Archive for the ‘student post’ Category

The Hillary Doctrine:Sex and American Foreign Policy, To the day that the Hillary Doctrine becomes “unremarkable”

Monday, June 29th, 2015

by student contributor Laura Kilbury


On the 24th at the Woodrow Wilson Center, Valerie Hudon and Patricia Leidl discussed their new book, The Hillary Doctrine: Sex & American Foreign Policy, and its paramount importance for the United States in junction with national security priorities.

During her confirmation hearing to become secretary of state, Hillary Clinton told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in no uncertain terms, “I want to pledge to you that as secretary of state I view women’s issues as central to our foreign policy, not as adjunct or auxiliary or in any way lesser than all of the other issues that we have to confront.”

The “doctrine” comes from a proposition that Clinton made at the TEDWomen Conference in December 2010: “The subjugation of women is, therefore, a threat to the common security of our world and to the national security of our country.” In countries where women are chronically mistreated, or systematically excluded from leadership roles, there tends to be far greater state fragility, outbreaks and reoccurrences of conflict, and environments where extremists can flourish, including even terrorist organizations.

Research for the book began in 2010, and the content was largely written in 2013, after Hudson’s co- author Patricia Leidl completed fieldwork in several countries. Hudson emphasized the role that qualitative data played in their research. Data on cultural norms, customs, practices and laws were missing from the current research, so Hudson and Leidl created a massive database to fill this niche. One might wonder why the idea that women’s security affects national security is called the Hillary Doctrine. Hudson explained that though Clinton was the third female Secretary of State, she was the first woman in that role who made women’s issue priorities for the Department. The book, though not about Secretary Clinton herself, explores the effects that her belief in this idea has had on American foreign policy.

The first part of the book—based on interviews with government officials like Swanee Hunt, Andrew Natsios, Paula Dobriansky, and Melanne Verveer—consists of a helpful history of how women’s issues became prominent in U.S. foreign policymaking during the 1990s. This included milestones like UN Security Council Resolution 1325, the first resolution to address the disproportionate and unique impact of armed conflict on women, as well as the role of women in conflict prevention and resolution; the publication of the first U.S. National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security; and the difficulties and haphazard manner that the military and USAID have experienced in incorporating women’s issues into foreign operations.

The second section focuses on the theory and cases that explore whether the Hillary Doctrine is justified. Hudson discussed that her past research reveals the doctrine is in fact based on a solid premise. She presented the theoretical argument for what she and Leidl termed fempolitik, arguing that the realization that women’s security is closely linked to national security is a pillar of clear- eyed realpolitik. This then provides an argument that contends that that male-female relationships are a foundational issue, while poverty, explosive violence, ill health and other widespread problems are the macro consequences of women’s insecurity.

The third and last section of the book focuses on the implementation of the Hillary Doctrine from 2009-2013. Jen Klein, advisor to Secretary Clinton on global women’s issues, explained in an interview for the book that the State Department adopted four initial principles to guide their work on women. These principles stated that their work (1) would be non-partisan, (2) would not impose U.S. views or laws on others (indeed, the policies focused on the agenda enshrined in CEDAW, which the U.S. has not ratified), (3) must be based in evidence, even though the Department also thought it was the right thing to do, and (4) must demonstrate that the benefits created by such policies also apply to national security, not just women’s security. Though these principles were paired with strategic frameworks from major government organizations, Leidl explained that the disconnect between high-level policy and the actual work on the ground manifested itself in a fairly predictable fashion, citing some terribly ineffective initiatives.

At the end of the event, Leidl and Hudson noted some of the top priorities moving forward in a “to do list” fashion. These included using the bully pulpit to discuss women’s issues, developing hard targets and performance benchmarks on women’s inclusion, focusing on male accountability, and adding a jus ex bello element to the just war theory, one that focuses on the harms after war has ended that disproportionately affect women.

The authors then (with a confirming laugh in the room) eminently said that that the most important and elusive ingredient for implementing the Hillary Doctrine “can only come from the White House itself.” If a President Hillary Clinton is sworn into office on January 20, 2017, then there will be no more bureaucratic hurdles preventing the fuller implementation of the Hillary Doctrine. Would we learn if it isindeed a rhetoric, or the basis upon which U.S. foreign policy is developed and implemented?

At the end of the event, Hudson made a final and provoking note, “Here’s to the day the Hillary Doctrine becomes unremarkable.”

