Anthony Lake is executive director of the United Nations Children’s Fund and former member of PSA’s Advisory Board. The article originally appeared in the Mail & Guardian.
Children of war need help
Innocent children, women and elderly people – who cannot protect themselves – were massacred. Village after village has been burned to the ground. And three young girls were sent to their deaths with explosives strapped to their bodies in so-called suicide bombings that killed scores of civilians.
Over the past week I hope you saw these news reports from northern Nigeria. And I hope you did not flip or click away to the next article – horrified, yes, but hoping these were only isolated incidents happening in some difficult-to-reach place in some other African country.
Tara Sonenshine advises World Learning and is currently a Distinguished Fellow at George Washington University. She served as a member of PSA’s Board of Directors and as former undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs.. The article was co-written by Patrice Hirsch Feinstein. The article was originally posted in Newsday.
To reach the top, girls need financial literacy
Women, take note. You are 50 percent of the population, but in America’s wealthiest companies you have only 18 percent of the top executive jobs.
That’s one eye-opener from researchers at the University of Pennsylvania’s The Wharton School of business and the IE Business School in Madrid, published recently in the Harvard Business Review. To make us feel better, the study underscores that in 1980, female representation was zero — so 18 percent is an improvement.
This article was co-authored by Tara Sonenshine. Tara D. Sonenshine is former Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs. She is currently a Distinguished Fellow at George Washington University’s School of Media and Public Affairs. She is a former member of PSA’s Board of Directors. This article originally appeared in the Christian Science Monitor.
Donald Steinberg is president and chief executive officer of World Learning, which works in 60 countries to empower a new generation of global leaders.
Globally, ‘girl power’ should be much more than a slogan
Investing in the education and health of girls pays huge dividends. Now is the time to recommit to empowering girls and ending child marriage and human trafficking, not just because it is morally right but because it is the smartest way to build a more peaceful and prosperous world.
If you want to change the world, invest in a girl.
Today marks the second anniversary of International Day of the Girl, instituted by the United Nations General Assembly to promote the rights of girls, highlight the unique challenges they face around the world, and reaffirm a global commitment to protect and empower them. Given worldwide violence, extremism, poverty, and injustice, we cannot afford to cast aside the contributions that 850 million girls can make to build a safer, more prosperous, and equitable world.
Studies show that if a girl stays in school, receives health care, gains skills, and is safe from sexual and other physical abuse, she will very likely marry later, have fewer but healthier children, earn a higher income, invest in her family, and break the cycle of poverty at home and in her community. She will be more likely to use her education to increase agricultural production, improve health conditions for her family, and serve as a leader to resolve conflicts. (more…)
Tara D. Sonenshine is the former US Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs and a former PSA Board Member. This article originally appeared on The Daily Beast.
From One Glass Ceiling to the Next
I awoke the morning after ending my tenure at the State Department as undersecretary of State for public diplomacy and public affairs and wondered: now what?
As women, we are trained for change—forever transforming ourselves into something new—always stitching together the next square in the proverbial tapestry of professional life. Reinvention is our middle name. We get up, dust ourselves off, and hurry along through the next hoop. We can endure any kind of traffic jam or impasse, including our own self-made ones as long as we stay moving.
But still I found myself, facing my 54th birthday, in a rare state of Anna Quindlenism—questioning, evaluating, contemplating, but not concluding.
This article was written by two Spring 2012 Participants in PSA’s Congressional Partnership Program. All CPP articles are produced by bipartisan groups of Democrat and Republican Hill Staff who were challenged to develop opinion pieces that reach consensus on critical national security and foreign affairs issues.
In October of 2000 the Trafficking Victims Protection Act was signed into law by President Bill Clinton. This legislation was enacted to pressure countries to address the growing problem of modern day slavery and to provide these victims access to freedom. The current version of the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act is awaiting action before the full Senate and the full House of Representatives. For the good of the victims of trafficking and the continued leadership the United States has thus far provided, it is our hope that the Trafficking Victims Protection Act will be given serious consideration by the Congress in the coming months.
Recently, Obama Administration officials, including Secretary Hillary Clinton, Ambassador Susan Rice, and even President Barack Obama himself, have spoken in support of ratifying the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). The treaty also enjoys support from former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. Naturally renewed talk of CEDAW, combined with a Senate hearing held on the treaty in November 2010, has activist groups gearing up for an epic inside-the-beltway battle should President Obama transmit the treaty to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) for its advice and consent.
While I understand arguments against CEDAW, especially those concerning the unenforceable nature of human rights treaties, I find them unconvincing considering the promise CEDAW holds as a tool of diplomacy on a very sensitive and complicated issue. Treaties do not always need an enforcement mechanism to be useful. Human rights treaties can function as a means of establishing agreed upon norms and values that serve as a framework for dialogue to address worldwide problems. In this capacity, CEDAW has the potential to provide the United States with another tool to engage internationally and serve as a model on the rights of women. Even better, it can do so at little or no cost to U.S. sovereignty. (more…)
The Afghanis and the global community will be sorting out the effects of the September 18 Parliamentary elections for weeks if not months. Reports from the Independent Election Commission, and thousands of local and international observers, including those deployed by Democracy International (of which I served as a short term observer), will no doubt be mixed. Nine years after the U.S. – led invasion and months after the American military “surge”, much of the country remains in the control of insurgents. For up to date election-related information check the Democracy International website www.afghan2010.com.
President Obama said he believes the “Afghans have done a commendable job in setting up as best as they can a structure for a fair and important election.” This understated sentiment certainly does not do justice to the tremendous, and perhaps overwhelming, challenges facing the Karzai administration. A significant number of polling centers did not open or closed early due to Taliban attacks. I counted at least twelve mortar attacks, a firefight, and a Taliban truck blaring threats to anyone who voted in one contested provincial capital. Even the Afghan security forces were unable to deploy to many polling sites. Over three thousand formal complaints, allegations of fraud, intimidation, and technical problems further degraded the poll’s legitimacy in the minds of many voters. (more…)
At the same time the United States is scaling back its goals for Afghanistan, women in the country are scaling up their own ambitions. In arenas ranging from medicine to the military, from small business to civil society, women are speaking up for themselves and tackling ever-larger aspirations. While problems loom large in a country in which female literacy rates struggle to top 15 percent and rampant insecurity leads many families to keep their daughters and wives indoors, women are making progress. Though their efforts are often overlooked as the world trains its focus on the exits in Afghanistan, they are, quietly and slowly, creating change in their families and their country.
In a box of a building on an Afghan Army base, 29 young women in olive-green uniforms study finance and logistics. They are part of the Afghan National Army’s first Officer Candidate School class for women.
Coming from provinces all across the country, including those in the grip of an increasingly strong anti-government insurgency, these aspiring Army officers say they are determined to serve their country — and to prove to men that women can contribute.
“We have faced so many wars and so many restrictions on women and now the day has come where women have joined the military,” said Shima, a young woman from the Taliban stronghold of Ghazni. “We have to think about the equality of men and women just like other nations where women fight for their countries.” (more…)
All blog posts are independently produced by their authors and do not necessarily reflect the policies or positions of PSA. Across the Aisle serves as a bipartisan forum for productive discussion of national security and foreign affairs topics.