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Posted by Maggie Fick on February 8, 2009


A recent post from the brilliant IntLawGrrls blog directed me to Newsweek’s Anna Quindlen making the case for placing women’s well-being as a core tenet of a revitalized U.S. foreign policy:

…according to the Global Fund for Women, two thirds of the world’s uneducated children are girls, and, naturally, two thirds of the world’s poorest people are female. Not coincidentally, women make up only about 16 percent of parliament members worldwide. Simple mathematics dictates that if we are interested in promoting prosperity, education and good government, the United States must focus on the welfare of women. One study shows that the key to reducing childhood malnutrition is maternal education. Another shows a connection between more women in political leadership and less corruption and incompetence.

Another statistic should naturally follow this powerful set, courtesy of Stephen Lewis via John Norris:

Since October 2000 there have been at least 35 major peace negotiations, ‘and not a single woman played the role of lead mediator in any of the negotiations.’

Women need to be involved from day one in peacemaking and peacebuilding processes, so that they can play a leading in how their societies are rebuilt after they have suffered from debilitating conflicts that are most often orchestrated and perpetrated by men. To learn more about this idea, also known as “inclusive security,” visit the Institute for Inclusive Security website.

Quindlen ends her article with confidence that President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton are ready to reshape American foreign policy to make it more inclusive and less arrogant, with benefits that could extend well beyond our borders:

If [Clinton] led a department that saw engaging and enriching women as a linchpin of its work, she might well be accused of feminizing foreign policy. Both she and the president could respond: so what? An American foreign policy informed by swagger and arrogance has been a conspicuous failure, making the United States not respected but reviled. It is no wonder that President Obama ended his inaugural remarks about international friendship with the promise "We are ready to lead once more." The world’s women are ready for that, too.