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Showing posts for "Women and Foreign Policy"

Child Marriage in Latin America

by Rachel Vogelstein
Flower girls wait next to the bride's carriage before a wedding ceremony on Paqueta island in Rio de Janeiro Flower girls wait next to the bride's carriage before a wedding ceremony on Paqueta island in Rio de Janeiro, September 14, 2013. The island, which located about 15 km (9 miles) from the city of Rio de Janeiro in Guanabara Bay, is an auto-free zone where residents are able to live in a relax environment away from the intense urban life of the city. REUTERS/Pilar Olivares

Over the past decade, world leaders and practitioners alike have increasingly recognized that the practice of child marriage undermines development and stability. This is especially true in regions like sub-Saharan Africa, where Niger claims the highest rate of child marriage globally—at 75 percent—as well as in South Asia, where India is home to about one third of the world’s known child brides. Less common, however, are efforts to combat this practice in Latin America, despite high numbers in the region: According to a report launched in July by Promundo, a Brazil-based non-governmental organization (NGO), Brazil is ranked fourth in the world in terms of absolute numbers of girls married or co-habitating by age fifteen. More than 870 thousand women ages twenty to twenty-four years are married by age fifteen, and about three million—or 36 percent—will be married by eighteen.

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Underground Railroad to Save Yazidi Women from the Islamic State Could Offer Critical Intel

by Catherine Powell
Yazidi refugees stand behind fences as they wait for the arrival of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Special Envoy Angelina Jolie at a Syrian and Iraqi refugee camp in the southern Turkish town of Midyat in Mardin province, June 20, 2015 (Umit Bektas/Reuters).

It has been nearly a year since the self-proclaimed Islamic State kidnapped an estimated three thousand Yazidi women and children during an attack on their villages in northern Iraq. The Islamic State views these attacks, kidnappings, and killings as justifiable because they consider the Yazidi people—a religious minority group—infidels and devil-worshipers.

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Innovation in Development

by Rachel Vogelstein
Pregnant women holding their prescription papers wait to be examined at a government-run hospital in the northeastern Indian city of Agartala March 17, 2015. India is betting on cheap mobile phones to cut some of the world's highest rates of maternal and child deaths, as it rolls out a campaign of voice messages delivering health advice to pregnant women and mothers. Amid a scarcity of doctors and public hospitals, India is relying on its mobile telephone network, the second largest in the world with 950 million connections, to reach places where health workers rarely go. REUTERS/Jayanta Dey Pregnant women holding their prescription papers wait to be examined at a government-run hospital in the northeastern Indian city of Agartala March 17, 2015. India is betting on cheap mobile phones to cut some of the world's highest rates of maternal and child deaths, as it rolls out a campaign of voice messages delivering health advice to pregnant women and mothers. Amid a scarcity of doctors and public hospitals, India is relying on its mobile telephone network, the second largest in the world with 950 million connections, to reach places where health workers rarely go. REUTERS/Jayanta Dey

Amidst final negotiations over the Sustainable Development Goals, both private and public sector development funders are turning their attention to the gap between this ambitious agenda and available resources. Last week, government, business, and NGO representatives gathered in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for the Third Financing for Development Conference to devise ways to support this new development agenda. One proposal is to support innovation to fuel cost-effective approaches to development.

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Can the Chibok Girls Be Held Accountable for Boko Haram’s Atrocities?

by Catherine Powell
Children rescued from Boko Haram in Sambisa forest react at a clinic at the internally displaced people's camp in Yola, Nigeria, May 2015 (Afolabi Sotunde/Reuters). Children rescued from Boko Haram in Sambisa forest react at a clinic at the internally displaced people's camp in Yola, Nigeria, May 2015 (Afolabi Sotunde/Reuters).

It has been nearly fifteen months since Boko Haram abducted nearly three hundred girls from a secondary school in Chibok, Nigeria, sparking the #BringBackOurGirls campaign on Twitter. Since then, reports have surfaced that the girls have been sold, forcibly converted to Islam, and married to terrorist group members. Dozens of the girls managed to escape, but despite efforts to secure the release of the remaining 219 captives, no agreement has come through.

