareness. It has contributed to the fact that I remember the former SRSG for Children and Armed Conflict used it a lot to demobilize children. And in places where the ICC was not even that—like, if you talk about in Nepal, for instance. She gave the evidence that she was able to demobilize 3,000—over 3,000 children. So this is—the fact that the awareness was raised that this is a crime, because I think most of them sometimes don’t even think about whether it’s a crime or not. They’re busy trying to gain or to retain power. And they use these poor children to fight this war. So that alone, and in other parts, I believe there was some kind of empirical data. I don’t have it now in my hand. But I believe it has contributed to raising awareness in the DRC, but also outside of the DRC, in other states parties, as well as non-state parties to the ICC statute.

So accountability forms a big part of it. Of course, sensitization about this case is, again—this issue is very, very important for us. From my side, I believe that is—that is what—this is an area that we really need to look at and be prepared to make sure that those who are committing these crimes are held accountable for that.

SPAR: Yes, so around the side there, the white shirt? Yeah.

Q: Thank you. Hi, my name is Emma Stoskopf-Ehrlich. I’m with the Center for Reproductive Rights.

And I just wanted to interrogate a little bit this idea of vertical power as a vehicle to gender equality, and sort of, maybe as a way of looking at what—what hasn’t worked, and perhaps examining existing power structures and the idea that sort of a hierarchy is the way to get there. And so I’d love to hear sort of—more of a critical approach to sort of how we understand power and why we should simply just insert women into existing power dynamics, and assuming that that will inherently create gender equality. And if necessarily having women empowered translates on the ground always to a—improved lived conditions for women. So thank you.

SPAR: I’ll start while you think on that.


SPAR: And I think you—I think you’re gently raising a really crucial question here, and I think it was—the little bit of what I was getting at was what would a feminist foreign policy look like. Is it just women enacting the same policies, or is there something perhaps fundamentally different? And I think it’s—it’s deeply tempting to want to imagine a different kind of power structure, a more horizontal power structure, a more diffuse power structure.

You know, I think the tangling piece of that is we don’t have good precedent for that. It’s hard—I’m hard-pressed, unless you go really far back in history, to think of different kinds of power structures that—that—that could still serve a large and complex society. They may be out there. I just don’t know that we have very good models yet.

So being—just speaking for myself—being a realist at heart, I think my—my urgency would be let’s at least try and get more women into the existing power structures and then think about reforming them rather than try to imagine a new structure, create it, and populate it, when we don’t have a good vision of what that would look like. But if there’s good visions of that—of what an alternative might look like, I think—God knows we need to do things differently—we should certainly look at them. I just—I have a hard time personally coming up with what those might look like.

BENSOUDA: And I also don’t think that we should just be looking at it that women have to be in these positions, and then—and I come back to what I have said. It is women with the qualifications that need to be there.

SPAR: Yeah.

BENSOUDA: We have seen women, unfortunately, who have abused powers that have been given to them by acting maybe not exactly the same way as the men, but in a different way that does not really—it’s not a good example for us, as women.

I believe when we go to these positions, when we acquire these positions, and we bring our different perspective—or a novel perspective—to the positions that we acquire, it’s really to make a difference. It’s to make that difference to exhibit the leadership that we can have and to handle—handle that position that has been given in the way that it should, the way we should handle it, and not just to just pick women randomly. Women have to be up there, have to be up there, and then we—I think this is—for me this is not the idea. I strongly believe that a woman who occupies any leadership position should be deserving of that position by virtue of what you can bring to the table. This is what I—

SPAR: I think we have time for one more. Vishakha? Yes?

Q: Vishakha Desai, Columbia University, President Emerita, Asia Society.

I want to go back to this question of engendering a sense of power. Ultimately what you’ve talked about is that there are sort of two big issues that are out there. One is how do you prescribe policies, whether it’s quotas or whatever you have, and it’s the attitude—social attitudes—and how do those two come together.

And it seems to me that we’ve made a huge amount of difference in terms of where women have been in terms of women as subjects. It’s access to education, et cetera, et cetera. Where we have not made enough progress is in leadership, especially when it comes to foreign policy and international relations, except, again, when it’s around gender issues.

So it goes back to, Debora, what you were saying, and that is do we fit women as leaders in the existing structures or do we also think about the society that thinks about structures differently while we try to get into those positions. Just to give you one quick example, we know, for example, in India with the Panchayat when 33 percent women were designated—and Harvard Business School has now done the study that shows that the first time around everybody thought those women would behave more like the daughters, wives, sisters of men who put them in power, as one might say of Sheikh Hasina, or to some extent, even Aung San Suu Kyi.

However, when you had more women coming into those positions, the second time around they actually changed how they did business. So there is something about more women in more leadership position together that is different from sole women in these leadership positions.

So how do we work with our male colleagues to think about larger pools of women in position of power, whether it’s in the Senate, Congress, or in other leadership position that would actually change the attitude around the power structures themselves?

SPAR: I’ll just give a quick answer—and if any of you haven’t read this study, you should read the study of—that Vishakha was mentioning, I think some of the most interesting work out there. And I think what it reinforces—and there’s other data to support this—is the importance of having critical mass, that when you only have women representing 8 or 16 percent of a room or a power structure, they will always feel to some extent as the men in this room probably feel right now, that they are visible tokens—you have this with minorities as well—and that if they put their hand up, to extent they feel the obligation of representing the token male position in this room, the token female position in most other rooms.

Once you get to about 35 percent participation, everything shifts, and then you and I may disagree because neither of us feels like we have to represent all women.


SPAR: We’re—you know, we differ because—let’s be honest—women should have the same range of variation as men do. But we’ve got to somehow get to that tipping point, and I would agree—even though I posed the question to Fatou—I don’t think quotas work, particularly in this country because they raise all the issue you raised.

By the same token, nothing else is getting us—


SPAR: —beyond sort of the 16 percent cutoff right now, and until we get to that critical mass, you actually don’t get change.

BENSOUDA: I—just maybe one comment. You said about how do we change this. I strongly believe—and you’ve talked about this Debora, when we started—I strongly believe that we have to start from the houses, the smallest unit, how we raise our children, how we—and this applies to every society, I think it cuts across—how we see the role of girls at that very young age, how we see the role of girls and—vis-à-vis boys, in the offices, in the societies, in the countries, and finally, internationally. But that change has to take place at the very root—very grass root. It has to take place, and that responsibility is not only for us, as women. I believe that the men also have a role to play in changing that mindset from the very beginning, from the very—very, very young age, which I believe will translate in the end to society at large.

SPAR: And this is a wonderful point on which to end because this is actually something that every single person in this room can work on. So if we start with our own homes, we have some possibility of actually moving in the direction I think everyone agrees we want to go.

Thank you so much. This session is over. There is coffee outside, and come back at 10:00. (Applause.)

BENSOUDA: Thank you, Debora.

SPAR: Thank you.


Session II: The Status of Women in the Economy

This is the second session of the Women in Foreign Policy symposium. 

The connection between women’s economic empowerment has been proven to be critical to economic growth and stability, but the share of women in the labor force has stagnated for two decades and significant structural and cultural barriers continue to inhibit women’s participation in the economy. This session highlights the relationship between women and economic growth and propose policy reforms to spur economic progress by elevating women’s labor force participation around the world.

To commemorate the fifteenth anniversary of the Women and Foreign Policy program at the Council on Foreign Relations, this symposium convenes leading experts on global women’s issues to analyze the status of women worldwide and evaluate their contributions to governance, economic growth, and conflict prevention and resolution.

COLEMAN: Good morning, everyone. If you can take your seats, we will get started. I know it’s always hard to get back from a coffee break, but hopefully you can all come in and take your seats.

So good morning. I’m Isobel Coleman, and it is a great pleasure to be here. Thank you to Rachel Vogelstein and Gayle Lemmon for organizing this. It is with huge satisfaction that I sit here and see this wonderful crowd for this 15th anniversary symposium for a program that started 15 years ago, with the help of Jewelle Bickford and others. (Applause.)

And a real sincere thanks to Richard Haass, also, who’s in the back. I think to be fair, Richard, when you came to CFR, you had some skepticism. What is this Women in Foreign Policy Program? And according to Richard, who said this to me, he read a Foreign Affairs piece that I wrote called “The Payoff From Women’s Rights” back in 2004, and he said a lightbulb went off, and he said, ah, now I get it; this is actually really important stuff. And that is the topic that we’re going to be talking about this morning, which is “The Status of Women in the Economy,” but it could also be called “The Payoff From Women’s Rights,” talking about the role of women and their economic participation.

And we have a fantastic panel of people who are real experts on this subject, and have a great experience in both the public and private sectors. I’ll start with, on my immediate left, Heidi Crebo-Rediker, who’s an adjunct senior fellow here. She’s also the CEO of International Capital Strategies, and has served both in the public and private sectors over her long and distinguished career as an investment banker in Europe, as an advisor to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the Hill on economic issues, and then appointed to the State Department as the first chief economist to really help drive the whole idea of economic statecraft at the State Department under Secretary Clinton, with the idea of bringing much-needed economic analysis into policymaking. So thank you, Heidi, for being here.

We also have Tom Nides, who also has a very distinguished career in both the public and private sectors. He is the vice chairman of Morgan Stanley, and has had a long Wall Street career with Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse, First Boston, and other institutions. But has also worked at the State Department as deputy secretary of state for management, really the COO of the State Department, but I know he was also very heavily involved in policymaking there. And started his career on the Hill as an assistant to both the majority whip and the speaker, so he really knows the ins and outs of Washington and the global economy.

And then we have Lareina Yee, who’s a senior partner with McKinsey from the San Francisco office. And she gets a big shout-out for having just taken the redeye in and arriving, and looking terrific, no worse for wear on that. Lareina works on high-tech infrastructure and information services in the San Francisco office of McKinsey. But for our purposes here, she—we should also recognize that she has been driving McKinsey’s work on women in the workplace, and has actually launched an initiative several years ago, a big research initiative in conjunction with Sheryl Sandberg and the Lean In organization there on women in the workplace, and has some great data that she can share with us from that.

So thank you to all of our panelists for being here and sharing your experiences and wisdoms with us for this conversation.

So, Heidi, I think I’ll start with you. And maybe you can just reflect on the fact that governments seem to have finally gotten the importance of this topic. I remember when I wrote “The Payoff From Women’s Rights” in Foreign Affairs, it was making the case for why we had to invest in women. I think governments now understand that, generally. The question, then, is: How? And you’ve seen both government initiatives and multilateral initiatives, whether it’s the APEC, you know, forum or the G-20, the IMF, various institutions and networks and multilateral groupings have made commitments, signed up to increasing women’s workforce participation, women’s role in the economy. So clearly they get why it’s important. They’re setting some targets to do that. But what impact are they having? How robust are they in following through? How much are they prioritizing these initiatives? Or are they just sort of photo-op and feel-good things? Are they driving change at a governmental level?

CREBO-REDIKER: So I think where governments started to become more interested in this issue was when we started to characterize women’s labor force participation as a driver of growth. And somehow, when you—when you take it away from just being a human rights issue or a development issue—which there’s been a lot of work over the years—but when you really put it through the prism of growth, and the fact that with better data and better analysis over the past decade or so we can look at where women have entered the labor force and driven growth in ways that we, I think, found unexpected, we being the policy community.

So, you know, if you look at the U.S. just as an example, between 1970 and 2009 you had about 38 million women join the labor force in the United States alone, and you see on the back of that that the economy in the U.S. was about 25 percent bigger as a result. That was some of the initial work that McKinsey did.

