Isobel Coleman

Democracy in Development

Coleman maps the intersections between political reform, economic growth, and U.S. policy in the developing world.

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Showing posts for "Women and Development"

Sexual Violence in India

by Isobel Coleman
Women hold placards as they march during a rally organized by Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit (unseen) protesting for justice and security for women, in New Delhi January 2, 2013. Women hold placards as they march during a rally organized by Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit (unseen) protesting for justice and security for women in New Delhi on January 2, 2013 (Adnan Abidi/Courtesy Reuters).

Shocked by a brutal rape case that has gripped the country, India is going through some soul-searching about its shameful mistreatment of women. Riot police lined the streets of Delhi the past few days to calm protesters who gathered in outrage as the body of the 23 year-old rape victim returned from Singapore where she had been transferred for emergency treatment. She suffered severe internal injuries after being gang-raped, beaten, and thrown naked from the bus she and her boyfriend tragically got on after seeing a movie on December 16. She died on Saturday and protesters have demanded the death penalty for the rapists. Read more »

Remarkable Women of 2012

by Isobel Coleman
Pakistani students stand next to a portrait of Malala Yousufzai as they attend a meeting organized by South Asian Women in media to mark "Malala Day" in Lahore, Pakistan, November 10, 2012 (Mohsin Raza/Courtesy Reuters). Pakistani students stand next to a portrait of Malala Yousufzai as they attend a meeting organized by South Asian Women in media to mark "Malala Day" in Lahore, Pakistan, November 10, 2012 (Mohsin Raza/Courtesy Reuters).

Among the many compelling stories of 2012 have been those of remarkable women fighting for rights and opportunities—for themselves, their communities, and their countries. In this post I highlight several such women and their courageous struggles. Read more »

Five Development Innovations to Watch in 2013

by Isobel Coleman
Children run alongside a rice paddy field outside the village of Andriampamaky, around 50 km (31 miles) north of Madagascar's capital city Antananarivo on April 21, 2012 (Darrin Zammit Lupi/Courtesy Reuters). Children run alongside a rice paddy field outside the village of Andriampamaky, around 50 km (31 miles) north of Madagascar's capital city Antananarivo on April 21, 2012 (Darrin Zammit Lupi/Courtesy Reuters).

Although this year had welcome news about poverty rates falling across the globe, almost two and a half billion people still get by on less than $2 a day. Innovative solutions for tackling global poverty are needed as much as ever. Here are five development innovations to watch in 2013: Read more »

Diversifying Global Supply Chains

by Isobel Coleman
People walk past a Walmart store with a banner reading "Low prices, every day, in everything" in Mexico City on April 21, 2012 (Courtesy Reuters). People walk past a Walmart store with a banner reading "Low prices, every day, in everything" in Mexico City on April 21, 2012 (Courtesy Reuters).

Women-owned businesses represent 32 to 39 percent of all private businesses worldwide, but reportedly receive less than one percent of procurement from both corporations and governments. (I say reportedly, because these numbers are very hard to verify. Still, even if the statistic is off by a factor of ten, women-owned businesses are still hugely underrepresented.) Read more »

The Ongoing Battle Over Egypt’s Constitution

by Isobel Coleman
Egyptian protesters demonstrate outside the presidential palace in Cairo, December 4, 2012 (Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Courtesy Reuters). Egyptian protesters demonstrate outside the presidential palace in Cairo, December 4, 2012 (Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Courtesy Reuters).

Egypt’s constitutional assembly pulled an all-nighter last week to hastily approve a controversial draft of a new constitution. However, the constitutional battle is far from over. Today, protests rocked the country, and a crowd of some 100,000 people staged a so-called “last warning” demonstration near the presidential palace against President Morsi’s heavy-handed tactics. In addition, hundreds of journalists marched on Tahrir and at least a dozen of the country’s independent newspapers did not publish to protest against Morsi’s “dictatorship.” Read more »

Female Leaders in North Africa

by Isobel Coleman
Moroccans attend a women's rights rally while holding placards reading "Stop abusing girls" in Rabat on February 20, 2012 (Youssef Boudlal/Courtesy Reuters). Moroccans attend a women's rights rally while holding placards reading "Stop abusing girls" in Rabat on February 20, 2012 (Youssef Boudlal/Courtesy Reuters).