What will it mean in the future when it is the norm to look at our national security through a genderedlens? When placing women at the forefront of a national security agenda is the way to look at things that is when the Hillary Doctrine will persist.


Smart Women, Smart Power: Townsend

Monday, June 22nd, 2015

by student contributor Laura Kilbury


A common face on CNN, Fran Townsend, former Homeland Security and counterterrorism adviser to President George W. Bush, spoke candidly Thursday evening at CSIS’s Smart Women, Smart Power conversations series.

Townsend’s rise is particularly shiny when one looks into her childhood. She was the first person in her family to graduate high school. Her mother was a bookkeeper and her father was a roofer. When Townsend graduated from law school, her mother received her GED. Townsend had no knowledge up to that point that her mother hadn’t graduated from high school.

Townsend came to the White House from the U. S. Coast Guard, where she had served as the first Assistant Commandant for Intelligence. Prior to that, Townsend spent 13 years at the U. S. Department of Justice under the administrations of President H.W. Bush, President Bill Clinton and President George W. Bush.  She served in a variety of senior positions including as Counsel to the Attorney General for Intelligence Policy. Townsend began her prosecutorial career in 1985, serving as an Assistant District Attorney in Brooklyn, New York.

Being the first woman to be the director of Homeland Security, Nina Easton, the moderator, asked Townsend if she “felt the burden?”

“I had to be right every day”, Townsend responded.

The post 9/11 era of counterterrorism has given Townsend a unique and valuable perspective in the field of international and national security. A perspective that she admits as, “provocative”. She believes that we need to take the situation with ISIS “more seriously” and that we need a “strategy”. Noting that the thing that makes ISIS “dangerous” is their ability to mobilize and recruit others, including women, to their cause.

As Townsend discussed the victories and shortcomings of the U.S.’s policies regarding terrorism and security, there was one vital point missing from the conversation. The subjugation of women is a threat to general security of the world and to our own national security. When one looks at the countries that our nation deems a security threat, there is a common theme: the systematic oppression of women.

The ultimate purpose of the Smart Women, Smart Power series is to shed light on prominent and inspiring women and the achievements they have garnered. These women are successful and bright, and more importantly, they give hope that more women can share in these roles.

Until we put women and the forefront of our national security agenda, instability in states will perpetuate. The moment that we realize that the security of women equals the security of the world, we will see no progress in the fight against terror.

Melinda Gates: Smart Women, Smart Power

Tuesday, May 26th, 2015

It’s Good to be Uncomfortable

by student contributor Laura Kilbury


Melinda GatesOn May 20, The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) welcomed Melinda Gates to the center’s ongoing discussion series, “Smart Women, Smart Power”. CSIS started this program on December 8, 2014 as an initiative to intensify the voices of leading women in the realms of foreign policy, national security, and international business.

Melinda Gates appeared on stage for a 90-minute interview Tuesday May 20, at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, as part of the CSIS-Fortune, “Smart Women Smart Power” series. Gates revealed steps the Gates Foundation, of which she is Co-Chair of, is currently taking to realign its vast resources to make investment in women and girls a top priority. “We are making strides for women and girls, but not on a global scale,” she said.

While Melinda Gates working in tandem with the Gates Foundation is making major strides for women in countries around the world, it is necessary to look at the strides Gates has made in the United States as a woman in technology.

Melinda French Gates grew up in Dallas—one of four children—with a homemaker mother who regretted never going to college and an aerospace engineer father. Gates’ father was progressive for the time. Her father valued having women on his teams, saying that his team “did better” when women were playing an integral part. She joined a computer science club at her Catholic girls school. “I love logic,” she says. “Computer science to me was like a puzzle. I like the logic of it and working your way through.”

In the discussion Gates talked about how computer science has a way of making one feel “uncomfortable”. However, she quickly said, “It’s good to be uncomfortable”.

Her parents, determined to send all four kids away to college, ran a real estate company on the side so they could afford tuition. Melinda and her sister were assigned to keep the books on their Apple 3 computer and painted the company’s rental properties on weekends. “I learned the flows of money, profit and loss. I knew what my parents bought [the homes] for and hoped to get,” she recalled. When she attended Duke, she added an MBA to her computer science and economics degrees—and made a speedy climb up the Microsoft ladder for nine years.

Gates was originally tracked for a job at IBM, but a recruiter steered her elsewhere. “I had a standing offer with IBM in Dallas,” Gates recalled. “I had turned down all the other companies except one.” That company was Microsoft.