When you look at where the investment’s gone, we’ve seen globally a very significant investment in women’s and girls’ education, such that you’ve really seen those education gaps in most of the world, both developing and developed, closed, and in a lot of places you have tertiary education women actually exceeding men. You have—so you have a huge investment, huge investment if you look at it as sort of an asset of highly-educated women—not in the STEM areas as much, but still, you know, highly-educated women. You’ve seen poverty rates come down. You’ve seen health improve. And yet, over the past—the past two decades, you’ve seen women’s participation globally flatline. So, you know, 50 percent of the world’s population, and yet it’s sort of stayed at 50 percent participation.

So sort of looking at, you know, how do we—how do we catalyze something that should be low-hanging fruit, which is getting more women who want to or need to participate in the labor force to actually do it? What are the barriers to that?

And I think the good news is we’ve come a long way in understanding. It’s leadership. It’s, you know, Christine Lagarde. It’s Abe in Japan putting it at the top of Abenomics, you know, to increase Japanese women’s participation as a—as a way to catalyze growth. It’s institutions like the OECD and the U.N. and the IMF—IMF in particular—looking to institutionalize women as a driver of growth. And getting very—you know, what is it? It’s tax policy. It’s budgeting policy. It’s the laws that constrain in many different countries women’s participation. They can’t get titling rights or open a bank account. What are the things that are actual constraints?

So we have this huge body of knowledge, and yet we haven’t really seen a lot of movement. The G-20 you referred to in Australia set a target of 25 percent increase in women in the labor force between now and 2025. I don’t know if a lot of governments around the world are actually looking at that metric and trying to drive policy changes. There have been some countries that have—that have increased family leave policies or have invested in better childcare. We know that there are—we know from all of this analysis that there are certain things that can actually change the dynamic, and yet we haven’t really seen a lot of countries actually take those next steps.

COLEMAN: So, Lareina, maybe I can turn to you, because McKinsey has done an enormous amount of work on this topic, and actually came up with the much-quoted figure of $12 trillion that could be generated in the global GDP if the gender discrepancies between men and women were reduced, and particularly on labor force participation rates.

YEE: Absolutely. And labor force participation, I agree with you, is a great way to start, because if you look at over 95 countries globally, that participation rate varies from 17 percent to 41 percent. So, without even doing any more math or fancy analytics, that doesn’t sound equal. And when I think about equal, if you take a look at women and men able to participate in the global economy, women comprise 50 percent. And so there is a huge gap in that participation, and that the value of it.

And I do think, much as you said, the reframing of a social problem to an economic opportunity is a really important thing, because in some ways what I notice when I talk to business leaders and political leaders is that it changes your reaction from I should do something because it’s the right thing to do, to I should do something because it’s right and because it’s economically beneficial and every single person will benefit from that.

So when you take the global participation landscape and then you say what does that look like if I shift that to the corporate sector, that same business case advantage exists as well. So, in research that we’re publishing in January, just a month away, one of the things we have looked at is what is the value of women participating the profitability of companies? And our global research now shows us that the EBIT margin, or the profitability advantage, is 22 percent for companies that have a gender-diversified management team. So you start putting all these big numbers together, and sometimes I just like to simplify the math. There is a lot of value in having women at the table, especially in leadership positions.

But when we look at the corporate sector—and this is the—kind of it’s similar to the participation globally—we see that we in the U.S. graduate 57 percent women from our colleges. From Barnard, where Debora was, all the colleges in the U.S. And we start the workforce at 41 percent participation in the corporate sector, and that dwindles, percentages by percentages, each stage. So when we look at top teams in the U.S., we’re at 17 percent women represented amongst an incredibly educated and capable population.

And so the thing is is that the business case or the economic case is clearly not enough. And I think that’s actually a really good jump-off for some of the things we’re going to talk about today.

COLEMAN: Great, thank you.

So, Tom, as vice chair of Morgan Stanley, you are a senior manager in a company, and you’re advising a lot of big multinational companies. How do—how do you talk about this issue with—both internally and with clients? And picking up on Lareina’s point that companies with more diversity actually do better.

NIDES: Well, first of all, thank you for having me on the panel. I actually had the opportunity—Heidi and I worked together at the State Department, and I was honored to have her come work with us, and then she became the first chief economist of the State Department. And this is a prime example of what it takes to have someone who happens to also be a woman to basically take a job that didn’t exist and make it a really important job, and force all of us to think about economics and statecraft in a way that put that on the map. And I was proud to work with her and with Secretary Clinton. So I have a strong—you’re pushing on a big open door for me vis-à-vis this issue.

Listen, as the McKinsey report—we had the same studies done. Guess what? You have more women at the table and you have more programs that affect different populations equally, you actually make more money. This is not particularly complicated, right? If our clients and customers are diverse, and if you have a bunch of people around the table who look like me, it’s very hard to be able to communicate as you think about not only products you’re selling, but deals you’re doing in an effective way.

So we have—you know, we have studied both the technology companies, who quite frankly are even behind some of the manufacturing companies vis-à-vis numbers of women on boards. You know, I was looking at some statistics before I got here. As you know, labor—labor participation has basically been flat-lined for women over the last 15 years. It’s about 50 percent as pointed out to you.

The problem here is the growth among the C-suite is at—I think at CEOs and Fortune 500 companies is about 5—5.2 percent approximately. At this rate, it will be 50 years from now by the time women are equally proportioned at the C-suite, and the reality of this—if you want to get things done, it actually matters who is in the room. And a guy who has been fortunate enough to be around all of this, it happens to be true. And I think, you know, the numbers of men and women on boards are important, the numbers of C-suites are important, and it is about making money. This is not about is this the right—of course it’s the right fit. But that doesn’t move the needle. What moves the needle is is when McKinsey does a report and Morgan Stanley does a report and shows that the companies who have either diverse boards and senior management that look like the customers, they actually perform better. So this has become—I think has been driven into people’s minds enough to understand the value proposition.

We—data matters, OK? Numbers matter. People—we track everything at our firm, right, and this is an area where you always get pushback. Are you suggesting—you’re talking about quotas? No, no. We’re tracking this as we track everything else. How many women do we have in pipeline? How many women do we have in senior management? How many women do we have on our board? What is—how do we project to our customers and clients? And for our perspective, the ROE numbers speak for themselves, so that is how we kind of address it, and it isn’t anything more about how do we feel about it—no one cares about our feelings. What they care about is how do they make more money, how do their shareholders feel about the companies in which they are invested in.

So it’s a—quite frankly, it’s been a business case, it’s been a passion of mine for a long time just because the nature of the—how we’ve worked in a very diverse—both business and in government, and quite frankly, the government is as bad if not worse than many corporations.

I mean, Heidi and I worked at the State Department which—I love everyone at the State Department, but make no mistake, the people who get to the top of the State Department—not the secretary, luckily—but those who are ambassador ranked, it’s abysmal as a number or percentage of women who should be at the ambassador ranks. As someone who was part of the deputy’s committee who selected the ambassadors, it was a passion of mine to drive more women into the senior ranks of the foreign service—really important because it drives everything else down the processing. If there are women at the top of the pyramid, it helps drive everything else up.

COLEMAN: Thank you.


CREBO-REDIKER: Can I just touch—


CREBO-REDIKER: —on something that was mentioned to underscore the importance? You mentioned data and you mentioned data. The—the impetus for—on the macro side—a lot of the analysis that—that has been done in the past decade is really—the OECD started to collect very—very detailed data on 100-plus countries, and based on the data that they collected, they were able to do the projections of what an increase in women in the labor force would mean in terms of increase in GDP.

And then the IMF took that data, and McKinsey took that data, and Goldman took that—everybody took the data and took another slice at it, but a lot of that data is now old. It’s not being constantly updated, so if that investment is not made on the public side in the institutions that are actually, you know, putting together the data that everybody uses, then you—then you don’t have anything to measure over time.

The IMF has taken a big lead in—in pushing not only for data and analytics, but on the good news side, they—because all the countries are kind of—it’s treaty bound—it’s actually—it’s like a treaty-bound organization. They have mainstreamed a lot of their—their work on gender and the economy, and inequality, but also particularly women in the labor force. They’ve included it recently in some of their—their lending programs, for example, to Egypt. So if you mainstream so that you’re tracking—you’re tracking and requiring countries to actually produce data and now they’re doing—now they have 27 countries that they’ve done what—their annual checkup, which is in Article IV, of what’s happening in the economy. If you are bound to actually produce that kind of data, and those kind of lending programs are linked to—to better childcare, safer transportation, real access to job opportunity for women, that’s where I think we’re at early stages of moving the needle, but I would put that totally in the good news category.

COLEMAN: Tom mentioned the Q word, the dirty Q word of quotas, and I just wonder what each of you think because we have an aversion to quotas in the United States, but Europe actually embraces quotas in a lot of different ways, and governments around the world have used quotas both in the corporate world, but also in the political world to increase political participation of women.

And I actually remember I was in a meeting in Yemen, of all places, talking with all these women who were running for office there—this is some years ago—and Helen Clark was there. And the issue of quotas came up, and they said, oh, we don’t want quotas, and Helen, who had been elected head of state in New Zealand, said, oh, ladies, if you can get a quota, take a quota!

So her reaction was interesting to me, too. And I’m just curious on—Heidi, maybe you can start, and just how—when you are talking about moving the needle, and you’re talking about the G-20, and the OECD, and the IMF, and all these things, do quotas ever come up, and how are they viewed?

CREBO-REDIKER: Sure. They certainly come up. I think it varies from country to country in terms of what the appetite is for taking on quotas and actually setting targets. And so I think that there is use in both of those—you know, that comes, you know, to the fore when you are talking about getting women on corporate boards, when you are talking—particularly in Europe right now there are targets and there are quotas, and the quotas are clearly more effective. I think that’s sort of one of the lessons. But I don’t know if it’s culturally, socially and politically something that every country out there can—can do.

YEE: I mean, I’d love to pull together the targets and the data because—so one thing is people talk and they start with the Q word—quotas—and then that takes you a very specific direction in the conversation. But quotas aren’t the only ways to actually create measurements, and so what you see in corporate America is quite a lot more use of targets.

And what—and there are lots of types of targets, but at the very least, saying this is what better looks like this year, next year and later. And if you don’t have a specific goal, how will you know if you are actually making progress? And so an interesting thing is that 90 percent of CEOs in our benchmarking across—which is a very consistent set of kind of Fortune 1000 companies, say that they would put gender diversity or female representation in business as a top 10 business priority for them. That’s great.

When we ask their employees, do you believe that your company is committed, and do you think your company has a credible plan, men and women—men and women—less than 50 percent of them believe that that was true.

So one more thing. Companies that have set targets, that belief gap is lower, and they are performing relatively better. Now when you say relatively better, it doesn’t mean that they have 50 percent women in the C-suite. It means that there are percentages differences—you know, 5, 6 percent differences in their relative performance to everybody else. But if you think about a company that employs 70,000 people, I’d rather work at the company and be a leader of the company that has 5 percent more women in every single rank at that company.

And so setting targets is really—can be a really powerful tool, and then you can decide, as a team or as an organization, how you want to, kind of—how you want to put more, sort of, layering to that? Do you want to tie that to compensation? Do you want to—how often do you want to show accountability? How transparent do you want to be?

But the very first step is to say what would success look like, and my advice for companies is to set realistic targets. So the worst thing that you can do is say, oh, well, in three years we’re going to hit 50 percent at the C-Suite and the SVP layer because if you are only at 20 percent, everyone knows that’s mathematically impossible. So set realistic goals and move towards them.

NIDES: So I’ve spent a lot of time on this because I find it—I find it kind of an interesting topic.