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Gender Equality and the Sustainable Development Goals

by Rachel Vogelstein
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon speaks during a closing ceremony of the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development summit in Rio de Janeiro June 22, 2012. Ueslei Marcelino/Courtesy Reuters UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon speaks during a closing ceremony of the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development summit in Rio de Janeiro June 22, 2012. Ueslei Marcelino/Courtesy Reuters

This year—2015—is an auspicious moment for global development. In September, as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) expire, UN member states will adopt a new framework that will guide international development over the next fifteen years. In advance of the fall summit on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)—as well as the upcoming Third International Financing for Development Conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia—I hosted Thomas Gass, assistant secretary-general for policy coordination and inter-agency affairs at the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, and Ambassador Elizabeth Cousens, deputy chief executive officer at the United Nations Foundation and former U.S. chief negotiator on the SDGs, to discuss gender equality and the future of the international development agenda.

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Progress on Implementing UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace, and Security

by Catherine Powell
Afghan National Army (ANA) female officers take part in a training exercise at the Kabul Military Training Centre (KMTC) in Kabul, October 8, 2013. (Omar Sobhani/Reuters) Afghan National Army (ANA) female officers take part in a training exercise at the Kabul Military Training Centre (KMTC) in Kabul, October 8, 2013. (Omar Sobhani/Reuters)

This year marks the fifteenth anniversary of UN Security Council Resolution 1325, a landmark resolution recognizing the importance of women as leaders in the peace and security sector, not merely as victims of conflict. I recently hosted Nahla Valji—the head of women, peace, and security work at UN Women—to discuss international progress on the resolution and the U.S. role in its implementation.

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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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Gender Equality at the G7 Summit

by Rachel Vogelstein
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, U.S. President Barack Obama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande, and British Prime Minister David Cameron (L-R) prepare for a family photo during their meeting at the hotel castle Elmau in Kruen, Germany, June 7, 2015 (Christian Hartmann/Reuters). Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, U.S. President Barack Obama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande, and British Prime Minister David Cameron (L-R) prepare for a family photo during their meeting at the hotel castle Elmau in Kruen, Germany, June 7, 2015 (Christian Hartmann/Reuters).

As the annual Group of Seven (G7) Summit ended this week, world leaders issued a declaration to address some of the world’s most pressing issues. Prominently featured in this document is a call to promote women’s economic empowerment and entrepreneurship, described as a “key driver of innovation, growth, and jobs.”

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Reframing the Conversation: Inclusive Security

by Catherine Powell
Female members of a Philippine peacekeeping force bound for Liberia stand at attention during a send-off ceremony at the military headquarters in Manila, January 2009 (Romeo Ranoco/Reuters). Female members of a Philippine peacekeeping force bound for Liberia stand at attention during a send-off ceremony at the military headquarters in Manila, January 2009 (Romeo Ranoco/Reuters).

This fall marks both the fifteenth anniversary of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace, and security and the twentieth anniversary of the Beijing Platform for Action: two momentous and pivotal moments for women and women’s rights. Among other things, these two documents called for women to be included in decision making and leadership positions. Resolution 1325 in particular demands that women be viewed not only as victims of war, but also as agents of change—leaders in peacemaking, peacekeeping, and peacebuilding.

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Abenomics Is Womenomics

by Rachel Vogelstein
Japanese college graduates attend a pep rally in Tokyo designed to boost their morale as they break into the job market, February 2015 (Thomas Peter/Reuters). Japanese college graduates attend a pep rally in Tokyo designed to boost their morale as they break into the job market, February 2015 (Thomas Peter/Reuters).

On his visit to the United States last month, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe spoke about his plan for economic growth, known colloquially as “Abenomics.” His plan comes at a crucial time: Japan’s economic prospects are far from favorable, especially when coupled with the country’s projected demographic decline. By 2060, Japan’s total population is expected to shrink by 30 percent, and the elderly population is expected to grow to a whopping 40 percent. At the same time, Japan’s GDP is forecast to grow just 0.8 percent in 2015, as compared to 3.1 percent in the United States.

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