Gates says the IBM hiring manager “stopped me dead in my tracks and asked, ‘Do you want my advice? IBM has a fantastic career track, but you have to go up each ladder of the chain.” Microsoft, said the recruiter, is a young, rapidly growing company with the promise of faster advancement for women.

She took the Microsoft MSFT-1.10% job—and history was made. and now—a quarter century later—she is co-steering a $42.3 billion foundation widely recognized as a game-changer in global poverty.

That effort will include a renewed effort to disperse contraception, though the foundation will not fund abortion. “I believe in and use contraceptives,” said the devout Catholic, who called family planning “vital in developing countries.”

In the wide-ranging conversation, Gates defended genetically-modified crops—increasingly the target of protests here and in Europe—as critical to eradicating hunger in poor countries. She also criticized the anti-vaccine movement and offered this positive bit of news: “We are getting very close in polio eradication. This would be an amazing success in global health.”

Melinda Gates took her first trip to Africa when she became engaged to Bill Gates. The journey was meant to be a fun and adventurous safari with other couples, but ended up offering inspiration and a life lesson.

“We loved the animals and the savannah, but you couldn’t help but ask questions—like why whole towns were shut down,” she says. In a Maasai cooking tent, the group bonded with villagers so well that one young man asked: “Can you come back in a few weeks? We are going to have a cutting ceremony for my sister.”

“We were all devastated” by the reference to genital mutilation, Gates says. “It made me realize I knew nothing about that culture. It started Bill and me on a series of learning journeys and questions.”

Now, though, she plans to double down on the poverty-eradicating bet they made 15 years ago. They argue that over the next 15 years, the lives of people in poor countries will improve more than at any other time in history. “When I look at Africa, I don’t just see the destitute stories,” Melinda Gates says. “I focus on the ingenuity and change of the communities.”

DC event recap: Global Security and Gender–Lessons from Sweden’s Foreign Policy

Monday, February 2nd, 2015


Global Security and Gender: Lessons from Sweden’s Foreign Policy

by student contributor Hannah Stambaugh

Sweden’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Margot Wallström, has announced that Sweden will be the world’s first country to pursue a feminist foreign policy. On January 28th, Minister Wallström spoke about Sweden’s groundbreaking new policy agenda at the United States Institute for Peace (USIP), an event co-sponsored by the Swedish Embassy in DC. In her keynote address, Wallström emphasized that Sweden would be actively integrating gender into “all aspects of foreign policy.”

Margot Wallström, a leading member of the Swedish Social Democratic Party, has served as Sweden’s Minister of Foreign Affairs since 2014. Amongst her notable past positions, she has served as Minister of Culture and Minister of Social Affairs, has served as a member of Parliament, and has served as Special Representative to the UN Secretary-General on Sexual Violence and Conflict. Throughout her career, she has championed women’s rights and wider human rights.

An Wednesday’s event, Wallström outlined the “what” and the “how” of a feminist foreign policy. A feminist agenda is not just a women’s agenda, “it is a wider human rights and security agenda,” she asserted.


Event Recap: Designing Global Measures for Women’s Economic Empowerment

Monday, November 17th, 2014

by student contributor Laura Kilburylinda scott

Many benefits are expected to ensue from programs for women. Professor Linda Scott from the University of Oxford addressed the challenges she has observed in trying to design programs and measurements for women’s empowerment at the “Designing Global Measures for Women’s Economic Empowerment” hosted by The World Bank Group Gender Team and SME Finance Forum. Professor Scott has been involved in many impressive efforts to create and evaluate support systems for female entrepreneurs. These experiences have given her a distinguished perspective on the state of affairs in women’s entrepreneurship support.

In her discussion, Professor Scott discussed the challenges of measuring the actual results of programs focused on women’s empowerment. For Scott, thinking critically about women’s entrepreneurship in developing and developed countries holds positive implications for family wellbeing, community viability, and national prosperity. Facilitating women’s entrepreneurship is a tactic for economic development as it produces a “ripple effect” that manifests in a greater trajectory than just focusing on men’s incomes. Scott supports this statement by pointing out that in the community, women invest their earnings in children and the community itself, which then produces a greater and more significant change. Scott also focused on private sector efforts, which includes her work building the measurement system for Walmart’s Empowering Women Together program.