You are what you track, I used to tell everyone, right? So we track everything, right? And, you know, I work at a company that’s very numerical, and you are what you track. And the numbers don’t lie; either you have it or you don’t have it, and if you don’t have it, you’ve got to figure out how you’re going to get there.

I find this whole issue around quotas a little bit of a copout because what—really what they’re saying is you want to promote someone who’s not ready to be promoted, which is kind of the backhand way to say it. Because that’s when we’re sitting around the room and we’re promoting people, they’re all, like, oh, well, we don’t really want to promote, you know, Heidi because she’s—you know, I know she’s a woman, but she’s really not ready. (Laughter.) I’ve been—I have been in thousands of promotion meetings in my career, OK? We never say this about white guys, OK? (Laughter, applause.) We never sit around the room—no, I mean, I don’t mean to be pandering to the audience here. But I—but I do sit in a thousand rooms where we say, God, you know, Tom, you know, I just don’t—I don’t—we shouldn’t probably overpromote him, because I’m afraid he may fail. OK, we fail all the time, OK? So I think there’s a little bit of a sense of this has become a little bit of a cop out. And it’s getting better, but it’s a little bit of a cop out in the world of promotions. And I think we should be realistic about that.

You can’t promote someone just because of—if they happen to be an African-American, they’re a woman, or whatever they are. But we do need—we need to track it and you need to make sure you set up the right systems. The problem we have in corporate America, in my humble view, is not—we can—we can hire just about anyone, right? Keeping them is another issue, OK? Retaining talent is a real issue, especially around women in the workforce, and providing them the environments and providing them the opportunity to grow, in my view, is the biggest struggle that we’re having.

So I am a big believer in I don’t really care what you call it—it can be targets, it can be quotas, it can be, you know, you’re just not going to get paid if your workforce doesn’t look like what we’re telling you to be paid, is what we tell our managers. So you can decide whatever way you want to get there, you better have a workforce that looks like what we believe your workforce should look like. So maybe not totally politically correct as it relates to this, but it is a realistic issue for us at our firm, and certainly I think is for many corporations, that you need to have very clear distinctions between what’s acceptable and what isn’t acceptable vis-à-vis the numbers across the organization.

COLEMAN: Thanks, Tom. And in terms of retaining talent, I know that you’ve been a big champion of paid family leave. Do you want to just spend a minute on that issue?

NIDES: Yeah, actually, it’s funny, because everything comes full circle. I was on—I used to work on the Hill, as you pointed out. And we did—I was part—I worked for the speaker of the House and the—that’s when the Democrats were in charge. It was a long time ago, in the early—the Stone Age. Many of you weren’t born then. But we were—we were actually in charge of both the House and Senate at one point. And when we did this, we did the Family and Medical Leave Act. For those of you who remember, that was really controversial at the time, because the—again, a lot of my friends at the Chamber and NFIB and all the other business organizations said: It’s going to kill corporate America. If you are allowing people to take three months off, that will be a devastation to successful economic growth in small businesses and big companies. And that was, as you know, two decades ago.

They said to us at the time, and if you do that—if it passes, you know what’s going to happen? All the organizations are going to want to get paid family medical leave. And they were right. Twenty-five years later, guess what? There’s a big movement in states and on the national to have paid family medical leave because, guess what, you can give people benefits but if you don’t’ give them any money who can take it? Who can afford to take two months or three months off to be with your newborn or a sick parent when you get no cash? And so there has been movement. In California it’s been passed and three or four other states, New Jersey law, Connecticut, where they are in fact putting a paid medical leave process in which you get some amount of money, not your full compensation, but some money.

So our view of this at Morgan Stanley is—and, again, we’re different than most companies. We’re rich—don’t—I mean, don’t quote me on that. (Laughter.) But we’re well—we’re not poor. And we have four months of paid medical leave, OK? And we have paternity leave. We are not like most companies. I accept that. But doing something around the edges as a federal program I think is worthy. I think at the end of the day, women in the workforce—we’ve been lucky—and I have a working wife who’s worked from the moment I’ve met her. And we have been fortunate, because she probably doesn’t need to work. We probably could get along if she doesn’t. But she has. And we’ve been lucky that we’ve had money to pay for help.

We’re the fortunate people, OK? Most are not as fortunate. Most women who work have to work, OK. It’s not because they’re doing it for kicks and giggles. And providing them some opportunity—even for Morgan Stanley—to give them the feeling of there’s a program. We then have an issue with us is to make sure that the women feel good about taking it. So if you offer them a program, but you are shamed—not shamed—but you’re feeling like, oh, you really do have to get back in a month because if you don’t you’re going to get off the fast track. So we’ve created an environment that we really want people to insist upon—not insist—encourage them to take it to set a role model.

So I’m a big believer in this. I’ve been really involved in the movement. It’s important, because I do think it all gets back to the bottom line. I think it makes more successful and it’s good for our business and society.

YEE: So I was just going to highlight a couple things that you mentioned that I think are incredibly important. So, one, is that it’s family leave. So it’s both for men and women. It’s paid. And the third one of the cultural shift, which is that when we asked men and women why you’re not taking advantage of the flexibility programs—paid leave, family leave being one, and then a whole slew of other programs and policies that good companies like Morgan Stanley and others offer, the number-one reason was fear of professional risk that they were going to take. And that’s a luxury if you’re not worried about the economics, if its paid.

So what’s really interesting is that you can offer it, then you can have good policy, you can benchmark yourself to the number of weeks that you should have, which is a rising bar in a good way. I think we’re starting to see 16, 20 weeks becoming a new norm. We see eight weeks for men. So you can start to see that. But you also have to drive the behavior change. So I’m in the tech sector, so obviously—(laughs)—I’m just looking at all sorts of social media things all the time. And I notice that Zuckerberg posted, I think, last week that he is going to be taking a couple months off, because they’re having another child.

And the reason why I mention this is because the role modeling of a powerful man taking leave and posting a picture of himself with his daughter is incredibly important, because what it says to people in the valley and what it says to people at Facebook is if the CEO, who has a really big job, can take family leave, I can take it too. And if people actually take it, then the value that it is supposed to deliver can actually be achieved. People can take a breath. People can actually connect.

It’s funny, when we introduced paid leave for our male colleagues, I thought all the females when we changed the number of weeks to substantially increase them would write notes, because I lead our North American women’s program and all of our initiatives. And I actually got more notes from men. And the notes were things like: Here is a picture of me and my baby. I figured it out. We’re a dual career couple, which you’re seeing more and more in Millennials. My wife and I figured out how to maximize our time with our newborn. And I realized actually how hard it is to juggle and what it takes. And it actually reset the norms of our household. So that person, that couple is going to bring that back to their corporate setting. And they’re going to role model something very, very different for the entry-level people coming up through the ranks.

CREBO-REDIKER: But just to put it in perspective, going back to sort of—if you go to those OECD charts, we are the only country in the OECD that doesn’t have paid family leave. So sort of the chart goes with some, you know, countries in, you know, Sweden and the Scandis are, you know, always at the top over here. And then it kind of goes down through various European countries, other OECD members. And then there’s the U.S. here. And it’s nothing. So—

YEE: It’s an opt-in. It’s an opt-in system.

CREBO-REDIKER: So it’s good to have a little perspective coming into this topic.

COLEMAN: OK, I’m going to turn to questions from all of our members. There are a whole bunch of questions we didn’t get to. I hope that somebody will ask about the whole sexual harassment—(laughter)—shenanigans that are going on, and ask our panelists around that, in particularly Lareina has some great data on that too. But we’ll turn to you. And we’ll start with Lauren in the back.

Q: Thanks, Isobel. I’m Lauren Leader-Chivee. I’m the CEO of All In Together and an executive advisor at Oliver Wyman. I spend my entire career working on these issues.

One thing that did not come up in the conversation, which I think—you know, when you look at the OECD, and you look at the countries in the world who have the highest labor force participation, have the greatest gender equity, there’s a very glaring dimension which is very high political participation of women in those economies. And in all the conversations that we wind up having about the workforce in the U.S., and about gender equity and the Fortune 500, we almost never make that connect. We almost never talk about it. And we never draw the line between political participation and women’s gender equity in our economy, labor force participation, et cetera.

So I know all three—well, two of three, I think, have crossed those lines in your careers. And I know, Tom, you talked about the importance of paid leave as just one example of how we drive greater labor force participation. Only 15 percent of Americans actually have any paid leave, even with, you know, great firms like Silicon Valley, et cetera. Most Americans don’t work for those.

So if you guys could talk a little bit about what you’d like to see happen in terms of just that—a deeper connection between political participation, economic growth, gender equity. I think it also touches the harassment topic. So I don’t see them as separate, but I feel like the national conversation has completely divorced those. And in the U.K. and other places where they’ve made dramatic progress, even without quotas, it was because of public pressure from, you know, a threat of legislation, et cetera. So if you guys could talk about that, I’d appreciate it.

NIDES: I’ll head it off. I mean, we could have done a lot if Hillary Clinton had become president. (Laughter.) I know I’m not supposed to say that, but just hypothetically, that could probably move the dial a little bit more effectively. Hopefully that’ll change at some point. But I think—I think the real question for all of us is accountability. So—and I—and I think, from both—both on my left and my right, the question around holding people accountable—we are accountable to our shareholders, right? We’re accountable to activist investors. We’re accountable to our employees. Accountability drives behaviors.

When our shareholders—our biggest shareholders believe that we are not performing at the level we’re performing at, we have to change or the management will be gone, right? It’s not very complicated. On these particular issues, holding corporations and, to some extent, governments—and Heidi can speak, you know, greatly about that topic—that’s the difference between success and failure. So I think we spend a lot of time on that as firm, trying to get ahead of the—ahead of being put on the front burner, and trying to address those issues quickly. But make no mistake, there is a sense of what are—what people who are investing with us want and expect. And if we can make the business case that more women and more diversity in our C-suite, on our board, in our senior management will create a return on equity that makes some sense, then we’re ahead of the game.

YEE: So just as also a different thing that you’re raising. So there is the business benefits. But there is also a participation of women more broadly. And that’s a systems question. And I don’t think it’s just the private sector and the government. You’d also have to look at academia. I’m pretty sure the percentage of women with tenure is not where we want it to be. You’d have to look at education. So I think if we looked at the entirety of the economy and you split it into—including your political leadership—if you split it into these different segments, you’d find that women are underrepresented in each and every one. So if the simple question is should we be making progress across all of those? Absolutely. Are they related? At the most basic level, even before you put economics on it, it’s the most simple thing of being able to look around the society economy and business that you participate in and see yourself as a potential leader of that.

So, I mean, absolutely. I think we did focus on business, because I think two of us are in the business sector. And I do think with private companies, you have to ask: Why can’t they be leading this change more assertively?

CREBO-REDIKER: So you’re absolutely right. And there are—for a lot of the multilateral organizations that are focused on this issue, they look at—they look at participation, levels of education, political as well as economic. But the reason why I think it’s important to kind of bring it back to that prism of growth, at least for policymakers, is because then you get into those parts of decisionmakers and governments in the ministries of finance or the ministries of economy, where they actually can change policy—tax and budgeting policy to be more sensitive to how you can actually enable more women to get into the—into the workforce. And so I—you know, there’s certainly a connection between political participation and participation in the economy. But you can actually—there’s so much work that’s been done on how you can actually just, you know, catalyze that amount of growth, just from some of the simple policy changes that you can make. And you need to just get into those right people in every country in the world, and make sure that those changes happen.

COLEMAN: Right here. Masuda.

Q: Thank you, Isobel. Masuda Sultan, Insight Group.

