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83 Foreign Aff. 80 (2004)
The Payoff from Women's Rights

handle is hein.journals/fora83 and id is 470 raw text is: The Payoff
From Women's Rights
Isobel Coleman
OVER THE PAST DECADE, significant research has demonstrated what
many have known for a long time: women are critical to economic
development, active civil society, and good governance, especially
in developing countries. Focusing on women is often the best way to
reduce birth rates and child mortality; improve health, nutrition, and
education; stem the spread of HI/AIDS; build robust and self-sustaining
community organizations; and encourage grassroots democracy.
Much like human rights a generation ago, women's rights were long
considered too controversial for mainstream foreign policy. For decades,
international development agencies skirted gender issues in highly
patriarchal societies. Now, however, they increasingly see women's
empowerment as critical to their mandate. The Asian Development
Bank is promoting gender-sensitive judicial and police reforms in
Pakistan, for example, and the World Bank supports training for
female political candidates in Morocco. The United States, too, is
increasingly embracing women's rights, as a way not only to foster
democracy, but also to promote development, curb extremism, and fight
terrorism, all core strategic objectives.
Women's status has advanced in many countries: gender gaps in
infant mortality rates, calorie consumption, school enrollment, lit-
eracy levels, access to health care, and political participation have
narrowed steadily. And those changes have benefited society at large,
ISOBEL COLEMAN is a Senior Fellow on U.S. Foreign Policy at the
Council on Foreign Relations.


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