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Showing posts for "Middle East and North Africa"

Barring Sexual Harassment and Protecting Speech in Iran

by Catherine Powell
A religious activist looks on while attending the Twenty-Fifth International Islamic Unity Conference in Tehran, Iran, February 2012 (Courtesy Reuters/Morteza Nikoubazl). A religious activist looks on while attending the Twenty-Fifth International Islamic Unity Conference in Tehran, Iran, February 2012 (Courtesy Reuters/Morteza Nikoubazl).

The recent spate of acid attacks in Isfahan, Iran, have left several Iranian women severely injured and some partially blind. Many Iranians are concerned that the women were targeted for “bad hijabs,” meaning their head scarves did not comply with a particular social standard of modesty. Though hardline and moderate politicians alike have condemned the attacks, arguments over the legal framework at play highlight the divisions within the Iranian government.

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Where Airstrikes Fall Short, the West Can Still Act to End Violence Against Women

by Guest Blogger for Gayle Tzemach Lemmon
A Shiite Muslim girl takes part in a candlelight protest against the ongoing conflict in Iraq, in New Delhi, India, July 2014 (Courtesy Reuters/Anindito Mukherjee). A Shiite Muslim girl takes part in a candlelight protest against the ongoing conflict in Iraq, in New Delhi, India, July 2014 (Courtesy Reuters/Anindito Mukherjee).

Emerging Voices features contributions from scholars and practitioners highlighting new research, thinking, and approaches to development challenges. This article is by Christina Asquith, a journalist who has covered women’s rights in the Middle East for ten years and the author of Sisters in War: A Story of Love, Family and Survival in the New Iraq.

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Yazidi Slave Markets Just the Latest Atrocity in the Syrian Conflict

by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon
A member of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent carries a Kurdish Syrian refugee girl to the first aid tent after crossing the Turkish-Syrian border near the southeastern town of Suruc in Sanliurfa province, Turkey, September 2014 (Courtesy Reuters/Murad Sezer). A member of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent carries a Kurdish Syrian refugee girl to the first aid tent after crossing the Turkish-Syrian border near the southeastern town of Suruc in Sanliurfa province, Turkey, September 2014 (Courtesy Reuters/Murad Sezer).

This week, reports of Yazidi women forced into marriage, raped, and sold as slaves to Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) fighters have spurred horror and outrage around the world. Human Rights Watch reports that these captives, some as young as ten or twelve, have been abducted from their families and been beaten into submitting to marriage to their captors. Read more »

UN Human Rights Council Calls for a Mission to Investigate ISIS Violations in Iraq

by Catherine Powell
Displaced people from the minority Yazidi sect, fleeing violence from forces loyal to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria in Sinjar town, walk towards the Syrian border, on the outskirts of Sinjar mountain, in Iraq, August 11, 2014 (Courtesy Reuters/Rodi Said). Displaced people from the minority Yazidi sect, fleeing violence from forces loyal to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria in Sinjar town, walk towards the Syrian border, on the outskirts of Sinjar mountain, in Iraq, August 11, 2014 (Courtesy Reuters/Rodi Said).

In the midst of an otherwise depressing news cycle on Iraq, the recent resolution out of Geneva from the UN Human Rights Council is a positive note. The resolution, adopted on Monday, requests the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to dispatch a fact finding mission to Iraq to investigate alleged human rights violations committed by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and associated terrorist groups. Read more »

The Status of Women and Girls in Iraq and Afghanistan

by Catherine Powell and Guest Blogger for Isobel Coleman
Veiled women walk past a billboard that carries a verse from Koran urging women to wear a hijab in the Islamic State-controlled northern province of Raqqa, Iraq, March 2014 (Courtesy Reuters/Stringer). Veiled women walk past a billboard that carries a verse from Koran urging women to wear a hijab in the Islamic State-controlled northern province of Raqqa, Iraq, March 2014 (Courtesy Reuters/Stringer).