Picking up on this issue of the political empowerment linked with the economic empowerment, in developing countries what I’ve seen is it seems to me a little bit easier with quotas to effect the political empowerment, especially in a country that’s coming out of conflict, for example. But the economic piece is something I see a lot of countries still struggling with. And it’s not such a quick fix, if you will. Are there things that can be done—you know, besides sort of longer-term policies about legislating women’s inheritance, you know, rights and things like that, are there sort of quick fixes in the economic sector that can be employed, similar to what you can do in the political sector with quotas?

CREBO-REDIKER: So one of my favorite—one of my favorite stories is the story around legal changes. And the World Bank has done a lot of work on what the legal barriers are. Changing legal barriers—there are cultural and social issues around why laws are the way they are. But if you change them, it doesn’t cost anything. I mean, you can allow both spouses—both, you know, men and women to own property, to be able to petition a court, to be able to open a bank account, or do a whole variety of things in an economy that a lot of emerging markets just don’t.

That’s changing very quickly. But you can now take those legal barriers, and when those barriers have changed in a whole range of countries around the world, that you have seen 5 percent bumps over five years. If you have constitutional equality between genders in the five years that follows, you get a 5 percent bump in women in the labor force.

And so there’s sort of—if we’re looking at quick fixes, those are the ones that are—you know, now have been tracked over time. They’re getting better. But there’s a lot you can do with that in terms of looking at accountability and how those legal changes can actually impact women’s participation.

COLEMAN: Right here.

Q: Hi. Tara Hariharan, NWI.

On the specific issue of U.S. female labor participation, I was just thinking about sectoral implications going forward; you know, some where it’s more promising and some where it’s not quite. Specifically, what came to mind, for instance, is the health-care-services situation is very promising, because there’s already fairly high female participation, and we will have a great need demographically for health care going forward.

But what are sectors where you think need improvement? For instance, I’m thinking of tech to a certain extent; Lareina especially because of the gap.

NIDES: Me too.

YEE: I feel like there’s a—

NIDES: I’m thinking of tech too, by the way.

YEE: —big bull’s eye headed my way. So I’m going to challenge that the health-care sector is doing all that it can. And then, of course, the—let’s just be clear. Of course, the tech sector needs to do better. But so the health-care sector has 70 percent entry-level jobs women-represented. That is outstanding. That’s really high. So we’re really excited about that. But guess what. They end up exactly the same place as all the other sectors at the very top. So I don’t think we can be super-excited about that.

Let me just add another piece of it. So, in some other McKinsey Global research and for a topic of a different time, we’re looking at the future of work and the role of automation in displacing activities within work and changing the kind of composition of labor and opportunity.

So the health-care sector is actually a sector where there will be more jobs. They’re harder to automate. You can’t—for a lot of the tasks, you can’t put a bot there, although that’s not exclusively a care for the health-care sector.

So let me just put those two things together. There’s actually job-creation opportunity. There are a lot of women at the start, but we’re no better at the finish. It seems to me that across the health-care sector, there’s something else to be done. And where I would focus that spotlight is in the dips that happen right after. So if you were to say what I would measure, I would measure promotion rates in the health-care sector between entry, manager, director, because that’s where we’re losing an enormous amount of talent.

And what’s really interesting is people say, oh, well, maybe they don’t want to work. Maybe—you know, maybe women just want to go home and have their babies or something like that; you know, some sort of societal stereotype. Well, it turns out if you ask women, in the next two years are you thinking about leaving, and what would you go do, very few—like, 70 percent of men and women are, like, no, no, we’re staying. But of those who think that they’re going to leave, like, less than 2 percent are going to leave to take care of their families. They’re going to leave your company and go work somewhere else. They’re very, very clear on their intention. So that means that we’re not really harnessing the full value of women talent, especially younger female talent, in the health-care sector.

Now, the tech sector, by contrast, kind of just looks bad from the beginning. So we have—you know, if we think about software and coding, where all the growth in the jobs are, we have 18 percent women graduating with CS degrees. It is the only major where we’ve actually lost women representation in the last decade in the United States. So for everywhere else, we’re kind of, like, stagnant; you know, like—oh, it’s, you know, like, bad to be stuck. This one, we’ve actually lost women.

And then the tech sector kind of is able to squeak by, like, 35 percent at the entry level, and then it holds on to the women as much as they can. And you end up at the same level at the top, about something between 15 and 19, 20 percent—not a lot. So the tech sector has a lot of work to do. A lot of the challenges in the tech sector start back earlier. And, you know, while I’m not an expert in education curriculum, you might wonder if we could do more to actually bring people to the education that connects them to the jobs.

NIDES: I mean, interesting; I think the tech sector is where the financial-service sector was 10 years ago. First of all, there’s an enormous amount of focus on the tech sector. You know, they’re many of our best clients, obviously. But because it’s a hot sector, right, everyone wants to be part, be focused. Everyone thinks they’re going to be a millionaire or billionaire by being part of the sector.

And since the spotlight is now on these companies, they’re expected to do and perform at a higher level than everyone else. And I’m shockingly—as they say, the emperor has no clothes. They’re now fixing and trying to address a level of expectations that’s very hard to achieve.

The tech sector is no different than the financial sector and many manufacturers on the struggles they have to retain really high-level and high-talented women. It is not to the point that they can’t hire. They can hire plenty of women. It’s keeping them, creating an environment for them to stay, promoting them at an equal basis as men, and creating the environment for them if they want to be participating. They’re doing what we have to deal with and still deal with, but they are now in the spotlight, as we were, say, 10 years ago.


Q: My name is Galen Guengerich, and I will ask the question about sexual harassment. And I’ll ask it in a particular way.

My day job is as senior minister of All Souls Unitarian Church. So I know a lot about the impact of sexual harassment on women’s lives. And it strikes me that mostly the argument about why sexual harassment is a bad thing is being made in moral terms today, which is a good thing. And it is apprehensive.

But what I wonder is if the argument couldn’t be made in parallel to the argument that you’ve been making about women’s participation, which is based on what is absent. What I know is that women’s lives change profoundly over the long term because of sexual harassment and sexual assault. They leave graduate school. They leave companies. They leave industries. In some cases they leave the workplace.

That absence seems to me to be economically quantifiable. And I’m wondering if, in addition to making a strong moral argument, which absolutely must be made, whether there’s an economic argument to be made based on what is absent from our workplaces and our economy because of the consequences of sexual harassment.

NIDES: So let me—since—let me just—because obviously this is a complicated issue. The level for me is—I mean, obviously the behaviors that are being publicized are repulsive to any sense. What’s going on here has created a level of anxiety and focus on an issue which has been around for a long time. Having a working wife—women on all sides of me have been working their careers—this is a relevant issue that has been going on for a long time. And getting a spotlight on it is really important. And I think we’re all understanding.

I do not believe that all men are pigs, just so we’re clear. And I want to make sure that we weed out the bad guys and the behaviors, but not at the cost of making sure that women and men in the workforce are not working together, but a man uses it as an excuse that I can’t have this woman on my team or should I not do this event with them, and using it as some level of an excuse why we can’t, at the same time, promoting men and women, because, to be clear, in an environment where there’s way more men than women at our firm, part of this has been—to getting ahead is for a woman to be participating in many of the men’s activities. They’ve been going on for a long time. We started the first massive golf tournament, teaching more women how to play golf. Is that ridiculous? Not really. It is—there is some evidence of golf and social activities. I want that to continue.

I want to weed out the creeps. I want to get them out of these firms and get them out of the media and get them out of the companies. But I don’t want to have people use as an excuse in how collaboration and getting ahead and focusing on the women who are exceptionally talented in getting—that’s easy for me to say as a guy, but I do believe that’s the right place to be. And I think people—we’re certainly seeing a recognition.

Interestingly enough, we’ve—you know, we’ve been very aggressive in making sure that people feel at our firm—they can call the hotlines and do all that. We have been—interestingly enough, the investment firms—and hopefully I’ll—hopefully I won’t live to regret saying this—have been pretty good about this topic over this year, just by the nature of the robustness of our HR functions. But it is, without question, something that we’re all taking seriously from a performance, but more importantly, as making sure that we not—we address the actions, but make sure the consequences are not harming the same women we’re trying to help in their careers.

COLEMAN: Anyone else want to say anything?

CREBO-REDIKER: I always think that there have to be ways to quantify and measure things. My personal feeling right now, this is something that is—this is such a strong movement that’s happening, and it’s very raw, that it’s a little early to think about how you’re going to measure the economic impact of this. I’m sure that time will come.

But I think right now this is something where you have, you know, a lot of people coming and saying, you know—obviously the Me Too is there because there are just so many women who have, over the course of their, you know, lives, professional or in school or at home, had these things happen to them.

And so, you know, yes, at some point will somebody look at how this is damaging to companies and—but I think right now it’s sort of how—you know, it’s damaging to lives, and we need to figure out how to, as Tom said, weed out the creeps. I like that. (Laughs.) But that time will come. I just don’t know if now is that time.

YEE: I also think we need to empower the good guys. So one of the things is that, as people are digesting—it’s very raw—there are very practical questions of in the workplace, what do you do if? And the what do you do if has a huge range, from: What do you do if a member of your team comes to you and says that they were sexually harassed in an extremely inappropriate and extreme way by a client? What do you do when you’re in a meeting and a government official is making completely inappropriate remarks? He’s not touching you but he’s making incredibly inappropriate remarks, and it’s you and everyone else is a guy. What do the other people do?

And so you can imagine there are many, many what do you do. What do you do when there is an inappropriate off-color joke? Do you just let that pass? Do you say something? Do you say something public? So the reason I get there is to empower the good guys and gals who don’t want to have a workplace like this. We should also be thinking very quickly about pragmatic solutions right away.

So what are the manager tools and practices that can be very clear on what you do on those range of situations? And we know—so one of the questions that we asked in our workforce survey was something—call it the, you know, a much softer version of harassment, which is when you see disrespectful behavior towards women in the corporate setting, how often do you see a manager or person of authority call it out—intervene on the woman’s behalf? And 55 percent of men said that they saw that, and 34 percent or 33 percent of women saw that.

So even before you get to really complicated what-if scenarios, the very basic there was disrespectful behavior in the moment, 3:00 p.m. at the workplace, and there is kind of what I imagine in that scenario—there were a cartoon of some sort or, you know, a drawing in a newspaper is sort of like deer in headlights—that was inappropriate, and people don’t seem to know what to do. And I think—I see nodding heads—I think we all could write down a list very clearly, very cleanly, recommendations on things you do like, that was a highly inappropriate comment—let’s leave that at the door—(laughter)—you know.

COLEMAN: I’ll just add, Galen, that your question about the economic impact, you know, there’s 68 countries that have no protections at all for women in the workplace and the—

YEE: Not even basic safety.

COLEMAN: —and the conversation around domestic violence 10 years ago was pretty similar and it was quantified. People started quantifying how many days men and women lost at work because of domestic violence and you began to see some changes. So the economics do matter and drive things.

And there’s a question right there.

Q: Thank you. Ali Mazarra with SUNY—State University of New York, Office of Global Affairs.

I and my colleague here direct the program for young women to pursue careers in internationally-focused fields as global leaders in the future and we’ve been fortunate to have Dr. Coleman meet with them on a couple of different occasions.

My question is they get paid internships every summer through the foundation that funds us—the Jewish Foundation for Education of Women—and they’ll often say, wow, we’re—and a lot of them are at NGOs and nonprofits—they’ll say, wow, most of the leadership is women. Most of the people—you know, my boss is a woman. And a lot of it is, I think, because nonprofits are underpaid. So how do we address that issue of women being in leadership and being paid respectably? Thank you.

