A compelling argument for women’s rights.
At a TEDWomen conference in 2010, Hillary Clinton, at the time secretary of state, asserted a connection between women’s equality and international peace and stability. “Give women equal rights and entire nations are more stable and secure,” she said. “Deny women equal rights and the instability of nations is almost certain.” Hudson (Bush School of Government and Public Service/Texas A&M Univ.; Foreign Policy Analysis: Classic and Contemporary Theory, 2006, etc.) and Leidl (Journalism, Advertising and Public Relations/Michigan State Univ.) investigate what is known as the Hillary Doctrine, bringing to bear scholarly research, fieldwork, case studies, and interviews. They argue persuasively that in societies that permit and encourage violence against women, men develop “a willingness to harm, kill, and enslave others.” When male bonding intensifies as competing groups vie for power, men see women’s rights and freedoms as threats to their own legitimacy. The authors look at subjugation of women in Guatemala, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen, examples of particularly abusive societies and also of “violent instability.” As one Saudi women’s rights activist said, her country is “the world’s largest prison for women.” As much as they endorse the Hillary Doctrine, the authors see problems in instituting change: establishing a legal and regulatory framework, making gender central to federal programs, and “the actual implementation of initiatives in-country.” They offer myriad, dismal examples of sexism among contractors and USAID workers; exclusion of women from conferences, planning, and positions of power; and a lack of accountability for programs that are enacted. The authors criticize the Obama administration for its failure to include women in Sudan–South Sudan negotiations and for allowing women to be marginalized during peace talks with the Taliban in Afghanistan. Leadership on women’s issues, they argue, must come from a deeply committed White House.
A sound study that carries an urgent message.