This post is by Catherine Powell, fellow for CFR’s Women and Foreign Policy Program; and Amelia Wolf, research associate for CFR’s Center for Preventive Action and International Institutions and Global Governance Program.

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Segovia: A New Player in Cash Transfers

by Isobel Coleman
Customers are seen at mobile money transfers kiosks, known as M-Pesa agents, near Ngong township in the outskirts of Kenya's capital Nairobi, July 15, 2013 (Courtesy Reuters/Thomas Mukoya). Customers are seen at mobile money transfers kiosks, known as M-Pesa agents, near Ngong township in the outskirts of Kenya's capital Nairobi, July 15, 2013 (Courtesy Reuters/Thomas Mukoya).

For several years now I’ve been following the progress of an innovative new philanthropy: GiveDirectly. Its cofounders, Michael Faye and Paul Niehaus, started the organization in 2008 while doing their PhD’s in economics at Harvard. Their idea was simple. Given mounting evidence that cash transfers are among the most efficient and effective ways to address poverty (and that the poor know very well what to do with money), why not start a charity that skips the rigmarole of providing services to poor people in poor countries and just gives them cash?

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World Bank Report on Women’s Empowerment Breaks New Ground

by Isobel Coleman
Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim, and Council on Foreign Relations Senior Fellow Isobel Coleman participate in an event on empowering woman and girls at the World Bank in Washington, D.C., May 14, 2014 (Courtesy Reuters/Jonathan Ernst). Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim, and Council on Foreign Relations Senior Fellow Isobel Coleman participate in an event on empowering woman and girls at the World Bank in Washington, D.C., May 14, 2014 (Courtesy Reuters/Jonathan Ernst).

Over the past several decades, the World Bank has been an important thought leader on the value of investing in women and girls. In 2001, the Bank released a seminal report, “Engendering Development – Through Gender Equality in Rights, Resources, and Voice,” which made the incontrovertible case that investing in girls’ education and other aspects of female empowerment is critical for poverty alleviation. More recently, in 2012, the Bank devoted its annual World Development Report to women and girls, highlighting that, despite gains, gender gaps persist and greater gender equality is critical to growth.

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Women Starting Up the Middle East

by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon
A woman films with her iPad in Bahrain, January 2012 (Courtesy Reuters/Hamad I Mohammed). A woman films with her iPad in Bahrain, January 2012 (Courtesy Reuters/Hamad I Mohammed).

Every year, the World Economic Forum publishes its Global Gender Gap Report, tracking the world’s progress toward eliminating gender inequality. This year’s report, published in October, included some good news: in the nearly 140 countries counted, more than 90 percent of the divide in health and education has been closed. Still, there remains a huge gender gap in economic participation, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, where men are 60 percent more economically empowered than women.

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Is a Start-Up Spring Coming to the Middle East?

by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon
Young entrepreneurs at Oasis 500, a seed investment firm based in Amman, Jordan that finances start-ups in the Middle East, November 2011. (Courtesy Reuters/Muhammad Hamed). Young entrepreneurs at Oasis 500, a seed investment firm based in Amman, Jordan that finances start-ups in the Middle East, November 2011. (Courtesy Reuters/Muhammad Hamed).

The Middle East is seldom associated with the start-up world. When thinking of the region, few imagine entrepreneurs working away, hustling to secure funding and find customers for their fledgling businesses. But that image is increasingly a reality. Read more »

New Insights on the Relationship Between Democracy and Wealth

by Terra Lawson-Remer
Protesters in Cairo rally against Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, February 22, 2013 (Asmaa Waguih/Courtesy Reuters). Protesters in Cairo rally against Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, February 22, 2013 (Asmaa Waguih/Courtesy Reuters).

Do the chances of democracy’s success in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, or Myanmar depend on each country’s wealth? And does China’s growing prosperity portend a democratic transition there anytime soon?

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