NIDES: Ha. (Laughter.) I don’t know. I mean, again, you’re 100 percent right, by the way. I mean, I—listen, I have—at Morgan Stanley I have—many of the back-office functions report to me—operations, communications, marketing, HR—you know, these—the functions, and I have a much more, much—many more women working for me—maybe it’s because of my—how I hire people, but—than I do guys.

Now, one would say, well, it’s because those are the functions. You don’t have a bunch of—because you’re not running banking per se and that’s harder for a—for a woman who wants to have a family to be a full-time banker when they’re traveling around the world and around the country. There’s some truth to that.

How do we equalize it? And just to be honest with you, I just literally walked out of a comp meeting because our—guess what? The comp pool for my people is less than the people on the revenue side. That’s just the facts of life, right. I mean, you know this at McKinsey, right. It’s not very complicated. How do you balance that out? I have no idea. You’re 100 percent right. There are more women running foundations today than men. I’m sure—I know I haven’t seen the statistics—and by the nature of a foundation, they’re making less money than corporate America.

I don’t have the answer to the question. It is definitely a problem. But I have a—you know, I have a view of this is we got to make sure that we create, again, going back to where I am and having been both in government, we have to have more role models in both places. We need to have more men working in the nonprofit business. We need more women working on the business side, and that will—you hire people you know and you recruit people that are familiar to you. That’s why having more African Americans means we have more African American support. More women bring more women. It just happens to be the way it works, and that’s—I think that’s how we have to do it. I can’t answer the economic question.

LEE: And it’s a—I mean, there’s also a step back question, which is we just need basic pay equity. So women in America are 80 cents on the dollar to men.

NIDES: Absolutely.

LEE: And then you have to look at the racial groups. So my husband is Latino so my sister-in-law, who went to law school—I consider her really smart. My other sister-in-law, who went—and is an accountant. They make 54 cents on the dollar, on average, as Americans that are Latino. So we have a lot of very basic fundamental challenges when you think about pay equity.

COLEMAN: Right here, in the middle. I got a papal dispensation to go five extra minutes, so I think we have time for one more question.

Q: All right. Thank you very much. Leah Pedersen Thomas. I currently work in mergers and acquisitions, focused, ironically, on a female-dominated industry, which happens to be animal healthcare.

So right now we’re facing some interesting stats in veterinary medicine. One hundred percent of graduates from DVM School of Michigan are women. And so just curious, as an investor in this industry—and by the way, I’ll add, too, that it’s one of the fastest-growing industries, and economically resilient, and Morgan Stanley just made a pretty significant investment in the industry. But with all that being said, what’s the role of investors, and in particular, gender lens investing? And then once investors have a seat at the table, what is their role in terms of encouraging policies that allow women to be successful in the workforce?

CREBO-REDIKER: It’s huge. If you—it’s huge. If you look at some of the countries where they’ve gone for targets and not quotas, when you have asset managers, for example, who are adamant about diversity on boards and diversity in the c-suite, I’ll tell you, it’s really—it has an impact if you’re—if some of your shareholders are sending you a message. CalPERS wrote a letter to 500 companies—500-plus companies in August saying we want more diversity in your—you know, we want more diversity on boards, we want more diversity in the c-suite. And, you know, I can’t think that that is not going to have a really—that’s sending a really big message from a constituency that companies really care about. So I hear you, and I think, you know, particularly, you know, large pension funds are going to have influence, if they decide to use it, that could be a game changer.

NIDES: Yeah, we did—we just did two studies, one in 2016, one in ’17; ’16, we looked at 1,800 companies globally—again, using the same kind of gender lens—boards management, senior management. We found those companies were performing about a 2 percent higher delta than the non-diversity companies. Now, how much is correlation versus causation? I’m not 100 percent certain because just you think about—people who think about this way probably have a better-performing company, right? If you’re having a meeting like this and you’re saying to your senior management why don’t we have more women on the board, that would suggest your company is performing at a higher level, that you can think about these things at a higher level.

We then looked at tech companies, in the same breath, in ’17, and it was actually more staggering, the percentage of returns—I think you talked about this earlier—about those companies that had a more diverse workforce, especially women in it.

So I think it is—especially from the investors’’ perspective—it’s all about the money. I don’t mean that disrespectfully, but it is money talks, OK, and as Heidi says that, you know, CalPERS and CalFERS (ph), and the big pension funds, they have a fiduciary responsibility to have a decent return for the pensioners who are assuming that they’re going to get the money. So they’re going to force companies like ours to perform well. And if they say you’re not—one of the reasons you’re not performing well is your board is not X or your senior management’s not, we listen to that.

So the reason—I’d be curious on why there’s so many—female-dominated in your industry, I just out of curiosity would like to know that. But I think it is—the financial piece really matters, and I think we can build a case that more women in our businesses at that level perform better.

COLEMAN: OK, I think we are actually out of time. It’s 11:05, and I know they want to take a break. And I see a lot of hands still up there, and I’m sorry we didn’t get to everyone’s questions, but hopefully you can pigeonhole some of our panelists at the end here.

I just want to thank so much Lareina, Tom, and Heidi for your insights and sharing your experiences, so thank you. (Applause.)


Session III: Women's Contributions to Conflict Prevention and Resolution

This is the third and final session of the Women in Foreign Policy symposium. 

Despite the growing evidence that women’s participation in peace and security processes improves stability, the inclusion of women in these processes has lagged since the passage of the landmark UN Security Council Resolution 1325 in 2000. The speakers on this panel review lessons from conflict situations and provide recommendations on addressing state fragility by advancing women’s roles in conflict prevention and peacebuilding. Speakers Kurt W. Tidd and Liliana Ayalde join the event via videoconference. 

To commemorate the fifteenth anniversary of the Women and Foreign Policy program at the Council on Foreign Relations, this symposium convenes leading experts on global women's issues to analyze the status of women worldwide and evaluate their contributions to governance, economic growth, and conflict prevention and resolution.


GREENBERG: Good morning. I’m so glad you stayed for this session. My name is Karen Greenberg, I’m the director of the Center on National Security at Fordham Law School.

And here with me today are two people who are here and two people who are virtual. So I’m—and I’m trusting this is all going to be perfect as these two individuals are in Guyana, so keep your fingers crossed.

Let me introduce our wonderful panelists. We’re going to start with Nancy Lindborg who is here with us today. She is the president of the United States Institute of Peace, USIP, a post which she’s held since early 2015, I think. Prior to that, she worked at USIA working on building resilience and democracy and managing conflict and providing humanitarian aid—not a small portfolio. She has worked in a number of areas around the globe and her expertise spans from Syria and the Middle East to Africa, North Korea, South Asia, and elsewhere.

So thank you, Nancy, for joining us.

The next speaker after Nancy is going to be Admiral Tidd. Kurt Tidd is an admiral in the Navy, commander of U.S. Southern Command. Prior to that, he was assistant to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He’s held numerous posts on the National Security Council, at NATO as an aide to the U.S. representative there, and was integral to the creation of the War and Operations Planning Group established after the attacks of September 11th. He’s served as an Olmsted Foundation scholar and as a fellow at the Atlantic Council.

We are pleased to have him.

After he speaks, we will turn to Sarah Sewall who is currently the Speyer Family Foundation distinguished scholar at the Johns Hopkins Kissinger Center for Global Affairs. Previously, she was at Harvard’s Kennedy School where she directed the Carr Center, and at the U.S. Naval College. She’s served in government in a variety of posts, both at State and at the Pentagon. She’s focused, among other things, on the relationship, the important relationship, between security and human rights. Her most recent book is on creating and implementing civil-military policies. She has contributed to, edited, and written numerous books on topics including the International Criminal Court, and she’s also written about counterinsurgency, so she spans the entire spectrum of what we hope to talk about today.

And finally, we will be hearing from our videoconference, from Ambassador Liliana Ayalde, career Foreign Service officer who has served as a civilian deputy commander and foreign policy adviser to Admiral Tidd since January of 2017, this year. Previously, she served as U.S. ambassador to Brazil and to Paraguay. She has also served as deputy assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs and at USAID.

So as you can see, this is the perfect panel to discuss the role of women in conflict prevention and resolution. And let me just say—I guess it needs no saying—but this is actually a very important time to be discussing this topic as relationships around the world and relationships with the United States seem to be increasingly tense and, in some areas, increasingly fragile. And so, really, the question of what can women contribute is very important.

This past October, Congress passed the Women, Peace, and Security Act. This is an act which really follows on the U.N.’s program for Women, Peace, and Security. It’s a long time in coming. And under this act, the president has been charged within a year of coming up with recommendations for policies throughout the government in how to include women, how best to include them and how to integrate them into all of the thinking and implementation and policymaking. We’ll see how that goes. We’ll see you back here in a year.

But the real question is, you know, what can women bring to the table? What have women brought to the table? And what are the biggest challenges and accomplishments that we’d like to see in the future?

And so for the umbrella overview of all of this, I’m going to turn to Nancy Lindborg.

LINDBORG: Thank you.


LINDBORG: And it’s really a pleasure to be here with wonderful panelists.

Thank you, Karen.

And thank you, CFR.

The mission of the U.S. Institute of Peace is to prevent and resolve violent conflict, and so this is a topic very near and dear to my heart. We’ve worked on gender issues for almost two decades now in the realization that to accomplish our mission, one needs to build peace from both the top down and the bottom up. We live in a very multipolar and multi-stakeholder world. And if you’re not including 50 percent of your population, you’re not bringing that capacity to bear on preventing and resolving conflict.

And secondly, that it needs to be inclusive processes, that it’s no longer just diplomats brokering peace deals, but that you need to engage and be inclusive of women and their capabilities.

The whole Women, Peace, and Security effort over the last 15 years has been to shift the narrative from women as victims of conflict to women as contributors to peace process. And so as we look at how that’s worked, I want to just note three places in which I think we’ve got great stories of where women are contributing, and it also illustrates how much work we have left to do.

But first is in those formal peace processes that end conflicts. And there’s some wonderful research that shows that when you include women at the peace table, you have a 30 percent probability that that peace accord will endure 15 years or more.

And the latest wonderful example of having women at the table was, of course, the Colombia peace accord. And maybe our other colleagues will talk about that as well. But women were literally at that table with a significant presence in Havana negotiating the peace accords. And what it helped to do was to keep key concerns in the peace accord, issued around victims’ rights, around restitution, the kinds of issues that are often left out if you don’t have a more inclusive approach.

We worked with about 30 women mediators around the country who were also negotiating peace accords locally so that it was a complement to what was going on in the formal peace process. And just one quick story is there was a woman—there was a wonderful woman named Fleur (ph) in a community called Cauca in which in 2015 the FARC kidnapped 39 children from that village, which was a common occurrence. And what this community did, instead of a march or calling in the military, is Fleur (ph), this woman, mobilized the parents of the children, they went into the jungle, and they negotiated with the FARC, the armed insurgents, and they came back after several days with all but one of the children who were kidnapped, using negotiation and mediation skills. And she then got elected mayor. So, I mean, it’s one of those stories of how you’re able to work at the ground level to complement from the top level.

Secondly, peacekeeping. There’s only 4 percent of women who are in the deployed peacekeeping troops. And yet, we have a wonderful example in Monrovia, Liberia where you have an all-women police unit, they’re all Indians, and they have done a remarkable job of keeping peace in the community through nine rotations now because of a different level of engagement. They really focus on connecting with the community, doing classes. They’ve taught map reading to the local police force. And it’s fundamentally building trust with the community as a means of providing greater security for everyone there.

And that goes to my third example, which is the role of women in countering violent extremism. Because what we’ve seen is that, in working with women in places like Nigeria or Kenya, that when women are engaged with local security actors and there’s a greater trust between the police and the women at the community level, that they can be more effective in a partnership in understanding and getting ahead of either recruitment or potential terrorist attacks.

