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Showing posts for "Education"

Flawed and Unequal Justice in Pakistan

by Catherine Powell
Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai delivers a speech during the Nobel Peace Prize awards ceremony at the City Hall in Oslo, Norway, on December 10, 2014 (Cornelius Poppe/Reuters/NTB Scanpix/Pool). Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai delivers a speech during the Nobel Peace Prize awards ceremony at the City Hall in Oslo, Norway, on December 10, 2014 (Cornelius Poppe/Reuters/NTB Scanpix/Pool).

Earlier this month, Pakistani authorities revealed that eight of the ten men accused in the 2012 attack on Malala Yousafzai were acquitted, despite a previous announcement that all ten were sentenced to twenty-five years in prison. Malala’s case is especially remarkable considering she won the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize, recognizing her advocacy for girls’ education even after being shot in the head for her work.

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

by Catherine Powell
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
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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White House Launches New Girls’ Education Initiative

by Catherine Powell
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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Raising the Age of Marriage in Malawi

by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon
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
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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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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John Kerry and Pakistani Counterparts Must Look Beyond a Narrow Terror Framework

by Catherine Powell
Girls carry their school bags as they walk along a road while heading to their school after it reopened in Peshawar, Pakistan, on January 12, 2015 (Courtesy Reuters/Khuram Parvez). Girls carry their school bags as they walk along a road while heading to their school after it reopened in Peshawar, Pakistan, on January 12, 2015 (Courtesy Reuters/Khuram Parvez).

As Pakistan continues to reel from December’s horrific school attack, its government has initiated a crackdown on terror across the nation and instituted new security measures at schools. Last week, the Army Public School in Peshawar—site of the massacre that left over 150 dead—was reopened to students.

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Despite Pakistan School Attack, Malala’s Dream “Will Never Be Defeated”

by Catherine Powell
Schoolchildren cross a road as they move away from a military run school that is under attack by Taliban gunmen in Peshawar, Paksitan, December 16, 2014 (Courtesy Reuters/Khuram Parvez). Schoolchildren cross a road as they move away from a military run school that is under attack by Taliban gunmen in Peshawar, Paksitan, December 16, 2014 (Courtesy Reuters/Khuram Parvez).

This morning, Pakistani Taliban militants armed with guns and explosives stormed a school in Peshawar. After an eight-hour battle with security forces, over 140 students and teachers were dead. This terrorist attack is the largest Pakistan has seen since 2007—when 134 people were killed at a rally for former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. However, it is also part of a larger trend of Taliban attacks on Pakistani schools, school children, and teachers.

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