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Development Channel

Issues and innovations in global economic development

India as Regional Power: Promoting Women’s Rights in Afghanistan

by Catherine Powell Monday, April 20, 2015
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi (L) speaks as Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani watches during the opening session of 18th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit in Kathmandu, Nepal, on November 26, 2014 (Courtesy Narendra Shrestha/Pool/Reuters). India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi (L) speaks as Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani watches during the opening session of 18th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit in Kathmandu, Nepal, on November 26, 2014 (Courtesy Narendra Shrestha/Pool/Reuters).

Last month’s decision by President Obama to extend the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan is an important step in securing the substantial American investment there. This extension—which is and should be temporary—is crucial to allow the Afghan government and security forces to build their capacity to maintain stability on the ground.

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Mr. Ghani Goes to Washington

by Catherine Powell Friday, March 27, 2015
Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani (L) shakes hands with U.S. President Barack Obama after their joint news conference at the White House in Washington, DC, March 24, 2015 (Courtesy Jonathan Ernst/Reuters). Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani (L) shakes hands with U.S. President Barack Obama after their joint news conference at the White House in Washington, DC, March 24, 2015 (Courtesy Jonathan Ernst/Reuters).

This week, during the Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s White House visit, U.S. President Barack Obama announced that he will delay the schedule for U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan and current troop levels will be maintained through the end of 2015. While I have reservations about the use of U.S. military power abroad more generally, a brief extension of the American military presence in Afghanistan makes sense to secure the substantial U.S. investment there.

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Building the Obamas’ Legacy: Expanding the Peace Corps to Advance Girls’ Education

by Catherine Powell Wednesday, March 25, 2015
U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama gestures during a visit to promote girls' education and the “Let Girls Learn” initiative at Hun Sen Prasaat Bankong high school on the outskirts of Siem Reap, Cambodia, March 2015 (Courtesy Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters). U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama gestures during a visit to promote girls' education and the “Let Girls Learn” initiative at Hun Sen Prasaat Bankong high school on the outskirts of Siem Reap, Cambodia, March 2015 (Courtesy Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters).

“When girls get educated—when they learn to read and write and think—that gives them the tools to speak up and to talk about injustice, and to demand equal treatment. It helps them participate in the political life of their country and hold their leaders accountable, call for change when their needs and aspirations aren’t being met.” These were the words of First Lady Michelle Obama as she addressed Peace Corps volunteers in Cambodia last weekend, part of her trip to promote the administration’s Let Girls Learn program.

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Removing the Silos Around Girls’ Education, National Security, and Child Marriage

by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon Thursday, March 19, 2015
Girls take the final examination of their primary school in Sanaa, Yemen, June 2013 (Courtesy Khaled Abdullah/Reuters). Girls take the final examination of their primary school in Sanaa, Yemen, June 2013 (Courtesy Khaled Abdullah/Reuters).

In the lead up to the announcement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals in September, I had the opportunity to host a conversation with Julia Gillard, chair of the Global Partnership for Education and former prime minister of Australia, at the Council on Foreign Relations.

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Hillary Clinton: Glass Ceilings, Sticky Floors, and Broken Ladders to Equal Opportunity

by Catherine Powell Thursday, March 12, 2015
Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (R) speaks on-stage with her daughter, Chelsea Clinton, and Melinda Gates (L) at the launch of the Clinton Foundation’s "No Ceilings: The Full Participation Report" in New York, March 9, 2015 (Courtesy Reuters/Lucas Jackson). Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (R) speaks on-stage with her daughter, Chelsea Clinton, and Melinda Gates (L) at the launch of the Clinton Foundation’s "No Ceilings: The Full Participation Report" in New York, March 9, 2015 (Courtesy Reuters/Lucas Jackson).