And we saw that in Garissa where a women-led group worked very closely with the police actors, with whom they previously had no communication, and they were able to prevent at least two verifiable Al-Shabaab attacks in that community. This was following the big university attack. So in both structural and informal processes, women are making substantial contributions.

And I’ll just conclude by saying that what we’re seeing with a lot of very interesting data, that gender equity and gender inclusion can be one of the greatest indicators of peacefulness in a country, a greater indicator than GDP, for example. And so bringing women into these processes as a part of a larger overall approach is key to preventing and resolving violent conflict.

GREENBERG: Yeah. Just as a footnote, the U.N. has produced statistics saying that—it’s an interesting way they word it—that peace agreements are 64 percent less likely to fail when women and other diversity groups are included, so for what it’s worth. So thank you.

We’re going to turn now to Admiral Tidd. Admiral Tidd, being in a position of command, has given a lot of thought to the issue of the integration of women in policy and implementation, and also to the need to keep up standards of professionalization, which I think came up in the last panel.

So, Admiral Tidd, can you talk to us about how to balance these equities and these concerns? Can you hear me?

Oops. I can’t hear, can you hear?

If you can hear me, we can’t—

SEWALL: There we go.

GREENBERG: Yep, perfect.

TIDD: OK. Can you hear me now?


TIDD: OK. So we’re doing—testing out the interesting technology here from Guyana.

Thanks for this opportunity. Appreciate the chance to meet with you.

First, let me—I think a caveat is we look across all of the areas that we’re responsible for in Latina America and the Caribbean, 31 different nations. I’m very cautious not to overgeneralize because we’ve got lots of different places along the path of gender integration.

But I think one of the most important points to make is that, as we work with countries and the militaries, security forces within these countries, I think it’s important that we counteract some of the stereotypes that are out there, that when we think of Latin America, there’s a little bit of a tendency, I think, within our culture to look at these countries as with a machismo culture and one that discounts the value and the important role of women in those cultures.

But what we are seeing within the militaries and particularly within those countries that have, for some time now, played an important role in U.N. peacekeeping operations, many of them have recognized the value of incorporating women in their militaries and the role that their women peacekeepers are playing. And as has already been pointed out, in some of the instances in Africa, it opens opportunities to be able to deal with the much larger population, that when you have exclusively an all-male military or police force that’s in there, you just never get that opportunity to connect.

And the point that we make—and one of the reasons why at SOUTHCOM we have identified effective gender integration as a military imperative, it’s a hallmark of a modern, capable, 21st military or security force—because we feel that if these countries are going to be able to improve the security situations both within their countries, but more and more so as they work with each other to try and improve security across the region, they’ve got to be able to look at and recruit from their entire population. If they restrict themselves to only 50 percent of the population, oftentimes they’re missing out on some significant pockets of talented individuals. And those talented individuals will give them, I think, perspectives and problem-solving skills that if they don’t take advantage of they’re going to be missing out on opportunities.

Now, from a purely military, pragmatic perspective, we think it’s important that we create teams that are representative not only of our populations, but that are—that take advantage of all of the strengths and capabilities that our entire populations represent in order to be able to come up with solutions to security challenges that some of our adversaries that don’t recognize and value the role of women within their populations might not think about, might not consider. And so, frankly, it gives us a competitive advantage as we develop some of these solutions.

And so for—I think some of you are familiar with operations that we’ve had in Afghanistan and in Iraq where, before we incorporated women into some of the combat forces, they really were not able to communicate effectively with or take advantage of contacts within many of the villages that they would go into.

(Video feed freezes.)

LINDBORG: It was a powerful final point.

GREENBERG: It was. (Laughter.) It might have been—that might be it. I think we’re going to move on actually. And if he comes back, we’ll just hold his comments until later.

TIDD: And did we lose you?

GREENBERG: Temporarily.

TIDD: OK. We’re kind of up and down here, but I’ve got you back now.


TIDD: So let me stop there and just leave the floor open for further questions.

GREENBERG: Perfect. All right.

We’re going to turn to Sarah Sewall, and talk a little bit about—just turn a little bit—I want to pull back from this conversation and talk a little bit about what’s—he mentioned—Admiral Tidd mentioned machismo culture. And I want to push that a little bit further and just talk about the power dynamic throughout the national security community, you know, and in foreign relations and how you see it. Because I know you’ve given significant thinking to this. And just sort of how it—what that issue is about in trying to struggle for the integration of women as valuable resources.

SEWALL: Great. Well, thanks, Karen.

And it’s great to be here at the Council with all of you concerned persons.

And it’s great to be with both Nancy and Admiral Tidd. I traveled with Admiral Tidd, with the secretary of state when I was undersecretary, and I’ve worked closely with Nancy, and so it’s fun to be here, it feels like a reunion. And we’ve worked on many of the same issues.

And the question that you raise of power dynamics is a really important one, Karen, because when I was undersecretary of state for civilian security, democracy, and human rights, I worked a lot with women’s issues, with U.N. Women. I was—I was a—whenever I would travel, I was dealing with women. And so often, the roles in which I saw women in the field, they were advocates, they were appealing to power. Right? So they were part of the disappeared or they were part of the victims of sexual abuse or they were, you know, they were trying to alleviate domestic violence suffering. And so they are essentially, in so many contexts, whether it’s cultural, whether it’s structural power, they are supplicants, they are appealing to power.

And so, you know, one of the things that I would often talk with my interlocutors in the U.N. system about is how we had to be really careful. This came up in the context of the Syria peace negotiations that the U.N. was attempting to start, where the women would come and they would meet with me and they would want a role and they would want a role, and so the U.S. would advocate for the women to have a role. But there was a real difficulty that we always faced, which is—and this is a U.N. Women, Peace, and Security issue—how do we keep from being bought off with just procedural satisfaction, right? How do we—how do we change it from being just involved in the process to actually having some oomph in the process, right?

So external actors can help provide a seat at the table when they are helping to create a mediating environment, whether it’s the U.N. or whether it’s a coalition of concerned states. But at the end of the day, you’ve got to really put some meat on the bones if you want the voices of women to matter.

And two points on that. I mean, Nancy makes a very important point, which is that women are often seen as a proxy for issues. Well, why the heck is that? Why aren’t men the proxy? What are those issues that are neglected systematically? That, to me, speaks to a broader disconnect in power in existing state structures if it’s women who are expected to bring issues X or Y or Z to the table when you’re negotiating a peace.

You know, and the second piece of it is, even if they’re at the table, who’s going to guarantee that their views are going to ultimately be inculcated? You know, in some cases, and I think Colombia is a good example, where the government recognized the importance of sexual violence and compensation for sexual violence and the avoidance of future sexual violence, which had really been sort of structurally embedded within that conflict, from happening. And so the government was very open and the FARC was very open to making that happen. But that’s not usually the case in conflict. I mean, who ends up at the peace table? The people who have the guns and the people who are committing the abuses.

And so unless you’ve got an external power source that’s going to come in and not just say they need a seat at the table, but those seats need to actually mean something, that needs to translate into real change. And then that change needs to be reinforced over time. I mean, again, the Afghan constitution is a really good example of where it looked great on paper, but it was much harder to actually make even equal rights for women become more approximated as governance went on, so.

And then the final point about women in processes is that in the Syria women are a good example. You know, they were all united in wanting to end war. Well, that’s the easy part, right. Well, what about governance? What about confessional affiliation and representation? What about regional versus centralized control?

You know, at the end of the day, those women’s issues—the women’s voice is going to be divided because the human voice is divided because people have different opinions. And so—and so we have to recognize it even as we advocate for women to be part of the processes that what we expect them to be united on may not be the only thing they have legitimate views on and this, again, gets me back to the issue of structurally how do we think about power as being available to women.

My favorite examples of women’s empowerment are usually where women have been appointed to roles where they weren’t expected to do much—where they were expected just to sort of, you know—and I know because I’ve always worked at vanguard issues that weren’t occupied by men in the security space and so the women occupied them. And lo and behold, when they become important, the men become more interested.

But so often, the—women are appointed to positions where they’re expected to be quiet and docile and then when they’re not, that’s, I think, a real wake-up call. And my favorite example of that is the attorney general in Guatemala, who was appointed by the government, thinking that she wouldn’t rock the boat.

But lo and behold, the U.N. had come in with an independent commission and many external actors to include the United States were deeply interested in the corruption issues that had sent, you know, tens of thousands of Guatemalans to the street in outrage and got them to elect someone who had formerly been a clown but who pledged that he was clean.

Well, the attorney general ended up becoming a huge force representing a grassroots movement, to the astonishment of the establishment, and paired forces with the U.N. independent commission and had protection from outside powers that were very interested in what she was doing.

And so she fundamentally transformed power in a way—she had this role, and she used it in a way that was totally unexpected. But she was helped because she had external support. And so I would just press us all to be thinking both about the formalism of involvement in roles, involvement in peace processes, appointment to government positions. But I would also have us think about what are the broader power dynamics within which that happens and how can we work as outsiders who want to empower change to empower those internally—not just put them there but actually empower them.


Let’s bring in Ambassador Ayalde, who’s had a lot of experience in what you’re talking about at all different levels in terms of engagement with—with men but also in engagement with women and what women at the local level on up bring to the table. Ambassador Ayalde.

AYALDE: Yes. First of all, thank you for including me. We were having a bit of a connection problem, so I didn’t quite hear the question. Are you hearing us?

GREENBERG: Yes. Can you hear me now? No.

AYALDE: Can you repeat what—what you just said—


AYALDE: —in terms of the introduction?

GREENBERG: —can you talk a little bit about the value of women-to-women interaction at all different levels in—in negotiations and peace—peacemaking?

AYALDE: Well, it goes without saying that if you want to have a real impact you have to involve everyone and you can’t ignore half of the population when you’re—when you’re trying to make sure you have a very broad impact and including everyone.

So women need to be involved, and we have clear examples. I mean, I think the Colombia example—over the years, we’ve seen that involving them in the process but as well in the other aspects of the implementation are key to really having the success—the successful negotiation in the peace negotiations but also in ensuring that the implementation is actually carried out in a way that will impact all the victims.

So and I think that has progressed with experience. Having been in the region for a long time, have seen maybe an example also about Guatemala, those were things that were not seen—you could not find before, and so now those faces are being made available and I think those role models are very critical in moving the agenda where you have that gender integration for a much more successful outcome.

So we’re seeing some—some progress and, certainly, in peace negotiations it’s essential and we have some examples to point to.

GREENBERG: Are there any—just as a follow-up question, are there any particular areas as you’ve looked at this integration where women have been uniquely valuable, or not? Can’t hear? Good to know. Well, we’ll assume the answer was yes. (Laughter.)

But I wanted to have you follow up on something that Sarah had talked on following Admiral Tidd, which is this question of women in power but also a response to the machismo sensibilities and just how that sort of has played out, because you and I have talked about that earlier and I just wanted to—

LINDBORG: Sure, and then I want to say something about the peace process.

GREENBERG: Definitely.

LINDBORG: You—Sarah, as always, was brilliant in her—what she talked about. But on the machismo thing, at USIP we’ve worked a lot with partners on this whole issue of masculinity and understanding that if you’re looking at—you know, so there’s structural shifts—how do you put a peace process together—but there’s also cultural normative issues that usually need to be addressed.

And what we—what we found is that particularly in a lot of cultures that have been grinding through decades of conflict, you have a notion of masculinity that is taught through generations that valorizes violence, often because they’re denied other opportunities, there’s a certain hopelessness, and it prioritizes or valorizes, you know, submission of women, violence against women, you know, sometimes rape as a common form of oppression of the other in that society.

