Women and Foreign Policy Program

Women’s Political Leadership

Project Expert

Linda Robinson
Linda Robinson

Senior Fellow for Women and Foreign Policy

About the Project

Elevating the status of women and girls has been demonstrated to advance global prosperity, stability, and security, yet the journey toward gender equality has been marked by fitful and incremental gains. Women’s political representation and leadership remains the area of greatest lag, despite notable success in some countries. The Project on Women’s Political Leadership examines the factors that account for progress as well as the impediments that are stalling progress. In addition to ongoing structural barriers and persistent bias, gains in women’s leadership and representation have been significantly affected by the worldwide erosion in democratic norms, rising authoritarianism, and growing online gender-based violence fueled by increasingly powerful artificial intelligence. The project examines the experiences of current women world leaders to understand the effects of these trends on political leaders, identify the components of effective policy responses, and assess the demonstration effect of contributions that women leaders are making to global peace and stability. Project activities include meetings, articles, government briefings, and a book. The project will include a blog series, "Women Leaders' Contributions to Foreign Policy," that will feature excerpts from interviews conducted as part of the book research. The project also maintains the program’s signature digital interactive, the Women’s Power Index, a robust five-indicator measure of women’s political leadership and representation, backed by ongoing analysis of relevant peer-reviewed research.

Events

Elections and Voting

As a record number of countries hold elections in 2024, panelists reflect on the substantive policy achievements of women political leaders, needed measures to achieve increased women’s leadership, and recommendations for bridging divides and governing effectively in a time of turmoil.  This meeting is part of the Council on Foreign Relations Roundtable Series on Women's Global Leadership.

Diamonstein-Spielvogel Project on the Future of Democracy

Women and Foreign Policy Program

Women and Women's Rights

Rising threats and online abuse affect political officials at the highest levels in many countries; studies have documented that women politicians are disproportionately targeted. Sigrid Kaag, deputy…

Americas

Sima Sami Bahous discusses women’s rights in areas of acute crisis and how UN Women is supporting gender equality and the empowerment of women around the world. The Sorensen Distinguished Lecture on the United Nations was established in 1996 by Gillian and Theodore C. Sorensen to highlight the United Nations and offer a special occasion for its most distinguished and experienced leaders to speak to the Council membership.

Blogs

Election 2024

The European Union (EU) began implementing the Digital Services Act (DSA) this year, just in time to combat online disinformation and other electoral interference in the dozens of elections taking pl…

Inequality

A discussion with Ambassador Rao Gupta on women’s political representation, violence against women, and new U.S. policy initiatives to advance gender equality and UN Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace, and Security.  

United States

The 2024 U.S. presidential election could be the first election clearly decided by women, in a landmark assertion of power by the majority.

Nigeria

The president of Women in Africa (WIA) Initiative, Hafsat Abiola, shares her experiences for International Women’s Day under the theme “Invest in women: Accelerate progress.”

United States

More than two years into his presidency, Joseph Biden has achieved some of his gender equality goals, and fallen short on others.

United States

Women made modest gains in representation in the 2022 Congressional midterms but the path for women's issues in the 118th Congress is uncertain.

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