Gender mainstreaming as an urban policy tool: Best practices from Vienna, Austria

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

By guest contributor Josh Doherty

Stephansplatz and Graben street, Vienna Austria. Photo via Marek Ślusarczyk

Stephansplatz and Graben street, Vienna Austria. Photo via Marek Ślusarczyk

As highlighted recently in an article in The Atlantic, the city of Vienna, Austria has been incorporating the concept of gender mainstreaming into its urban planning policy since the early 1990s. Over the last two decades, officials have been attempting to provide equal access to the city’s resources and ensure that laws, rules, and regulations benefit both men and women equally.

Some examples of specific measures that the city has taken include high quality lighting in parks and along streets and ensuring that the city’s budget is fairly distributed across the genders. The city provides more detail of its model on the local government’s website.

UN Habitat provides a summary of the 23-year history of Vienna’s gender-mainstreaming efforts that details how the city has shared its experiences with others in order to promote the use of gender mainstreaming in other cities. As cities across the U.S. struggle with managing budget constraints and attempt to revitalize fragile economies by attracting new residents and investment, could incorporating Vienna’s gender mainstreaming lessons help constituents and the bottom line?

Photo courtesy of Josh Doherty

Photo courtesy of Josh Doherty


Joshua Doherty is an M.A. candidate in International Affairs and J.D. candidate in the Elliott School of International Affairs and the George Washington University Law School.

Why it Matters: Entrepreneurship and challenges for women in Iran

Wednesday, November 6th, 2013

By student contributor Asthaa Chaturvedi

Maryam Abolfazli at a Global Gender Program event about the prospects for women under Rouhani's presidency. Photo by Asthaa Chaturvedi.

Maryam Abolfazli (center) at a Global Gender Program event about the prospects for women under Rouhani’s presidency. Photo by Asthaa Chaturvedi.

Iran makes headlines weekly in the U.S., especially in the context of international security negotiations and constant speculation about President Rouhani’s political agenda. There are other stories however, and one of them is the evolving role of women in Iranian society. Recently I had the chance to talk to Maryam Abolfazli, Middle East and North Africa Director for the Eurasia Foundation, about one particular aspect of the road to empowerment for women in Iran for our interview series.

Some of the many programs she oversees as the MENA Director of Eurasia Foundation, include women’s entrepreneurship, and civic education, and family law operations with regional partners. In the context of Iran, there are many challenges for women who want to advance their careers and take part in the decision-making process in the private and public sectors. Our conversation focused on the Eurasia Foundation’s efforts to support women entrepreneurs in the country. “Women are forced to negotiate or compromise on self hood because of money, and rely on men because of money. The main way we have to tried to address that is to give them financial independence through work,” Abolfazli said.

She pointed to what she sees not as legal barriers but obstacles based on societal norms, which include an assumption of male superiority in the household and the notion that men should work before women do. The government has encouraged this narrative, she says. In the summer of 2012, a number of universities proposed a ban on women applying to study fields they were “not suited” for, particularly in the STEM arena.

Abolfazli says this is a rapidly changing phenomenon. Women are 60% of the student body. And there is a segment of the population that does not have the luxury of living by the hierarchal norms because of the necessity to work, especially in the private sector.

Women have trouble proving they are viable and capable business owners in the face of male-dominated industries, like banking, the buyers, and distributors, and they end up having to bring their husbands or fathers along with them. The Eurasia Foundation’s online education program by virtue of operating online only generally serves middle class Iranian women who want to start their own small business, providing them with focused technical advice and courses. Abolfazli says that the team has found that many of the women come from conservative or traditional backgrounds because of the way that the program is structured. They take time apart from their obligations and responsibilities to their families to learn how to execute their business ideas.

When I asked Abolfazli about how their program addresses the particular challenges for aspiring women entrepreneurs in the country, she said the program focuses on the technical education of implementing a business plan, but also provides encouragement and moral support.  “Either you navigate these waters however you can, or you get stuck,” she said.

They highlighted 100 successful women entrepreneurs in Iran, for example. In Abolfazli’s view the biggest agent of change when it comes to progress in women’s rights in Iran is not a particular group or government program. “I think the economic realities are leveling the playing field. Couples and families are negotiating more,” she said.

Abolfazli finds that the struggles and opportunities arising for women in Iran mirror the ones in the west have also experienced as more women entered the workforce. Moreover, the role of women and the leadership they take in transitioning democracies, or countries undergoing political shifts, impacts the nature of the overall growth in the region and international positioning. Finding an equal voice in and outside the home continues to be a challenge for women in Iran, but there are sectors that are experiencing change and finding support from within and outside the country.

