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Showing posts for "Conflict"

Holding Sudan to the Gold Standard

by Catherine Powell
Military personnel walk past women in Tabit village in North Darfur, Sudan. The joint peacekeeping mission in the region known as UNAMID visited Tabit in November 2014 to investigate media reports of an alleged mass rape of 200 women and girls (Courtesy Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah/Reuters). Military personnel walk past women in Tabit village in North Darfur, Sudan. The joint peacekeeping mission in the region known as UNAMID visited Tabit in November 2014 to investigate media reports of an alleged mass rape of 200 women and girls (Courtesy Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah/Reuters).

Although it may have slipped from headlines, the conflict in Sudan’s western region of Darfur has not disappeared. Indeed, the region has seen almost unabated violence for over a decade, notably spiking in January 2013. In February of this year, a Human Rights Watch report shed light on the violence, documenting mass rape and other atrocities committed by forces loyal to the Sudanese government from October 30 to November 1, 2014.

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Helping Afghan Women Help Themselves

by Catherine Powell
Shukria Barakzai, a member of parliament, hands out leaflets during her August 2005 election campaign in Kabul, Afghanistan. Barakzai later survived a suicide bombing attack in December 2014 (Courtesy Zohra Bensemra/Reuters). Shukria Barakzai, a member of parliament, hands out leaflets during her August 2005 election campaign in Kabul, Afghanistan. Barakzai later survived a suicide bombing attack in December 2014 (Courtesy Zohra Bensemra/Reuters).

Progress toward women’s rights and empowerment cannot be made without actors on the ground willing to fight for it. This is particularly true in Afghanistan as the United States begins to transition out of its on-the-ground presence and the Afghan government takes on more responsibility for security and stability. Local women’s rights movements will be more important than ever in ensuring Afghan women and girls maintain the strides they have made since the fall of the Taliban.

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

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

by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon
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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Female Police Face Danger in Afghanistan

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

by Catherine Powell
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
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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UN Reports Rising Attacks on Girls’ Education

by Catherine Powell
A girl reads from the board in a home-based school in Kabul, Afghanistan, December 2001 (Courtsey Damir Sagolj/Reuters). A girl reads from the board in a home-based school in Kabul, Afghanistan, December 2001 (Courtsey Damir Sagolj/Reuters).

Attacks on girls’ schools and female students have appeared in the headlines regularly in recent years, from the abduction of schoolgirls in Chibok, Nigeria, by Boko Haram to the assassination attempt on student and girls’ education activist Malala Yousafzai.

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Police Corruption: A Threat to Afghan Stability, a Threat to Afghan Women

by Catherine Powell
A policeman stands in front of a car window, which has been hit by a bullet, after clashes with protesters in Kabul, Afghanistan, January 31, 2015 (Courtesy Mohammad Ismail/Reuters). A policeman stands in front of a car window, which has been hit by a bullet, after clashes with protesters in Kabul, Afghanistan, January 31, 2015 (Courtesy Mohammad Ismail/Reuters).

This week, the New York Times reported that 32 officers of the Afghan National Police (ANP) in the Kunduz province are under suspicion in an ongoing investigation for corruption and ties to the Taliban. The report details harrowing crimes committed by police in Kunduz, including the kidnapping of children and rape of the citizens they are meant to protect.

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