And so without tackling that issue, without going to the heart of some of these masculinity norms, it will be very difficult to really move in—out of these cycles of violence, partly because of the way that Sarah talked about in terms of where the power is.

But if I could also add on to that, on this issue of women in the peace processes and power, I hope everybody here has seen “Pray the Devil Back to Hell” and has heard about the wonderful story of the Liberian women who didn’t have a place at the table and they took matters into their own hands and kept the guys with the guns at the table until they came up with a peace accord, which is, I think, one of the most exhilarating examples of how, in the absence of a structural approach, women are able to move forward.

However, I would also note that you’re right, Sarah, in that I think we can get in a bad place if we focus on quotas—you know, you’ve got to have two women at the peace table. And often they’re just a part of the dynamic that’s problematic.

But I do think that there’s—there’s advantages to insisting from the U.N. level, A, that we have more envoys and negotiators and mediators who are women—there are very, very few—and secondly, that we structure some of these negotiations that do include women. The first envoy on Syria when we were both in office did not let women be at the table. I remember, as you probably did, meeting with them in rainy—days of Geneva in cafés. The second one did, and women were given their own envoys so that they weren’t a party to the two sides where you had kind of women as pawns.

That’s important progress and that does help break through some of the guys-with-guns dynamics. Now, Syria is a tough example because we haven’t reached any useful accord. But I do think that we need to chisel away at the structural aspects of peace—of the peace process.

GREENBERG: It’s time to open up the floor for questions. So I would like to ask more but I’m going to open it up to members now. Please remember that this is an on-the-record event so that—with that in mind, Cora. Please identify yourself.

Q: I’m Cora Weiss from The Hague Appeal for Peace.

In answer to your question about have women made a difference, people should remember the Irish Good Friday peace accord, where two women who had to form the women’s political party to get to the table, made a difference because they wouldn’t let the guys keep talking until they institutionalized human rights, and the whole human rights structure came out of those two women and that peace agreement, and it’s a model, I think, for future agreements.

But I wanted to refer to your speaking about the U.S. Congress’ Women, Peace, and Security Resolution, and people should remember—I’m sure we all do—that in 2000, the United Nations unanimously—Security Council unanimously adopted 1325 on Women, Peace, and Security, which has three Ps.

It calls for the participation of women at every level of governance, for the prevention of violent conflict, and for the protection of women and girls during violent conflict. And that was unanimously adopted, including the United States, resolution, which is international law. And it seems to me that we’re not referencing it. We’re not implementing it. We’re not referring to it and using it whenever the situation arises, which is 24/7, and that even today on these three sessions, which have been fascinating, no one has referred to it, and it’s the law—the international law—until you did this morning.

So that’s one question I have is how are we going to use it so that it sticks. When is the peacekeeping operation going to insist that peacekeepers be trained in 1325 and even take a test in how they understand it? There are lots of questions that relate to that.

And the National Action Plan that the U.S. wrote I think when Hillary was secretary was given to the Department of Defense to draft first when the women who wrote 1325 and the women who proposed it had no care, no interest, in making war safe for women. This was a peace resolution, not a military or war resolution.

GREENBERG: Good. So do you want to first address 1325 and the fate of it and why—either one of you?

SEWALL: Sure. I mean, we worked on 1325 as a—as a matter of faith the entire time that I was in the Clinton administration, and the point that I hoped I had articulated was that 1325 is a great starting point but it’s not far enough—that we have to think not just about procedural involvement of women but we have to think about the structural empowerment of women to include the diversity of thought that exists among women about policy issues and to try to make concerns like human rights which, as you rightly pointed out, were—happened to be introduced into the Northern Ireland peace process by women. But I would like to see a world in which the men might introduce human rights as well.

And so if what we’re striving for is something where—where the values that women are assumed to represent are more broadly held, then 1325 is a great launching pad, and probably not enough people think about it as the launching pad. But I do think that we risk reifying process if we stay solely within that realm. And so I would like to see us—and this is perhaps a hard thing to say at the current moment in the domestic American political life—but I would like to see us, you know, move beyond women at the table into women’s empowerment more fully.

GREENBERG: Did you want to say something here?

LINDBORG: I would just note that it’s notable that it took 15 years for us to put it into national law. I mean, you know that it was international law. I give Senator Shaheen an enormous shout-out for her leadership on that.

But also it’s interesting what—and the Canadian defense minister has just adopted, you know, a whole suite of provisions drawn from 1325 to inform structural change in the Canadian military. And, you know, so I think it’s an interesting question about the impact of a legislative approach versus or in comparison to the impact of those kinds of structural top-down leadership demands and it will be important to see where and how we get the greatest level of change. And it has been a slow—too slow of a process. You hear about it. It’s talked all over the world. It’s talked about. But it has yet to gain the kind of real traction that leads to the change I think everyone envisioned. But the most important thing that it’s done has changed the conversation, I believe, importantly from women as victim to women as contributors to security. And that alone – that narrative shift has been really important.

GREENBERG: So the question becomes, what does it take to actually change the culture, right? You can change all these structural things, all these, you know, narratives. But the question is, when does the culture itself actually change? Not this year. No, it’s coming. (Laughter.)

All right. Next question. Over here.

Oh, sorry. Admiral Tidd, what would you like to say?

TIDD: Yes. I would like just to observe on that point that 20 years ago U.S. Southern Command established a human rights initiative. And next week, we’ll be celebrating the 20th anniversary of that initiative. And again, that is to take the point that for militaries to be effective they’ve got to be viewed by their populations as protectors, and not as predators. And so what we’ve seen is over time an effort to change the role of the militaries within Central and South America. Not perfect by any stretch of the imagination. But it’s an area that we continue to hammer on with all of our interactions as we work with, as we train, as we develop—

(Video feed freezes.)

GREENBERG: OK. Next question. Over here.

Q: OK. Lieutenant Colonel Rachel Grimes, the U.N.’s military’s gender advisor.

(Background noise.) Oh, painful.

Well, I’d just like to reassure everybody in the audience that within the U.N. and the military, 1325 is daily in our thinking. My job is to try to get more women officers out to peacekeeping, and also to make sure that our patrols are no longer single sex. In 21st century peacekeeping, how can we have all-male patrols? It’s a scandal. And so my question to, and to everybody in this audience, I daily have lessons in misogyny and casual sexism when I’m working with the military advisors to try and encourage them to send more women. How do people in this room think that you can start to advocate on individual countries? And I say that because SEA, everybody says the U.N. needs to do more on SEA. But actually, what we should do is break it down and look at the individual countries who are committing SEA, and start to be tougher on those countries. And I wonder if we could start to take that next step of being tougher on individual countries who fail to deploy any women officers of women soldiers to peacekeeping.

GREENBERG: If she can hear me I’d like – Ambassador Ayalde, can you hear me? Can you hear me? OK, I think she might—OK. We’re going to forego that asking—

AYALDE: We’re back.

GREENBERG: Oh, you’re back. OK. Can you—if you can hear me, I was hoping you could address this question about taking it country by country to work against the kind of misogyny and exclusion of women from security forces, security policy, et cetera. I guess not. OK.

TIDD: OK. (Off mic)—you know, the—and I don’t want to—

GREENBERG: Remind me to do this again. (Laughs.)

TIDD: OK. I mean, part of the issue is taking the steps to encourage countries to recruit women into their militaries in the first place. And those are the steps that are beginning. But it takes time. I mean, I absolutely take the point of countries that deploy peacekeeping forces, without any women as part of their peacekeeping teams. I think that’s one of the areas where we see countries like Chile and Uruguay taking a leadership, where as they end their peacekeeping operation schools they emphasize the important role of women. And they are increasing the numbers of women in the teams that they deploy. And the women over time are occupying increasingly senior and more senior positions within those teams. So it is—it is happening. It’s happening slowly. But I think those countries that have become real leaders in the field recognize the importance of it.

SEWALL: Yeah. One of the things I did frequently in engaging both with foreign militaries and with foreign police forces, because I was responsible for much of our assistance in those regards when I was at State, is encourage people to—state institutions to involve more women. And the way in which you can make that happen is to have the countries that provide the equipment and the training insist on that. I mean, again, it gets to the power dynamic. You can say whatever you want, but if you don’t say: When we do this training program we expect X number of women in it, then the change won’t happen.

To the point about cultural norms, I remember one of the places that I was speaking to about the importance of women in the police force in terms of combatting sexual violence against women was in Indonesia. Well, they still administer a virginity test for their new recruits in Indonesia. So here’s a great example of a cultural phenomenon that coexists with nominal, progressive movement institutionally. And so there’s no—there’s no lack of opportunity for us to do more in that regard.

If you go up one level, and you think about the U.N. and peacekeeping forces, you know, as everybody on this panel knows, we’re in such dire straits when it comes to recruiting peacekeeping that I think that’s been – if we had had a surplus of excess capability on the peace operations front, then we would be able to be much pickier. And I think part of what deters the international community from pushing for higher standards is the fact that we have such a need for international peacekeepers and far too few countries willing to provide them. So, again, until we’re in a position where we’re able to change that dynamic, it’s unlikely that we’ll see the progress that you’re suggesting remains necessary on the U.N. peacekeeping front.

GREENBERG: Right. And part of that is actually privileging a culture of peacemaking and negotiation as opposed to other alternatives. So it’s a—it’s a larger, not necessarily gendered, dialogue, right, in which women can then play a role.

Other questions? Right here in the pink.

Q: Thank you. Thank you. I’m Yasmine Ergas from Columbia—sorry. Yasmine Ergas from Columbia University. I didn’t look at my mic.

I wanted to go back, though, to the question of power, because I agree completely with what Sarah was saying about the fact that presence at a table, no matter how symbolically significant it may be, is actually not the only issue. And that it’s far more important to be able to get to meaningful participation. And perhaps ultimately not just to talk about being at the table, but, as we’ve always said, talking about the shape of the table. So my question, though, is that if you really want to talk about power, you’ve got to talk about the social relationships that—and social and economic structures that underlie the inequalities of power that are then reflected by the time that you get to a peace process. In fact, by the time that you get to any form of conflict.

And what troubles me is a way of thinking about women, peace, and security, as if the security question and as if the conflict issue were separate from, could be effectively segmented away, cut away from underlying social and economic, as well as cultural, dynamics. So my question really is, how do make those connections? How do you really envisage a transformation of power relations such that when women sit at the table it’s not because they’ve—the peacekeeping team has been—or the negotiators have been pressed to do so by a foreign power, which will always be perceived as a foreign power, but rather because they already arrive, at least relatively, empowered? It seems to me that that requires a different way of thinking about the peace and security agenda. And I just wonder how we might undertake that.

GREENBERG: You know, Nancy, this kind of ties into your narrative, you know, analysis of this. And maybe you should talk a little bit about that.

LINDBORG: Well, I would—I would return to two points that I made initially. The first is some very compelling data that I’m sure you’ve seen—Valerie Hudson has done a lot of work on this at Texas A&M—but, you know, that shows the relationship between those social, economic, inclusion indicators and the relative peacefulness of a country. So I think the dots are there to be fully connected. There’s other research as well that at least provides us with the impetus for why we need to think of these peace and security issues far upstream, and start from the premise that countries that are more inclusive, that women have a greater role, that they are, you know, more fully participants in the social and economic fabric, will be able to prevent conflicts from becoming violent. And that is a whole large agenda of work.

A lot—from the peacebuilding perspective, I think a lot of the effort is in enabling women to be very active at every level of their society, and providing the kinds of tools that help them be, you know, like the Irish women, or stock the pipeline, so that they’re moving up through positions of power in the institutions of those countries. I mean, it’s a—it’s a large conversation that goes to the very heart of the state and the society relationship and the values that drive it. And I think—I completely agree with your fundamental analysis that we need to think in those terms.