For more on Abolfazli’s take on women in Iran, see her latest article in the Huffington Post, and on why it matters listen to the clip below.

Why it matters: Shreyasi Jha on evaluating some of the biggest challenges in South Asia

Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

By student contributor Asthaa Chaturvedi

Dr. Shreyasi Jha, Photo by Asthaa Chaturvedi

Dr. Shreyasi Jha, Photo by Asthaa Chaturvedi

We continue our Why it Matters series with another post from India. While I was in Delhi this summer I had the opportunity to talk with Dr. Shreyasi Jha, monitoring and evaluation specialist for UN Women South Asia. We discussed a wide range of topics – from how gender based violence is measured, to the politics of changing policy in India, to what she would suggest to students interested in specializing in gender and development.

Perhaps one of the most common forms of violence against women is abuse from intimate partners. Dr. Jha said, “This kind of violence is grossly underreported.” While UN Women is not working on evaluating this category specifically in India, understanding and measuring domestic violence is not impossible. Dr. Jha said that UN Women (along with UNDP, UNFPA, and UNV) is pushing to make violence by intimate partners a part of the post 2015-agenda (specifically, deciding what is next after the Millennium Development Goals).


Why it matters: Sanjay Kumar on Indian women and the power of work

Sunday, August 4th, 2013

By student contributor Asthaa Chaturvedi

The ggc is pleased to re-post an article (a version of this post was also published on A Focusing Lens) by our student intern, Asthaa Chaturvedi, who is currently in New Delhi researching women’s perceptions of participating in SEWA. 

This post for the “Why it matters” series comes from India. For the past few weeks I have been researching the empowerment process of members of SEWA Delhi. The Self Employed Women’s Association helps women who work in the informal sector in India without protection from the government or any type of trade union. I had the chance to talk to Dr. Sanjay Kumar, SEWA Bharat’s director, to learn about his perspective on empowering women in a a country where laws exist to protect women from unequal treatment but are not implemented at the ground level effectively. SEWA began 40 years ago and has a current membership of almost one million women in India.


A member of SEWA practices her embroidery work. Photo by Asthaa Chaturvedi

He said one of the first challenges is that “a woman might not even think of herself as a worker,” referring to millions of women who craft and make goods at home but receive no recognition and might not see their own work as legitimate. SEWA’s strategy to is to focus on organizing women and addressing their “life cycle needs” when it comes healthcare, education, and financial planning. This means leading the struggle to change laws to protect women workers, and helping them navigate local and official infrastructure so they can earn a living wage. (more…)

Why it matters: Women and development from Susannah Wellford Shakow’s perspective

Friday, March 8th, 2013

 By student contributor Asthaa Chaturvedi

Susannah Wellford Shakow

Susannah Wellford Shakow

Global Gender Current is proud to present its first post in a short interview series that aims to understand the perspective of leaders in the arena of women and development and ask the simple question of why working for equality and agency of women matters in this moment in the 21st century. Through short interviews and audio clips we hope to engage our readers and connect with folks who are in the process of learning about the multifaceted process of improving the wellbeing of women in the U.S. and around the world.

We’re beginning our series with the issue of women in politics. According to the Inter-Parliamentary Union, women hold just 20.4 percent of parliamentary seats around the world. Internationally and at home, there are disparities when it comes to the political involvement and leadership of women. Susannah Wellford Shakow, President and co-founder of Running Start, an organization that aims to support young women and girls as they think about running for political office in the U.S., has dedicated much of her career to this cause. Shakow also cofounded and led Women Under Forty Political Action Committee, the only PAC devoted to getting young women of all parties into office.

While Running Start’s initiatives are focused in the U.S., Shakow has conducted workshops in Israel, Kuwait, Russia,and Shri Lanka  and finds that regardless of the the audience, in rural villages or sophisticated boardrooms, women share the same concerns. The key is the same in developed and developing countries. Women need the confidence to be leaders themselves.

Shakow says she realized that women might not be on the same level playing field when she was a lawyer and questions started to arise about when she planned on having children. She decided that women could balance both a career and family, and do extraordinary things.

“I’ve found that biggest changes have been made in the business world. Businesses are starting to pay attention to women, because if they don’t, women will leave,” Shakow said when I asked her about where the biggest strides have been made. Running Start programs help young women from middle and high school practice the skills they need for leadership positions, meet women who can serve as role models, and understand the importance having a voice in the political process. Check out our audio clip below to hear Shakow’s perspective on why getting women into political office remains relevant in this day and age.