On International Women’s Day this past Monday, I attended the release of the Clinton Foundation’s No Ceilings: The Full Participation Report, which Hillary Clinton launched alongside Melinda Gates and Chelsea Clinton. Building off the momentum generated at the UN Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995, the No Ceilings report uses data collected over the last twenty years to note both the gains and gaps in women and girls’ participation globally.

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White House Launches New Girls’ Education Initiative

by Catherine Powell Friday, March 6, 2015
The Obamas will take their enthusiasm for education—illustrated here at the Capital City Public Charter School (Lower School), Washington, in February 2009—to reach adolescent girls abroad (Courtesy Larry Downing/Reuters). The Obamas will take their enthusiasm for education—illustrated here at the Capital City Public Charter School (Lower School), Washington, in February 2009—to reach adolescent girls abroad (Courtesy Larry Downing/Reuters).

Two weeks ago, I posted a United Nations report on the increasing frequency of attacks on girls’ education around the world and called on the U.S. government to increase investment in education abroad. The White House, it seems, was thinking along the same lines, and on Tuesday they announced a new initiative titled Let Girls Learn.

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Female Police Face Danger in Afghanistan

by Catherine Powell Wednesday, March 4, 2015
A female Afghan National Police (ANP) officer gives instructions during a patrol training session, at a training center near the German Bundeswehr army camp in Kunduz, northern Afghanistan, December 2012 (Courtesy Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters). A female Afghan National Police (ANP) officer gives instructions during a patrol training session, at a training center near the German Bundeswehr army camp in Kunduz, northern Afghanistan, December 2012 (Courtesy Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters).

As Afghanistan works to maintain stability in the wake of the U.S. drawdown, I have consistently written about the unique challenges faced by women and girls in the changing security landscape. One strategy that I—and other commentators on Afghanistan—have called for to ensure the safety of women and girls and the continued expansion of women’s rights is the greater inclusion of women in the Afghan police force.

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Raising the Age of Marriage in Malawi

by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon Monday, March 2, 2015
Children play at a school roughly 50 km south of Malawi's capital Lilongwe, March 2009 (Courtesy Antony Njuguna/Reuters). Children play at a school roughly 50 km south of Malawi's capital Lilongwe, March 2009 (Courtesy Antony Njuguna/Reuters).

Last week, the government of Malawi took a big step toward protecting its girls and strengthening its families: it increased the legal age of marriage to eighteen. Previously, girls in Malawi were allowed to marry at sixteen or, with parental consent, at fifteen.

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White House Summit Embraces Women’s Rights to Counter Violent Extremism

by Catherine Powell Wednesday, February 25, 2015
U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during the White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism in Washington, DC, February 2015 (Courtesy Joshua Roberts/Reuters). U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during the White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism in Washington, DC, February 2015 (Courtesy Joshua Roberts/Reuters).

Last week, the White House sponsored an international summit on strategies to counter violent extremism (CVE), focusing on groups such as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and al-Qaeda. Among the strategies suggested to mitigate radicalization, President Obama listed an increased emphasis on human rights and democracy: “That means free elections where people can choose their own future, and independent judiciaries that uphold the rule of law, and police and security forces that respect human rights, and free speech and freedom for civil society groups.”

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Five Ways to Engage the Private Sector in Countering Violent Extremism

by Guest Blogger for Gayle Tzemach Lemmon Monday, February 23, 2015
A masked man speaking in what is believed to be a North American accent in a video released by Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants in September 2014 is pictured in this still frame from video obtained by Reuters (Courtesy Reuters/FBI/Handout via Reuters). A masked man speaking in what is believed to be a North American accent in a video released by Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants in September 2014 is pictured in this still frame from video obtained by Reuters (Courtesy Reuters/FBI/Handout via Reuters).

Emerging Voices features contributions from scholars and practitioners highlighting new research, thinking, and approaches to development challenges. This article is by Dr. Khalid Koser, executive director of the Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund (GCERF) and a nonresident senior fellow in foreign policy at the Brookings Institution.

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