GREENBERG: Sarah, do you want to add anything?

SEWELL: I’ll just say briefly, I don’t think—you know, I come at this still—I guess I’m still fresh from a government perspective, where you’re thinking about the role of states in helping to—in helping the parties within a conflict come to some kind of agreement. And there, I think you’re not going to change—you can’t change the dynamic that came to the table. You know, to grossly misquote Donald Rumsfeld, you know, you’re going to fight with the army you got, right? Like, they are what they are when they come to that table. What I think external actors can do is say: If you want us to underwrite this future that you’re building together, then we’re with that, right? Those issues are our issues. And as you think about structuring the way that you’re going to have external support going forward, those will be priorities.

So I think, to some extent, if we think of women as proxies for values that we, as a country, can’t impose within a peace process, that they’re a proxy for the values that we think are important for a sustainable peace, then what we need to do as external agents brokering that peace is to reinforce that with resources, with process, with continued engagement. I think to some degree, we’ll see—we’ll see glimmers of hope for that in Colombia, because we, the U.S., have been so invested in Colombia. But the question is, when we’re providing our resources, how much of that is going to demobilization versus other kinds of things? How much of it is still in the counter-drug fight, versus the kinds of things we expected the women to carry at the table, right?

And so to me, it’s about how do the external power dynamics been able to compensate for what internally is already broken, by virtue of there having been a conflict, in most cases? You can’t change that before it comes to the table, but you can try to reinforce the change that comes out of the table.

GREENBERG: More questions. Over here. Wait for the microphone. It’s just—and identify yourself.

Q: Sure. Rina Amiri. I’m an advisor with DPA, at the United Nations Department of Political Affairs, and I’m also at NYU.

I agree with a lot of the comments that have been said here, including one of the things that I think we need to bear in mind is there’s such a heavy focus on the table. And peace processes, while that’s critical, they’ve evolved. It’s not just one table. It’s multiple tables. And as Sarah and Nancy alluded, the table—the hierarchy, the dynamics of the table, are going to be as they are. It is led by a delegation, who will determine who speaks. So it’s really important—it’s incredibly important to demand—to push for quotas. But we need to also be thinking about other tables.

For example, in Syria, where the U.N. has pushed for the inclusion of women, there are women at the table. But there are some more interesting processes that have been added, including a women’s advisory board by de Mistura, a civil society support room. And the—I think one of the things that we need to think about is how do we empower those other tables and provide more leverage to them, provide more political support to them? Because we are still so state-centric—that is, the foreign ministers to foreign ministers. And with these other processes, we do sort of a nominal visit to these representatives, but we don’t treat it as a meaningful part of the peace process. I think that’s one question to think about.

The other is peace negotiations are a lot about power. That’s why you get the people that you get at the table, power in terms of the way that they can have an impact on the conflict and conflict mitigation. But there’s another element of it, which is responsibility sharing. And I think that’s where women come in, the responsibility—and this is something that my colleagues speak about a lot—that our own framework has to change. And how can we contribute to that dialogue? Thank you.

GREENBERG: I want to try to just bring in Ambassador Ayalde. Can you hear me? It’s too bad, because this is something she’s actually—she said yes?

AYALDE: We’re on. Yes.

GREENBERG: Good. I thought you might be—you might want to respond to that. Did you hear the question?

AYALDE: Did I have a question?

GREENBERG: No, did you hear the question that was just asked?

TIDD: I think the problem is when you turn away and face the screen, you’re not talking into the microphone, and it gives up on us.

GREENBERG: OK. All right. All right. So the question that was asked, which was actually very eloquent and very detailed, was basically it’s one thing to talk about the table that the power players come to, but another thing to talk about the ancillary things that are just as important that go on, and that as power relationships shift, is there a way to empower some of these conversations that are alongside, maybe not as valued, as the more-powerful-at-the-table conversations between the top officials.

And I know that you’ve worked in the (intercesis ?) of some of these conversations. And I just wondered if you wanted to respond to that need for respecting and developing further these alternative venues for discussion and negotiation.

AYALDE: Well, yes, I think there’s definitely a need to expand on that. I mean, you can’t just focus on having the including women at the negotiating table and expect everything to work out if you’re not—if it’s not concentric circles of what you’re working on. So it’s an overriding optic that needs to be taken into account as you—not only as you negotiate, but as you implement. Because if you can negotiate an agreement as all pulled together into a document, but then you don’t get the results that you need, then you’re not having the impact.

So very definitely it’s an ongoing process. And again, not to just talk about process, but it’s a slow process and it has to be constantly something that we need to be viewing and keeping an eye on to make sure that that perspective is included in—not only is it at the table, the formal table, but all the different aspects of the work; so very definitely.

GREENBERG: Nancy, just—I’d like you to follow up on that, because, you know, in terms of your power analysis, there is a theory of power inclusion that starts with alternative venues and then finding your voice at the table by influencing the surrounding environment and creating the context for the conversation at the table. How do you see this?

LINDBORG: Yes. And I would note that, you know, any peace accord is a beginning. And the implementation of it is more likely to be successful if it is connected to a variety of processes that are happening to support it. I cited earlier the example of the Colombian women who were negotiating local peace accords throughout the negotiated process at the formal table. And we see over and over again that you can’t get to a state-to-state conclusion often if you don’t have constituent support.


LINDBORG: This is not—you know, I don’t think this is necessarily a gendered issue, but there—because women are so outside of the official power structures, they often have a greater voice and agency working outside those structures, and those become essential complements to the formal peace process, without which—and so the statistic that you cited, the—

GREENBERG: Sixty-four percent.

LINDBORG: —(convert ?); I cited the 34 percent are more likely to endure 15 more years. I think it’s because, fundamentally, they’re more inclusive. And they’re more inclusive of those activities that are complementary to what goes on at the state-to-state level.

GREENBERG: Right. And to your point about who’s at the table and who’s not at the table, in a way, if you think about it, you know, the statistics are what, that less than 8 percent of the people who are involved in these negotiations are women? Less than 5 percent are involved in the actual document itself. So in a way, this is—this has to be the case.

So more questions. In the back over there.

Q: (Off mic)—Population Council.

Two points; one, just a further elaboration I’d be interested in on tipping points for change, because, you know, management theory says at least 30 percent, for instance, at the table and so forth—and certainly our experience is that concentrations of females—you know, female spaces and so forth so that they can support each other, but also because of the internal diversity, so in negotiations or in presence in any institution. The Panchayati Raj in India, which has been very successful, benchmarks at least a third of the—and they have control over resources, at least some, at the local level. So comment on that.

And also, in addition, perhaps, to the data points, I think, would make a big difference. People are still, I think, focused on women’s share of the economy as opposed to their current—what they currently have as responsibilities without authority over resources. And to the point, in Liberia, 92 percent of current adolescent girls will be single mothers for significant periods of time. So basically the contract for the children of that country—and those figures—and I have them for a lot of countries—those figures will increase in conflict, obviously, and they increase as you get to poorer segments in places in which you have an incubator of violence.

So points—I think it’s really important to add that, because, in effect—and even as fertility falls and other things change, a rising proportion of all dependency burdens for younger and older dependents falls on females. They just don’t have sufficient authority over resources. They certainly have responsibility. So those data, I think, are useful data points as well.

GREENBERG: Another question. That was more to—

LINDBORG: Good point.

GREENBERG: Yes. Thank you.

Yeah, final question.

Q: Thank you. I’m Gayle Tzemach Lemmon from the Council on Foreign Relations.

And one of the questions I would just love to throw to all of you at the end is the framing of this discussion. I did one book about—sort of seen as development, and one was seen as defense. To me, they were exactly the same issues about communities that were standing up and speaking up for themselves.

We hosted an event at CFR on child marriage in fragile states. And every woman who walked in the door went to that. And there was simultaneously an event on the Quadrennial Defense Review, and every man who walked in the door went to that. And if you look at the issues, right, these are so many of the same conversations that are happening, but in separate rooms.

And Sarah, I know you’ve worked on the cross-border intersection, as have you, Nancy. How do you think of these issues, which are security and stability, and framing them in a way that has everybody who’s having these siloed conversations come into the same discussion, for the same goal of security and stability?


SEWALL: Well, first of all, I don’t think it’s helpful when our government’s framing of issues is siloed. And that’s a necessary, I think, corollary of the way institutions are set up. We all think very narrowly about the things that we can control and that we can name and that look like us.

You know, I think there’s a lot of lip service within the Department of Defense about climate, about gender, about whatever. I will tell you that, you know, in my three years as undersecretary of state for all these issues, the one thing I kept coming away from—and I focused largely on conflict in governance, and I would go to, you know, countries on every continent, and I would come back, and my make takeaway that I would say to my husband is, my God, nobody’s talking about family planning. And yet behind all of these abnormalities and challenges and problems that we forecast for the future, that’s, like, the central nub.

But, you know, you talk to, you know, Governor Shettima, who’s trying to deal with it in northern Nigeria, and he can’t even say the word because of cultural sensitivities. The best he can do, the closest he can do, is say we can talk about education for girls, because then maybe they’ll stay in school longer and maybe they won’t have children at quite such a young age and assume this dependency burden that our colleague just spoke about.

So for me, my whole gestalt is that these divisions are artificial. And yet I don’t know how, other than sort of Soviet-style central control, to force institutions to think outside of their comfort zones. So I just—I believe that the question for everyone needs to be—that there needs to be a broader venue for each individual piece to think about the anomalies and the outliers within each individual piece.

And—but it was very difficult to even get the State Department counterterrorism people to understand that they were doing human-rights work when they were trying to prevent violent extremism, and to get the human-rights people to understand that if they weren’t talking to militaries about how to train them on whatever it was—1325, 1625, you name it—that the militaries weren’t going to change their attitudes.

And so this is really—this is—and it’s reinforced by the academy. I mean, I’m back in the academy now, and it’s reinforced by specialization. Everybody in the room, be a generalist and ask questions that are the unconventional questions, because it’s the only way we’re going to get at where the problems can be solved.

GREENBERG: Go ahead.

LINDBORG: I completely agree. And I actually, in the summer of 2015, tri-chaired a study group with former Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns and former Undersecretary of DOD Michele Flournoy. And I come from of a development background, so it was deliberately the three Ds.

And we had about 35 senior advisers who were part of this, all formers from those sectors, looking specifically at how—what are the concrete recommendations for our government for how to begin to break down these stovepipes and create a shared consciousness of what the problem set is so that we can be more effective in tackling this core problem that is at the root of so many of these conflicts, which is, you know, the inability of states to meet the needs of their societies or the legitimacy of these governments.

There is some work going on right now within the administration. We also have increasingly at USIP worked with State, AID, and DOD to put together gaming scenarios for places like Lake Chad Basin, which are so complicated, as Sarah knows very well, to create a shared understanding of what are the drivers of these conflict and what might each of the actors, plus NGOs and the IO, the international organizations, how do you bring your shared capabilities together to tackle this? Because what we otherwise end up doing is sometimes not only not having a conversation together, but, in fact, undercutting each other’s efforts. And that’s the worst possible outcome that we need to address.

GREENBERG: Yeah. So there’s a lot of takeaways. You have—the panel has very well answered some of these questions. How far have we come? We’ve come from, you know—we being women—from victim to contributor, from supplicant to equal participant at the table. But it seems that there are still vast structural, cultural, socioeconomic issues to address. And so maybe we’ll have to come back next year. (Laughter.)

Thank you so much for joining us. (Applause.)


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