Women have played an important role in spurring reform throughout the Middle East and North Africa. But as elections take place and constitutions are drafted, their rights are at risk of being sidelined.

This morning, I had the opportunity to host at the Council on Foreign Relations (audio available) two civil society leaders who are working to ensure that women’s rights have a central place in the new Middle East: Marianne Ibrahim from Egypt and Souad Slaoui from Morocco. They discussed initiatives in their home countries to empower women and girls, improve interfaith dialogues, and encourage positive policy changes to support human rights and international development. Read more »

Debate Over Egypt’s Draft Constitution

by Isobel Coleman
The members of Egypt's constitution committee meet in Cairo on September 11, 2012 (Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Courtesy Reuters). The members of Egypt's constitution committee meet in Cairo on September 11, 2012 (Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Courtesy Reuters).

Egypt is deep into the messy process of drafting its new constitution. In the past few weeks, two different drafts were released within days of each other. Not surprisingly, there are several areas of major contention. At the heart of the matter are profoundly different views between religious conservatives and secular liberals on such touchstone issues as freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and women’s rights. Read more »

Research to Improve Women’s Economic Potential

by Isobel Coleman
A woman and child sit in front of their stall in Sambizanga informal settlement outside Luanda, Angola on August 28, 2012 (Siphiwe Sibeko/Courtesy Reuters). A woman and child sit in front of their stall in the Sambizanga informal settlement outside Luanda, Angola on August 28, 2012 (Siphiwe Sibeko/Courtesy Reuters).

The benefits of improving women’s economic opportunities are clear: when women control income, they invest it in their families, particularly in the health and education of their children, helping to break cycles of poverty. Women also contribute to the economic growth of their communities. Research from McKinsey shows that since 1970, as women’s greater labor participation took off, their productivity has accounted for a quarter of U.S. GDP. In the developing world, women are estimated to own 40 to 50 percent of businesses. Read more »

Observing the International Day of the Girl

by Isobel Coleman
Students hold a placard during a rally in Peshawar, Pakistan on October 11, 2012 to condemn the attack on schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai (Fayaz Aziz/Courtesy Reuters). Students hold a placard during a rally in Peshawar, Pakistan on October 11, 2012 to condemn the attack on schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai (Fayaz Aziz/Courtesy Reuters).

Today is the United Nations’ first ever International Day of the Girl. The UN’s designation of this day reflects the growing awareness of the special challenges girls face around the world. It comes at a sober moment: just this week, the Taliban in Pakistan shot a 14 year-old schoolgirl, Malala Yousafzai, for her outspoken advocacy of girls’ education.  Although Malala survived the attack, she is in critical condition and the Taliban has vowed to finish the job if and when she leaves the hospital. Read more »

Women’s Rugby in Tunisia

by Isobel Coleman
The Tunisian women's rugby team on October 1, 2012 (Isobel Coleman). The Tunisian women's rugby team on October 1, 2012 (Isobel Coleman).

Yesterday, flying between Casablanca and Tunis, I found myself sitting amidst the Tunisian women’s national rugby team. (Who knew Tunisia has a women’s rugby team? To my surprise, apparently Morocco and Egypt also have women’s teams.) The Tunisian women competed over the weekend in Rabat to successfully qualify for the 2013 Rugby World Cup in Moscow. One young player told me that it was her goal to compete in the World Cup in 2013 and go on to represent Tunisia at the 2016 Olympics – the first time rugby will be played at the games since 1924 and the first time ever for women’s rugby. Read more »